Tower Building

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2008
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The Tower Building

Fast Facts

Address: Rockville, Maryland
Company/Developer: The Tower Companies
Architect: Kishimoto Gordon Dalaya, PC
Project Specs: Speculative
Project Type: Class A Office
Square Feet: 276,000

Project History: Rising 10 stories over a campus of lush woodlands and eco-sensitive planning, The Tower Building is the company’s first speculative sustainable office building located within Tower Oaks. Construction started in 1999 and completed in 2001.  The building is a striking landmark distinguishable by the unique elliptical shape, bisected by a sweeping, curved "sail" wall, which offers occupants 180-degree views and sunlight. The Tower Building is ENERGY STAR rated and LEED EB Silver registered.

Commitment to Sustainability

The Tower Companies have developed more than 4.5 million square feet of office space, 3,500 apartments, malls, residential communities, lifestyle centers, hotels and industrial/flex space, of which 1.25 million square feet are Green or LEED Certified projects and 2.5 million square feet are in the planning stages. They introduced three green properties before the LEED ratings existed. They have achieved local and national recognition in green building, garnered numerous awards from city, state and federal government and business organizations. In 2003 and 2006, they received a Leadership Award from the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy for being one of the largest purchasers of Green Energy in the country and purchasing Green Energy to meet 100% of the company's electrical energy needs. They are one of 10 Carbon-Neutral businesses in the U.S. and have pledged to maintain that level through 2012.

Their top executives testify before city and state officials and meet with Federal officials on initiatives such as Greening the Capitol. The  executives hosted an international delegation of Russian engineers and architects to learn about their sustainable developments.    

Green Features

Economic Analysis

  • The investment of $700,000 in green technology represents 1.2 percent of the total project.  The company estimates a payback of about $50,000 annually in energy savings, or seven percent net gain annually.  Because of higher energy prices in recent years, Tower estimates that savings to be 14 percent annually.
  • Annual Rents: $31.50-$34.50 per square foot (when completed in 2001)
  • Average Lease: 10 years
  • Percentage Occupied: 100
interior view of the Tower Building

Site Sustainability/Materials Use

  • Two bus routes pass by, which provide easy access to two metro train stations.
  • Bicycle storage, lockers, showers and fitness center.
  • 30-hybrid/alternative fuel preferred parking spaces, account for over three percent of parking.
  • Ninety-seven percent of the stormwater that falls is mitigated by maximizing the forested area around the site. The site utilizes its natural incline to filter stormwater back into the water table.
  • Structural filtration detention facilities maximize water purity.
  • About 61 percent of the building site is covered by vegetation that can live in the environment without requiring excessive watering and maintenance. 
  • Utilizes underground parking for 61 percent of its parking needs. 
  • Erosion and Sedimentation Control
    • When the project was constructed, a sediment control permit was issued by the City of Rockville and they approved the sediment control plan that was implemented
    • All permanent stabilization as been maintained.
    • Approximately 2.5 acres of existing forest was retained and placed in a permanent conservation easement.
  • The building contains health-fostering amenities, including a café, a meditation/yoga room, and an ATM.
  • The open space surrounding the building has open fields, tree-filled walking area, and biking trails.
  • Dedicated 'recycling pick-up' area.
  • Prior to construction, a wind model test was conducted to gauge the impact of the background noise from a major highway on tenant comfort. It was found that the tenants would not be distracted by the traffic noise.
  • Post-industrial recycled carpet will be broken down at the end of its useful life and re-formed to create post-consumer carpeting.
  • Ceiling tiles are made up of 79 percent recycled materials and acoustical sound transfer.
  • Incorporates eco-friendly building materials - non-toxic paints, adhesives, low-VOC (volatile organic compound) built-ins and finishes and recyclable green-label carpets. 
close up of the exterior of the Tower Building

Energy Efficiency

  • Air conditioning allows temperature central plant chilled water air conditioning system with economizers which is 30 percent more efficient than typical "market" air conditioning systems.
  • Non-toxic daytime cleaning service reduces energy consumption by reducing the operating hours for the HVAC and lighting systems.
  • High efficiency fluorescent lights.
  • Light occupancy sensors in the lobby hallway and fitness room.
  • 100 percent wind energy provided by PEPCO Energy Services.
  • Energy adaptive smart elevators.
  • Building engineer oversees computerized energy and building management systems.
  • ENERGY STAR rated in 2006.
  • LEED EB Silver registered.
  • Energy audit completed.

Water Efficiency

  • Combination of sensor-based faucet controls, low-flow toilets and waterless urinals to gain an estimated 30 percent water reduction over a typical building of the same size and occupancy. 
  • Faucet aerators have been changed to reduce water consumption from 1.5 gallons per minute to 0.5 gallons per minute. This has helped reduce The Tower Building's water consumption to less than 70 percent of the baseline requirement set forth in the Energy Policy Act of 1992.


  • The building represents innovations in green technology and design, prior to the establishment of the LEED.
  • Air filtration systems like those used in nuclear submarines.
  • Low-E glass.
  • Traffic-adaptive elevators that save energy.
  • 100 percent wind energy provided by PEPCO.