A Silver Spring company is looking to build the county’s first net zero facility, a building that would produce enough energy to sustain itself annually.
United Therapeutics —a biotechnology company that works on the development and commercialization of unique medical products — is expanding its campus with the new facility on the corner of Spring Street and Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring. The building at 1000 Spring Street will have solar panels, a green roof and special placement of windows to allow for natural light and cross breezes to push hot air out of the facility, among other environmentally sustainable features, according to a presentation the design team gave to the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board on July 8.
1000 Spring Street is currently the site of an old parking garage. The proposed building will be six stories high with 122,000 square feet of office, laboratory and retail space and 152 parking spaces.
Paul Mahon, executive vice president for United Therapeutics Corporation, said he hopes demolition and construction will start in 2015 with a 20- to 24-month construction period, assuming approvals and permits go through the county’s planning process. Mahon also said this is the last building planned for the campus at this time, though he would not rule out projects in the future.
Mahon said the company has not yet determined an estimated cost for the building.
The net zero design ensures that all of the energy used by the building over the course of the year will be provided by renewable energy generated within the facility. The building will be connected to the energy grid to provide energy during peak times, Mahon said, though surpluses in on-site energy generation during off-peak times are sold back to the utility with the goal of netting out zero energy on an annual basis.
“The net zero approach is an environmentally and socially responsible decision for a company like ours and it also achieves our twin core values of innovation and sustainability which are instilled across United Therapeutics,” Mahon said in an email.
The building will be an office, virtual laboratory and retail space, which he said has provided some difficulty in the design process. He said the company is looking for tenants for the retail space who also plan to have a net zero approach to their business to keep with the philosophy of the company and the new building. In addition, temperature changes and humidity in the area will provide challenges to the design, Mahon said.