23 Comment

  • I spent some time on my commute this morning just watching the machine eat away at the building. Everyone watched. Fascinating.

  • Is it really “greener” to rip something down and rebuild? Seems like there must be enormous waste in a tear down/rebuild that will likely never be made up for even if you have a very efficient new building.

    • No. Since it’s a perfectly usable shell, the most “green” option would be to strip the building down to the core and reuse that to create the new structure.

    • it “seems” that way, huh?

      do you know what it costs to heat, cool, and service a vintage 1960s office building like this?

      These buildings are primarily made out of concrete, which is basically just a bunch of rocks. Knocking them down and reconfiguring them is not really a big deal in terms of energy use for a structure that’s going to last 50 years.

      • Obviously neither you nor I are doing the actual spreadsheet analysis of the benefits of either route (keeping the shell or not) but I do know that there is a HUGE amount of embodied energy in concrete – from mining the raw materials to firing the lime, all the trucks needed to move those tons of materials/wet concrete, labor to build the forms and place the concrete, removal of the waste, etc.

        Very, very often it is MUCH greener to keep the concrete skeleton and, as an earlier poster said, put in all new HVAC, flooring/finishes and a new curtain wall than it is to start from scratch.

        My suspicion is that the develop finds keeping the current skeleton to not be financially better for his bottom line. Maybe the floor plates aren’t big enough, maybe they can squeeze another few floors out of it and the current structure won’t support the added weight. So it’ll be a better financial move to start anew. But I seriously doubt it’ll be a greener move.

        • I agree with one of the commenters on DC Mud who said that it’s likely the developer either wants to max out floors (which would be 11 here), and/or wants to increase ceiling heights on each floor to increase square footage rental charges, since that’ll upgrade the office building’s overall class.

          Really, the biggest problem everyone has with them tearing down this office building is the claim that they’re doing it to be “green.” If Akridge had just said something like, “replacing it with a new building that better meets the needs and desires and DC tenants” (aka, fancier office digs), no one would have cared.

      • You obviously have no idea the energy involved in demo’ing a building of that size, nor the hundreds of dumptruck loads of debris that will be trucked to Lorton if they are lucky, Fredricksburg VA is they aren’t. Yeah, thats green.

        Then you have the energy and resources involved in building a new building. HVAC systems are easy to update and replace, and most of the time that is what is done. Modern HVAC office upgrades (not talking data center crac units or anything exotic) run about ~$15-20 bucks a sq/ft. This was a ~150K sq/ft building meaning they could have put in a super modern and efficient chilled beam system for about 3 million, rather then spending 100 million on a “new” building.

        • Really? So your assessment, as a blog commenting keyboard jockey, is that the real estate development professionals and bankers that put this development package together didn’t realize there were other options for this building? And that they didn’t put together various scenarios ranging from status quo to complete demolition, compare each of the options’ NPV, and select this one because it maximized their investment?

          It’s just this simple – you’re wrong.

          • I’ll assume you’re new here. Joker is an expert on absolutely everything, and questioning his infinite wisdom is just unacceptable.

      • Actually it’s not when something was built that will determine if it’s a money-suck in terms of things like heating/cooling but it’s the quality of the workmanship that will determine its energy efficiency. This is as true today as it was way back when.

  • Perhsps greener, but most likely, another dull glass and steel box

  • maybe the developers are just planning to use green-tinted glass instead of the usual blue. developers can be very literal sometimes.

  • It’s Akridge people. The only green they gonna care about is the cash they’ll get out of it.

  • I think in this case they’re taking a Class B building in a prime location and building a Class A building. I’m sure they’re going for a LEED platinum certification or at least gold with the new construction, so the new building might literally be “greener” than the old building. But, like everyone is mentioning, the entire process (all things considered) is probably not very green.

    • Indeed. Of course it’d be greener to just reskin the building. You can turn it into an LEED Platinum building without tearing it all down. The builder obviously just wants to be able to brand it as a new building (and add a floor to it). Shameful waste.

  • Of course tearing down the building isn’t particularly green right now, but you have to think of the benefit of having a “greener” building there for the next 50 years. Let’s say you cause X pollution to tear down the building. Maybe it takes 20 years of the new building operating more efficiently than the old one to make up for that X pollution. Then you still have 30 years of “greener ” living/working over the life of that building, a benefit of you would not have had with the old building. So it almost always makes sense to re-build using newer technology and materials.
    And yes, they can increase the number of floors this way of course and gain additional income for the owner that way…and by upgrading the building to a class A building and charging higher rents. In my opinion, this is likely a win-win situation.

  • For all the former-DFI’ers who are PoP readers out there, notice the red building behind the one being torn down. It’s 1710 Rhode Island, one-time home to DFI Gov.

    As to the green discussion, well no one ever said that it’s easy being green

  • Love how a post about a building demo turns so acrimonious so quickly. This was the former headquarters of the Restaurant Association and I will miss thinking about Herman Cain during my commute.

    • Well, you can have fun with it, here, I’ll show you:

      Surprisingly, the cheaper option often IS the greener option since total lifetime cost is directly proportional to the resources expended.

      (now, watch the fireworks!)

      The reality is there’s a balancing act between construction cost and lifetime energy usage – but few people actually think in those terms – they pick one side or the other and start screaming.

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