An exclusive look inside Amazon’s insanely durable HQ2


Starting next week, the first of 8,000 Amazon employees will begin moving into one of two new 22-story towers in Arlington, Virginia. Move-in is expected to be complete by the end of summer. Amazon’s HQ2, formally called Metropolitan Park, has several features that contribute to the company’s goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions across all operations by 2040.

The buildings will run with no operational carbon emissions and will be powered by 100% renewable energy from a nearby solar farm.

“We eliminated fossil fuels from this building, which is huge and really new for a lot of the development,” said Cara Hurst, Amazon’s vice president of global sustainability.

The 2.1 million square feet of space includes some of the latest clean energy technology and sustainability features. A spacious living room features a coffered wood ceiling made of 70-foot pieces of laminated planks of the sustainable material. The floor is made of concrete from Carboncure, a carbon removal technology company for concrete funded by Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund.

A meeting room in Amazon’s HQ2

Diana Olick | cnbc

There are 3,000 tinted glass windows for cooling, and red/green lights on the sides of the windows to tell staff when it’s a good time to open those windows. The building is also using special cooling technology that helps save approximately 7 and a half million gallons of water per year. There is more than enough water to fill the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

The heating and cooling systems operate on a need basis, meaning ventilation and temperature will change based on occupancy. The building also has advanced energy metering systems to help evaluate future improvements as the building is occupied and teams use the space.

“I think it’s incredibly important for a company like Amazon to demonstrate leadership and consistency and also send a demand signal to the market to talk about where we’re trying and testing things.” These are the kind of products and services we want,” Hurst said. “We want to see innovation in building materials. We want to see innovation in building equipment. We want to see how we’re incorporating that and we want it to scale, to a cost parity, but rather For this also availability to all.”

Hurst would not say how much the stability features drove up the cost of development. Amazon officials said only that some items, such as low-carbon concrete, were found to be cost-neutral.

“Other options were about long-term value, such as our water conservation measures. Sustainability also goes beyond utility cost savings decisions,” officials said.

The development was designed in heavy consultation with the surrounding community. The dog park and child care center on campus are open to nearby residents. The new tower also has a rooftop vegetable garden now open that is not for employees – instead the food produced will be distributed to local community organizations through non-profits.

However, there are still plenty of facilities for the 8,000 employees, who Hearst says will be in the office at least three days a week.

Hurst said, “We’re still committed to all of those recruiting goals that we’ve set out. So we’re going to continue on that path, but really for the next decade.”

for the second phase of HQ2 offices which was recently delayedHearst didn’t give a time frame but said Amazon is in the pre-construction phase and is still committed to it.

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