Bezos: Won’t you be my green neighbor?

Company to power HQ2 with 100 percent renewable energy by 2030

Article by Alysha Sideman

Photography by site renderings by Amazon

Originally published in Arlington Lifestyle

A few days after Valentine's Day, Jeff Bezos posted an instagram photo of our planet hanging  in the blackness of space. 

 "I’m thrilled to announce I am launching the Bezos Earth Fund," the Amazon CEO, space entrepreneur and newspaper owner wrote.⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣⁣He added: " I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share." 

The global initiative, set to begin this summer, would commit $10 billion to fund scientists, activists and NGOs. It calls for collective action from big and small companies, nations, global organizations and individuals. ⁣⁣⁣

Several weeks earlier, Bezos announced a rollout of rickshaw delivery fleets in India. They will be fully electric, with zero carbon emissions.

For Arlington residents, Bezos’s heightened green conscience is perfect timing: Amazon just moved into the neighborhood. It began development this year on its second headquarters, known as HQ2, in Crystal City, where two towers will stretch 22 stories into the Arlington sky. Its development will also spread into parts of Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard in Alexandria. 

Arlington’s own environmental awakening didn't begin with Bezos. The county is rife with green spaces, parks and ecological programs. Amazon, meanwhile, doesn’t have a perfect ecological record. Employees have protested its decision to provide cloud computing services to oil and gas companies, for example. However, the online retail giant is making its Arlington construction a model of sustainability- a move that fits into Bezos’ new initiative. 

Amazon in Arlington

The company’s $2 billion Arlington headquarters will create at least 25,000 high-wage jobs over the next 12 years.

The Arlington County Board ironed out the details with Bezos after numerous meetings. 

Former chairman Christian Dorsey called the deal “extraordinary” after it was approved, adding that the headquarters “comes with energy commitments that are unprecedented in Arlington.”

Dorsey was partly referring to Amazon’s commitment for non-carbon, renewable energy to fully power the Arlington headquarters by 2030. It will either be produced on-site or through renewable energy credits.

To help reduce its environmental impact on Arlington, the new headquarters will meet the requirements of the Community Energy Plan, which is designed to ensure the entire county is carbon neutral by 2050. The first phase of Amazon’s headquarter will be built at Metropolitan Park, a 16-acre mixed-use complex with a central green.

The campus will include 4 million square feet of energy-efficient office space, a footprint that could eventually double. A block of 1950s-era former warehouses will be turned into two new LEED Platinum-certified buildings. There will also be several levels of green roofs, on-site parks, public open spaces, and 620 secure bicycle parking spaces. Pedestrians and cyclists will have upgraded bike lanes and pathways.

More than an acre of new open space will feature a dog park, recreation areas and farmers markets, helping realize the community’s vision for a centrally-located park. There are plans for the developer to maintain the finished public park and new open spaces.  

Amazon and the county agreed to buy all of the electricity generated by a solar farm to be built by Dominion Energy in Pittsylvania County. The project, called the Amazon Arlington Solar Farm, will be completed in 2022, with Amazon taking about two-thirds of the energy and the county using the rest. 

"To address the climate crisis and transition to a low-carbon economy, the majority of the world's energy must come from zero-carbon power sources, but renewable energy buyers face regulatory and market hurdles," said Patrick Leonard, senior manager of Amazon’s renewable energy procurement team, who led the initiative. 

[pull out] "My role working with the team in Arlington County involved sharing perspectives on how to strategically assess a renewable energy project that is right for a business or a government and the environment. We are thrilled that we could share this project with Arlington County,"  said Leonard.

Leonard, also participates in learning sessions through the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance to share the best ways to approach energy projects with other companies. His experience helped Amazon work with Arlington to achieve the renewable energy goals.

“[We are] pleased that Amazon shares our commitment to renewable energy and to achieving net carbon zero in our operations,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.

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