Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (October 30, 2003) -- Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Acting Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick congratulates Himmelrich Associates, the developers of the Montgomery Park Business Center, on earning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Phoenix Award grand prize for excellence in brownfields redevelopment. MDE is headquartered in the Montgomery Park Business Center, the region’s largest “Green Building,” involving energy efficiency, recycling, and sustainable materials.

“It is only appropriate that our agency should set the example for being environmentally responsible,” Acting Secretary Phibrick said. “Projects such as this are the type of successes we want to become commonplace. By reinvesting in an existing community and reusing an older building, we are making sound economic and environmental decisions that will benefit the surrounding community, city and state.”

According to EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh, the Montgomery Park Business Center was chosen for its innovative approach to cleaning up a contaminated site and revitalizing an economically depressed area of downtown Baltimore. The center was financed through a unique partnership among governmental and private sources, and the building itself uses a sustainable redevelopment design.

A 30,000 square foot section of the 8-story Montgomery Park Business Center is covered with an extensive Green Roof, an innovative storm water management control to reduce runoff while minimizing impervious surfaces and providing new habitat in urban areas. Plants indigenous to alpine environments will form a dense vegetation mat that will reduce runoff by approximately 75 percent. Additionally, storm water is collected from the site and used for flushing toilets and irrigation. MDE employees utilize workstations engineered and constructed of sustainable materials, including work surfaces made of wheatboard and partitions made of recycled newspaper. All of the carpeting in MDE’s space is comprised of recycled material.

Montgomery Park Business Center, also home of the Maryland Lottery and the largest historic building restoration in Maryland, is a brownfield site located in a Baltimore City Empowerment Zone, Enterprise Zone and a Directed Growth Zone. For decades beginning in 1926, the location served as the former Montgomery Wards East Coast Catalog House and distribution center.

The “Green Building” Initiative is intended to promote economic development, especially in distressed urban areas, by creating new job opportunities, expanding the tax base, utilizing the existing infrastructure and preventing urban sprawl.

The Phoenix Awards are presented to redevelopment projects that use innovative environmental solutions that have positive impacts on their communities. Montgomery Park Business Center, now 40 percent occupied, opened last year and is expected to create or retain 3,500 to 5,000 jobs. Currently, about 1,800 new and retained jobs are housed in the building, well on the way to meeting the original projection.

The award, which is named after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes symbolizing eternal life, was presented today at the National Brownfields Conference at the Oregon Convention Center. Brownfields are abandoned commercial or industrial properties where redevelopment has been hampered by potential liability for contamination.

The Phoenix Awards are widely recognized as the outstanding award for achievement of excellence in brownfields redevelopment. Fifty-two projects from 17 states have received the prestigious honor. One Phoenix Award winner is selected from each of the EPA’s 10 regions, one from international submissions and one grand prize winner.