RESA at 22 M Street NE is a uniquely designed mixed-use 316-unit, 325,000 sf, 13-story high-rise apartment building in Washington DC’s NoMa neighborhood. Paladino was selected by Skanska USA Commercial Development and architect Design Collective to integrate a sustainability strategy into the project vision. In addition to its residential units, there is approximately 7,500 square feet of retail space and a below-grade parking garage. This was Skanska’s first multifamily project in the DC area, and they intended to demonstrate their unique values-driven approach to building design and construction.

Skanska chose an ideal location to develop the RESA apartments and demonstrated the firm’s commitment to sustainability across several dimensions, which resulted in a universally greener development. NoMa is a rapidly developing urban neighborhood surrounded by government buildings, 19th and 20th-century residential brick housing, and the Union Station railyard. Skanska and Design Collective seized an opportunity to differentiate RESA through its design, which stands apart from the recently developed neighboring structures, maximizes residents’ views, provides a restful haven to tenants, and brings a wellness-focused Scandinavian lifestyle concept to life. RESA represented a first-time collaboration between Skanska and Baltimore-based Design Collective. Design Collective was chosen because of the firm’s fresh perspective to residential building in DC.

Skanska USA Commercial Development brings industry-leading sustainability requirements to projects, requiring all of its projects to achieve a minimum of LEED Gold certification. Skanska builds for a better society, and the company’s values guide their work toward a sustainable future for customers, and communities. Inspired and evidenced by the Nordic perspective on the environment, investors have come to expect Skanska’s high bar for sustainability on projects. Skanska’s commitment to wellness is expressed through every aspect of their projects, including a high priority on safety on the construction site.

Paladino and Company was engaged early in the project and served as the sustainability consultant, LEED consultant, and commissioning agent. Paladino was selected based on the firm’s extensive local experience, aspirational abilities, successful working history with Design Collective, and full-service approach to sustainability and LEED consulting.

“Paladino took this project under their wing and took all of the worry out of the process,” said Eric Lowe, associate architect and Project Manager for Design Collective, “Paladino’s comprehensive approach gave us the confidence to trust Paladino to drive the LEED certification and commissioning process while we focused on design.”

Paladino began by conducting an eco-charrette, working in partnership with Skanska and their branding consultant, Design Army. By bringing branding together with Paladino for the eco-charrette, the team was able to align strategies to broader goals.

The eco-charrette explored values around sustainability and wellness for the RESA  Apartments and included the review and discussion of the project’s demographics, psychographics, brand platform, amenities, and sustainability features. Using the brand platform as a guide, the eco-charrette also explored the connections between sustainability and the project’s proposition, core values, personality, and essence. The Sustainability Brief that Paladino delivered documented four project pillars including:

  1. Movement & Activity – creating spaces and programs to support health and physical activity;
  2. Community – programming that encourages collaboration and connection internally within the resident community and externally to the neighborhood;
  3. Connection to Nature – design that encourages interaction with the outdoors & natural systems;
  4. Resident Experience – exceptional resident services including a 24/7 concierge program.

Paladino fully managed the LEED certification process, including establishing an initial LEED scorecard and gap analysis, collaborating across the integrated team to lead all related integration tasks, documentation, and calculations; and managing all submissions and interactions with GBCI through the certification.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about how we at Skanska USA Commercial Development approach sustainability for our projects,” said Sarah King Sustainability Director of Skanska USA Commercial Development, “We are pushing ourselves further and earlier in the design phases. The landscape is changing quickly, so I think about where we can push ourselves to connect with the expectations of tomorrow’s tenants and investors.”

Features that contributed to project sustainability and resident experience at the RESA Apartments include:

Movement & Activity

  • Wellness activities have been incorporated into the program, including yoga sessions in the interior amenity space on the roof. The flexible design makes it possible for the residents and property managers to adapt the space to their needs and desires.
  • The project is developed on a walkable urban site with access to public transit.
  • RESA has a beautiful and bustling fitness center.
  • Ample bike rack storage for residents.

Community

  • Common areas in the penthouse open to the rooftop area to create a giant living room where residents can connect with each other.
  • The meander, a landscaped pedestrian plaza connecting M Street to Patterson Street is intended to enhance the pedestrian experience, making the site more walkable and getting people out of their cars. Potential uses include activities such as outdoor movies, public fitness classes, happy hours and wine tastings, and live music.
  • The project is located within walking distance of employers, retail, services, and has additional easy access to public transportation.
  • Flexible community spaces create a social component to help neighbors connect with each other, which contributes to tenant mental health.

Connection to Nature

  • The amenity blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, with abundant plantings and an 18’ curtain wall that links the RESA to the meander.
  • Abundant daylighting connects residents to their circadian rhythms.
  • Landscape architect Parker Rodriguez designed the meander with a wave concept as an homage to the Tiber Creek that passed through the site.
  • The design’s unique alternating bay windows maximize views, connecting residents to the surrounding community.
  • A courtyard on the second floor includes fire features and outdoor seating areas outside with landscaping that lets residents breathe fresh air and connect with nature.
  • The roof deck creates another connection to nature through verdant planting and gardens around the pool.
  • Native and adaptive plants were selected to be appropriate for this area and drought tolerant
  • The front door opens to and anchors the meander, which extends beyond the site to the north and south. This provides residents with access to a grand and dynamic green space that is rare in the street grid of Washington DC.

Resident Experience

  • The common areas are designed in a muted palette intended to bring calm and comfort to residents through a unified, sophisticated and consistent vision.
  • A construction IAQ management plan protected indoor air quality during construction.
  • Units were designed to maximize the area with a view of the outdoors.
  • Amenity spaces were designed for maximum flexibility to encourage social gatherings and resident connections.
  • Public seating areas offer respite and comfort.

Additional sustainability strategies at the RESA Apartments include:

  • The project showcases the character of the community by including local art in the amenity spaces and corridors.
  • The locally-produced precast panel approach to the skin minimized construction waste and reduced the fuel required for material transit.
  • The project team balanced the efficiency of energy and water, including highly efficient fixtures.
  • Skanska complied with ISO 14001; a quality management standard that outlines key requirements companies should comply with in order to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. The RESA project has trained 850+ people on Skanska’s Environmental Management System throughout construction. Skanska maintains its ISO 14001 certification through an independent third-party audit through a registered certification body.
  • A focus on air quality was supported by incorporating low-emitting materials including paints, adhesives, flooring, and composite wood
  • A green roof, bioretention planters, and cisterns in the garage all support stormwater and wastewater management.
  • The project includes apartments that are both mechanically ventilated and naturally ventilated to ensure comfort in the event of a power failure.
  • The project is part of a larger, multi-building development that will share a collective parking strategy to further reduce the amount of resources dedicated to parking.

“LEED Gold doesn’t have to be intimidating or require complicated approaches,” said Amanda Cunningham, Sr. Consultant for Paladino and Company, “When developers and architects look at RESA and work with Paladino, I hope they see how painless a LEED v4 Gold project really should be.”

Results for the RESA Apartments / 22M:

  • LEED Gold certification
  • The property management team, Bozzuto, is using the wellness features as a focus and a draw for new tenants. They reported that lease-up is happening ahead of the anticipated pace.
  • Project was sold to Northwestern Mutual in June 2019