A Green Catch 22-New Offices At Mark Center

Alexandria residentsBRAC 133-Exterior From I-395 are facing the proposed destruction of the Winkler Botanical Preserve in order to provide access to the new Mark Center government building.  At the same time area residents are bracing for big changes, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is lauding the “green” features of the new mega building.

The new Department of Defense Adminstration building aka BRAC-133 is the largest building in the area.  When it is finished it will have two multi-storied wings of 15 and 17 floors respectively and have over 1.7 million square feet.  Touted as using 30% less energy, 50% less water than other buildings and sporting a green roof the building should be considered a model of green technology.  About 75% of the construction waste is being recycled and trees cut down to build the center will show up as interior paneling in the building.  All of this adds up to USACE’s first project of this scope attempting to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Building Certification.

In addition to to the press release about hoping to achieve Gold LEED certification new transportation studies are being released that indicate 57% of the employees who will be working at the new building will be coming in single occupancy vehicles (SOV).  This could add almost 2900 vehicles to the area roads when the complex opens in September 2011.  Anyone who currently drives on I-395 during rush hour knows what this could mean to local roadways.  Nothing green about putting this many additional cars on the road.

It is hard to believe the press would be try and divert local residents from the possible destruction of a loved botonical perserve with the announcement of the “green” benefits of the new building.  Just like myself I’m sure there are thousands of others in the area who aren’t buying it.  Sometimes progress needs to stop and take a look at what it leaves behind.  A green building does not replace a nature preserve no matter how you try and spin it.

You can follow more on the fight to save the Winkler Botanical Preserve on Facebook.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Marc Barnes/Creative Commons License

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