College Park isn’t just bursting with new residential development – M-Square (our explanation), the university’s office park, will welcome a 280,000 square foot building that will house the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) new Center for Climate and Weather Prediction. This 50 million dollar center by developer Opus East broke ground in more ways than one last May – it will be the first ‘green’ building in the M-Square development. The project includes a green roof that will help insulate the building and help reduce storm water runoff and an onsite waterfall supplied by collected rainwater. The green roof will also help protect the roof surface – reducing maintenance costs in the future. Over 600 people will work at the center when it is completed.
Besides the visible sustainable aspects, the building will have enough “invisible” sustainable aspects to attain a LEED silver rating. This rating is determined by the U.S. Green Building Council, a leader in sustainable building practices. The new NOAA building will use less water, less energy, and be more comfortable for its employees than most modern buildings. As Senator Barbara Mikulski put it, this is a “world class work environment.”
The Diamondback recently did an excellent piece on the M-Square office park, outlining concerns that the city had about how car oriented the development was shaping to be. “If most people coming to the office arrive by cars, it defeats the purpose of the transit system,” said Councilman Andy Fellows. The new NOAA building is not exempt from this criticism, as it incorporates a large onsite garage. Hopefully future development in M-Square take better advantage of the proximity to public transportation.