AGC goes ‘green’ with new headquarters

The Associated General Contractors of America will become a little greener this year when it moves its headquarters to the Navy League building in Arlington, Va. Not green in color, but in energy efficiency.

AGC’s new building will highlight advances in green construction and is on track to receive a “silver rating” under the leadership in energy and environmental design rating system upon the project’s completion in October. This building will be one of only four LEED-certified projects in Virginia and less than 200 nationwide.

“Improving the environment and the image of the industry starts at home,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive of AGC. He is using the headquarters move to encourage organization members to meet the nation’s growing demand for environmentally responsible buildings.

The LEED system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to establish a common standard of measurement for green buildings. It awards a level of certification based on a point system.

USGBC organizes points into five broad categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. The system also provides points for innovation and design process.

Despite AGC’s adoption of the LEED system for its own headquarters, the group isn’t officially endorsing one green building standard more than another.

Kelley Keeler, senior director of public affairs for AGC, said the organization views the green movement as a significant trend in the construction marketplace.

“The movement in the marketplace toward environmentally sensitive products and services, paired with the growth of green construction, provides an incentive for AGC companies to keep on top of the latest green construction advances,” Keeler said.

AGC’s building will have a water efficiency system to minimize the amount of potable water consumed by the project while also reducing the amount of storm water runoff from the site. The building is designed to use 20 percent less energy than conventional office buildings and incorporates an energy-efficient roof.

The project also aims to conserve natural resources by salvaging or recycling 75 percent of demolition, construction and land clearing waste. Low-emission adhesives, paints and carpets along with exhaust systems designed to remove airborne particulate matter will improve indoor air quality. The building will also facilitate employees’ use of transportation alternatives by including bicycle storage rooms, charging stations for electric cars and preferred parking for carpooling. Parking capacity will be set at a minimum to encourage alternative methods of travel.

AGC estimates its annual energy and water costs will be reduced by $75,000 and $5,000, respectively, through the use of green construction methods.

“AGC is sending a message to its membership that there may be good business reasons to increase their profile and to position themselves as environmental leaders within the industry,” Keeler said.

Patrick Beeson can be contacted at