We’d like to thank our Arlington neighbors and the County Board for their partnership and feedback through the years-long process of designing PenPlace, a project we believe will benefit the entire region. With the County Board’s approval, we look forward to continuing our work with the community as we take the next steps on this journey to build an integrated, innovative, and sustainable second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
We announced in late 2018 that Arlington, Virginia, would be home to Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2) and that we would bring more than 25,000 jobs to the region. Since then, we’ve made some significant progress in our commitment to be a trusted business and community partner. We’ve continued to engage with local organizations and now work with over 100 nonprofits, civic groups, and small businesses, providing in-kind support and charitable donations.
Our hard-working recruiting teams have crossed an important hiring milestone, with more than 5,000 employees now assigned to our second headquarters. Our construction partners have put in more than 2 million hours of work and recently celebrated finishing the top floor—the “topping out”—of Met Park, the first phase of HQ2. And finally, our architecture, design, sustainability, and transportation teams have engaged with the local community and partnered with Arlington County to continue improving the design of PenPlace, the next phase of our development.
As we prepare to take the next step in our more than $2.5 billion HQ2 investment, we want to provide a snapshot of what the project will bring to the Arlington community and the wider region. Here are some highlights:
More sustainable, by design
When we announced the development of HQ2, we challenged ourselves to think big and design Amazon’s buildings in a way that helps lead the industry toward net-zero carbon. In pursuit of this goal, we have electrified the operations of HQ2, eliminating the use of fossil fuels for buildings systems and our food service. We’ve committed to powering 100% of HQ2’s operations with renewable energy through a combination of off-site and on-site solar projects, aligning with The Climate Pledge, Amazon’s commitment to be net-zero carbon across its operations by 2040.
To do this, we’ve contracted 82 megawatts (MW) of energy from a new 120 MW solar farm in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, which is expected to generate 172,500 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually once operational later this year. The renewable energy generated at this site will be used in part for the operation of HQ2 and other Amazon-owned buildings across Virginia, including Whole Foods Market stores and Amazon fulfillment centers. The remaining portion of energy generated by the solar farm has been contracted by Arlington County and will provide clean energy for use in the region. At PenPlace, we will also have rooftop solar panels installed, totaling 1 MW of clean energy capacity to further support our sustainability efforts.
Our plans to focus on sustainability at PenPlace include:
- Committing to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the highest sustainability certification for a development issued by the U.S. Green Building Council.
- Integrating strategic climate-responsive design for our office buildings, including high-performance glazing and built-in solar shading that will reduce the need for building heating and cooling, targeting a savings of 30% over the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) baseline.
- Providing more than 125 electric vehicle charging stations, with the ability to double capacity as needed.
- Leveraging low-flow fixtures and reclaimed water usage to reduce water consumption by 50% beyond national standards.
- Reducing the amount of embodied carbon in the concrete structure compared to typical construction practices by at least 10%, along with a commitment to offset 100% of the remaining embodied carbon from building materials.
- Using bird-safe glass where appropriate on all seven buildings at PenPlace to ensure that the development is safer for the region’s bird population.
Connecting the neighborhood
We’ve designed PenPlace to be part of the local neighborhood because we want both employees and local residents to enjoy the space equally. This means considering how people will travel to get to PenPlace and how they will utilize the space each day. Our plans prioritize access by foot, bike, and public transportation, with a 15-foot-wide multimodal path that will be part of the Green Ribbon, a network of pedestrian and shared-use pathways throughout the neighborhood. When complete, PenPlace will provide more than 900 interior and exterior bike storage stalls, to encourage bike commuting over the use of single-occupancy vehicles. All vehicle movements on-site will occur underground, including loading docks, which allows for contiguous outdoor public space with gathering areas, public plazas, and ample green space for the community to enjoy.
Providing parks and public space
After engaging with the local community, we heard feedback from our neighbors and shifted our designs to integrate more planting areas and maximize publicly accessible green space at PenPlace. The project will create 2.75 acres of public park space, available for community use, including immersive forest rooms, shaded seating groves, water features, and many native and pollinator gardens. We will plant more than 100 native plant species and over 500 new trees throughout the site—all inspired by the natural ecosystems of the surrounding region. An open-air amphitheater will provide space for programming and events, including concerts, farmers markets, and evening movie screenings. We will also build a dog run for Arlington’s four-legged residents.
Adding vibrancy to the neighborhood
One of the main opportunities of designing a welcoming, inviting, and well-connected development will be the ability to support vibrant, local small businesses. PenPlace will provide more than 100,000 square feet of space for dining, shopping, a childcare facility, and other opportunities across the main buildings and three retail pavilions. We’re also dedicating over 26,500 square feet to establish a new home for Arlington County Community High School. This public school will provide an opportunity for approximately 300 students to pursue their academic goals while preparing for the future.
Building more than office space
The Helix, a spiral-shaped building in the northeast corner of PenPlace, will become a landmark for Arlington and the National Landing area. This distinctive building will take our biophilic-led design principles to new heights, integrating nature and working to inspire innovation and invention. The interior of the Helix will provide formal and casual meeting spaces in an environment filled with more than 25,000 square feet of planting areas and living walls. The exterior of the structure will feature two paths for employees to engage with colleagues in meetings or to take in views of Arlington, the Potomac River, and Washington, D.C. The Helix will also be home to an artist-in-residence program and a meeting center, and it will be open to the public and community to enjoy two days per month. We can’t wait for everyone to see this unique and thoughtfully designed space come to life.
Engaging with the local community
We know that success and scale bring broad responsibility, and we strive to be good neighbors in the communities in which we operate. When we chose National Landing as the site of HQ2, we made a commitment to be a trusted business and community partner in the region, and our work to become a part of the fabric of this community reflects that commitment daily.
Since we announced Arlington as the site of HQ2 in 2018, we have committed more than $35 million in total investments to local nonprofits, community groups, public schools, and businesses. This includes both monetary and in-kind donations—like school supplies to public schools across Northern Virginia and food donations to local food banks and pantries for families in need. We also know that housing affordability is front of mind for many in the community. Through the Housing Equity Fund, we’ve contributed more than $800 million to support affordable housing in the Arlington and metro-Washington, D.C., areas, with more to come. Since the launch of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund 15 months ago, our efforts are helping to create and preserve more than 4,400 affordable homes. Based on data provided by Arlington County, the Fund has helped to increase the affordable housing stock in Arlington by 22%.
We will continue to engage with the Arlington community to understand how we can best support the issues that matter to local residents. Our goal is to build a second headquarters that integrates into the surrounding neighborhood and benefits the entire region. We appreciate Arlington County and the community’s partnership in this process, and we are excited to continue the conversation.