The New Towson City Center Project

Date: May 10, 2010

The Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Credits for LEED certification are the major reason why LEED-certified buildings are believed to lead to greater employee health, productivity, and morale. IEQ credits can be obtained for features such as increased ventilation, reduction in the use of volatile organic compounds, and facilitation of greater occupant control of heating and cooling systems.

Employee health problems became a significant problem for commercial facilities in late twentieth century, as occupants of "sick buildings" came down with an array of symptoms, including headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors. These conditions were attributed to poor ventilation systems and biological and chemical contaminants present in carpets, paints, and mechanical equipment. Buildings where such features were believed to have led to the aforementioned symptoms were labeled as "sick buildings."

One Investment Place, in Towson, was one such office building. Its tenants, mainly state and local governments, moved out in 2001 and 2002, believing that the facility had led to employee health issues. Such was never proven, but once the building was labeled as "sick", it had a difficult time attracting new tenants. Despite an enviable location near the corner of York and Delaney, tt has sat empty since 2002.

Now, its new owner proposes to completely remake it, stripping the building down to its steel structure and rebuilding its facade and building systems to erect a largely new building it plans to name "Towson City Center," leased to a mix of retail and commercial office tenants.

The new Towson City Center project will advance sustainability goals in a couple of ways. First, its owner plans to obtain a LEED Siler or Gold Certification, which would require that it attain at least one IEQ credit. In any event, new building systems should be environmentally superior to the old ones, whether they caused sick building syndrome in its occupants or not. Additionally, any new well-occupied commercial space in downtown Towson will enhance its status as a dense, walkable community.