The Endocrine Society — the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology — has moved to a home befitting of its status. The new space is a 34,000-square-foot office condominium located at 2055 L Street NW, in the heart of the central business district in Washington, D.C.’s Golden Triangle.
This will mark the first time in the Society’s nearly 100-year history that it has owned office space. The improved facility — located on the sixth floor of an eight-story building — provides the Society with space for expansion to accommodate for its projected growth and stated mission.
“We’re a growing organization,” says John Heberlein, deputy executive director and COO of the Endocrine Society. “To complement the Society’s excellent staff, we’re also [now] in a good area to attract the top talent in the entire metropolitan D.C. area.”
Securing the Future
The purchase of the new office space grants the Society with several financial advantages as well as “long-term value” for its members, according to Heberlein. He says that compared to leasing office space, the Society will break even in just 10 years.
“Buying this space locks the costs down,” Heberlein says. “We know what our costs will be. We’re in an area where rents go up. They don’t go down. This won’t be like leasing where you turn in the keys at the end of the lease and have nothing to show for it; it’s an investment that provides long-term value and equity for our members.”
The new facility also provides the Society with a permanent home, which, again, wouldn’t have been possible through leasing.
“With this purchase and move,” Heberlein says, “we’re securing a long-term future.”
Taking the LEED
Right from the beginning, the Society identified LEED-CI (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design-Commercial Interiors) certification as something it wanted to pursue in this relocation. Multiple staff members were very keen to learn more about sustainable construction, and as an organization which encourages others to become more aware of their activities’ and products’ effect on the environment and human health, the Society was eager to serve as a positive example through the construction of its new facility.
The firm hired to design the Society’s new space was OTJ Architects in Washington, D.C., which targeted LEED-CI certification at the beginning of the process. “We started talking about LEED at exactly the right time,” says Lida Lewis, director of sustainability at OTJ Architects, “before we even selected a building.”
They came up with a target LEED score, which informed the location and buildout of the new facility. Criteria included a dense urban area with access to community amenities and public transportation — factors that are rewarded in the LEED certification process.
Lewis and her team then got to work researching and investigating materials to actively avoid using in the design and construction process. In addition to reviewing the Society’s own statement on endocrine disruptors, they gathered and provided to the teams research papers from the World Health Organization, the Silent Spring Institute, and the “relatively new” Pharos website to weed out construction materials that contain materials disruptive to reproductive and other endocrine systems, particularly those with three or more studies supporting their inclusion on the TEDX List of Potential Endocrine Disruptors.
“We’re a medical society,” Heberlein says, “and we especially recognize the problem of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.”
While the science and identification of disruptors such as propiconazole, butyl benzyl phthalate, boric acid, 2,4-dihydrobenzopheone, etc., is still emerging, and content of many building materials is as yet unreported or unknown as to what quantities or application are disruptive to human health, the investigation prompted by the Society’s mission was a definite new field of exploratory research for the entire construction team. Every effort was made, when known and reported, to avoid products with harmful ingredients, and in the case of paints, adhesives, some carpet materials, and others, the research available at the time was able to steer and inform the design team’s specifications in new directions. Unfortunately, avoiding endocrine-disrupting chemicals and compounds is not yet rewarded by LEED, Lewis says, as “the science is just too new.”
Lewis adds that it’s rewarding to “work for people who understand that LEED is important, that it has great impacts on the larger community.”
“Being owners, we have the ability to control that,” Heberlein says, “to provide a safe and healthy work environment.” He adds that obtaining the LEED certification “fits with our mission so perfectly.”
Location, Location, Location
The Endocrine Society also partnered with The Ezra Company — a leading commercial real estate firm — and set their sights not only on urban areas with access to public transportation and community amenities, but also spaces that could provide an office environment spread across one contiguous floor.
“Purchasing in D.C. can be a challenge,” says Glenn Meltzer, president of The Ezra Co., “as many office spaces for purchase come on 4,000 to 5,000-square-foot floor-plates, meaning [the Society] would be spread out over nine floors.”
They eventually settled on an eight-story office building originally built in 1963 and renovated in 2010. The building at 2055 L Street NW has a total square footage of 258,000 square feet, and the Endocrine Society is now the proud owner of 34,000 of them, and that means Society staff and visiting members can now work, congregate, and even grow, on one floor. “An organization of [the Society’s] size should really be on one floor,” Meltzer says.
Other benefits to the staff and members include the myriad community amenities and access to public
transportation, airports, and a variety of hotels, things that weren’t readily available at the Society’s former location in Chevy Chase, Md. L Street is serviced by two D.C. Metro lines and several major bus lines, allowing staff and visiting members easier and more efficient commutes. The Society has the ability to bring its membership to them, as the new facility is much more accessible to members. In addition, more member meetings will be held in the Society’s new conference rooms.
According to Society president Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD, the Endocrine Society is increasing its visibility and value to its members by moving to L Street. “Our proximity to other medical and advocacy organizations will ensure that we are ‘seen and heard’ in the many important arenas where policy is debated and made,” she says. “There has never been a time like the present for the Endocrine Society with our new brand, new CEO, and new space — member value is increasing dramatically, ensuring the Endocrine Society is poised for leadership around the globe.”
Society CEO Barbara Byrd Keenan echoes Woodruff’s sentiments: “This was a prudent and forward-thinking financial investment to ensure that the organization will be viable in the future,” she says. “It allows us to enhance our visibility in the most vibrant association community in the world and demonstrate value with our partners on an ongoing basis.”
— Bagley is the associate editor of Endocrine News. He wrote about the highlights from ENDO2013 in the August 2013 issue and writes the Trends & Insights section each month.