Celebrating Sustainable Corporate Leadership in Montgomery County

May 20, 2019

Montgomery County is a hub of development in the DC region, with new construction and renovations constantly underway. Development proves to be a great opportunity to increase buildings’ energy efficiency, and thankfully, many developers and real estate managers take this initiative. 

For The Tower Companies, a Montgomery-County-based commercial real estate developer, owner, and manager, sustainability is one of their main goals. In April 2019, they published their Inaugural Corporate Responsibility Report, addressing climate change in the real estate industry. Titled Real Estate: A Foundation for Change, the report discusses the influence that development is able to have in improving sustainability in buildings and why The Tower Companies is dedicated to maintaining this role. Download the full report.  

Sustainable Achievements 

Following a message from the partners, Gary, Ronald, and Jeffrey Abramson about their personal desire to influence the real estate industry, the report features a timeline highlighting some of the company’s most notable sustainability achievements. The Tower Companies has been repeatedly recognized by organizations like the EPA, USGBC, and NAIOP DCIMD, and many of their leading projects are located in Montgomery County. 

Their buildings hold numerous certifications from the LEED rating system, as 95% of their building portfolio is LEED certified, and their average building ENERGY STAR Score is a high-achieving 91. Tower’s shining examples are: 

  • the first LEED Platinum multi-tenant office building in the DC Metro Area,
  • the first LEED-EBOM Platinum Certified multifamily building in the world
  • the first commercial office building in the world to recertify as LEED Gold under LEEDv4, and
  • the first multifamily residential Fitwel Certification in the world 

Locally, their apartment building in Silver Spring, Blair Towns, was the first multifamily building to receive LEED certification in the US, and the Tower Headquarters in Rockville was named the greenest office building in Maryland and featured in The World’s Greenest Buildings: Promise vs Performance in Sustainable Design. 

Regionally, they received the Award of Excellence for Sustainable Business of the Year by USGBC NCR in 2013, a Montgomery County Early Bird Benchmarker in 2015, Firm of the Year by NAIOP DCIMD in 2016, and a DOE Better Buildings Challenge goal achiever reducing both energy and water consumption by over 20% in 2017 and 2018 respectively using a 2010 baseline. 

Local Activism 

In addition to supporting sustainability themselves, The Tower Companies is involved in local government and advocacy organizations in order to promote policies that aim to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. Tower also gives back to the community with volunteer hours, particularly with Montgomery County Public Schools. 

In Montgomery County, they contributed to Montgomery County’s Green Building Tax Incentive stakeholder workgroup process and the adoption of the International Green Construction Code. Tower is also working with the County on piloting new tenant composting programs at their properties and using DEP-provided signage to encourage higher recycling and waste diversion rates. 

In DC, they also served as an industry representative for the new Clean Energy Bill through their participation in the Green Building Advisory Council and continue to assist with the Bill’s implementation. 

Continuous Improvement 

Through their efforts, The Tower Companies has significantly influenced the building and real estate industries in the DC Metro Area, and they hope to continue to do so in order to promote sustainability in the region. 

While Tower has accomplished a great deal as their inaugural sustainability reports shows, the organization wants to accomplish more and encourage others to join them in their sustainability efforts. Broad action from commercial real estate partners like The Tower Companies is a key component to meeting the County’s ambitious carbon neutrality and zero-waste goals while fostering sustainable economic growth 

Written by Charlotte Aitken, intern for DEP’s Energy and Sustainability Programs, Tulane University Class of 2021

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