Green NOAA Building Coming to M-Square


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.

7 thoughts on “Green NOAA Building Coming to M-Square”

  1. It looks great, but it’s still set in a suburban-style office park. The University should re-visit their overall plans in order to make it as pleasant and easy as possible for employees and visitors to walk from the Metro if they want to cut down on traffic congestion and encourage commuting by public transit.

  2. I wonder how many of the employees live beyond the reach of public transit. I suspect one will find more meteorology PhDs resident in Howard (largely inaccessible) or Montgomery (too far a ride until the Purple Line is built) than nearby.

  3. I do believe that they are planning on phasing in denser development and building parking garages. Agreed, many of the people that work in these buildings do not live near the metro in its current form. Most of NOAA’s other buildings are in silver spring and I imagine a lot of new trips will be created between there and College Park (an incredibly long metro ride). I think all that we can ask is that the university lay m-square out in a reasonable manner with adequade pedestrian facilities and fill it in as they get more top notch tenants. They will have a bus…..

  4. Even the swooshiest building is still greenwashing if it’s auto-oriented and does nothing to support a walkable district. M-Square in general can be described as transit-adjacent rather than transit-oriented. It is single use, does not shape coherent streetscapes, and prioritizes car traffic over pedestrian safety, scale and comfort.

  5. Just a quick note on this new building. The employees of this NOAA building will not be coming from Silver Spring in general. The current home for these NOAA offices are in Camp Springs, with the populations spread over many counties, though I know a few people who are looking into relocating to the College Park area once the building is completed. These are people that chose to not live in Camp Springs. A fair number of coworkers commute to the current office using metro and will do the same for the CP office. I for one live within walking distance to the new building and look forward to biking to work each morning. This is a much more desirable area that the previous Camp Springs location.

    Square M is planning many additional buildings to make a office complex with shuttle service to Metro.

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