Amazon’s development plans for a second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, call for an urban campus that starts with turning a block of warehouses into two new LEED Gold-certified buildings. The tech giant anticipates investing $2.5 billion in constructing the campus over the next 10 years.
John Schoettler, vice president of global real estate and facilities for Amazon, wrote in a blog post this month that the new Arlington campus would feature energy-efficient offices, new community space, and neighborhood retail.
Highlights of the new site, he wrote, will include LEED Gold-certified buildings. Specifically, the plan is for 2.1 million square feet of energy-efficient office buildings with green outdoor terraces for employees in two 22-story towers.
In addition, Amazon wants to see street-level retail, restaurants, 1.1 acres of public open space, and space for 600 bikes in onsite facilities, along with construction of a new section of the cycle path to link the campus to Arlington’s cycling infrastructure.
Arlington Plans Critiqued
The headquarters site, currently home to vacant warehouses, was originally planned as a residential-retail project called Metropolitan Park, Patricia Sullivan wrote in the Washington Post. “Amazon’s change of use and its request for more height and density than current zoning allows will require County Board approval after it works its way through several planning steps,” she noted.
Neighborhood civic association leaders speaking to Sullivan had mixed reactions. One local group wants an independent cost-benefit analysis of the proposed campus’ effects on the area, especially for traffic.
Architect Carl Elefante, an immediate past president of the American Institute of Architects, critiqued Amazon’s plans in a Washington Post letter to the editor.
“Amazon’s Arlington campus should, at a minimum and in a way that’s consistent with climate mitigation best practices, be designed to net-zero carbon standards, offsetting the thousands of tons of embodied greenhouse-gas emissions that will result from constructing the campus,” he wrote.
Shareholders Demand Climate Action
Shortly after the company filed proposed Amazon HQ2 plans, an annual shareholder meeting in Seattle turned hostile over climate change action demands, CNBC reported.
“Dozens of shareholders, including current employees, joined the meeting in Seattle, presenting their case in over 12 different proposals,” journalists Eugene Kim and Paayal Zaveri wrote. “They included demands that the company take action on climate change through energy use, as well as improving diversity and pay equality in its workforce.”
GeekWire explained that the shareholders had asked Amazon to prepare a report describing its plan to reduce fossil fuel dependence and prepare for disruptions caused by the climate crisis. Although the resolution received support from more than 7,600 employees, it did not get enough votes to pass.