Case Studies

DVA Energy

Full-service architecture and energy engineering for long-term paybacks

DVA Architects was established in 1975 as a full-service architecture firm operating mainly in the greater Washington, D.C., area. The veteran-owned small business is located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and has added a new office in Charleston, South Carolina, to further serve the Carolinas and growing international markets.

Over the last 40 years its footprint has grown and today DVA employs a professional staff of 26 people, working throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as well as New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago and California. While the firm has grown, DVA has kept its promise of building longstanding relationships with clients based on excellent service and communication.

DVA combines many facets that affect the design, development and maintenance of buildings by providing smart, sustainable solutions that make sense both economically and environmentally. The firm focuses on architecture and master planning of office, multifamily, mission-critical facilities, institutional, industrial and interior renovations.

Intelligent design and renovation solutions

Under the DVA umbrella are several divisions: DVA Interiors, DVA Multifamily and DVA Consortium. The company’s energy division, DVA Energy, is a leader in sustainable architecture practices incorporating energy efficiency and healthy environments. By minimizing environmental impacts, DVA Energy has delivered many successful LEED-certified projects and Net Zero Energy designs, which not only reduce operating costs, but also work for the client’s goals and objectives.

DVA Energy proudly serves office developers and major data center customers. The company has completed more than 7 million square feet of LEED Gold data center projects in the U.S.

Through intelligent design and renovations, DVA Energy helps property owners reposition outdated and underleased Class B and C office buildings. “We’re also getting more and more into the residential side and we’re working on implementing a Net Zero Energy program for Maryland public schools,” says Richard Donnally, principal of DVA.

DVA EnergyDVA has also completed a handful of global projects, including a 480,000-square-foot LEED Gold international school in Xian, China. Bala Srini, director of DVA Energy, provides oversight on this project and many other LEED projects.

“Our first LEED project was in the early 2000s: a 280,000-square-foot corporate office park,” recounts Srini. “This was back when LEED first came out and we jumped on the bandwagon. At first it was difficult to get developers on board too, but the lenders involved wanted us to hit LEED. The original target was silver and we ended up achieving LEED Gold and it became the first LEED Gold Core and Shell office building in northern Virginia.”

LEED solutions that make sense for owners and occupants

Since its first successful LEED project, DVA Energy has designed and helped develop millions of square feet of LEED-certified and LEED-targeted projects. With in-house architects, DVA Energy is not just another LEED consulting company.

“We strive to adopt passive concepts of sustainable design early in the design process and then systematically develop an integrated design process,” explains Srini. DVA Energy considers the operations, life cycle and return on investment to make economically viable environmental decisions.

DVA Energy also advises and researches utility incentives and federal, state and county tax incentives. “At first, not everyone saw the value and need for LEED,” explains Donnally. “But over time, tenants started to look for it and developers took notice. It became a game of how high of a LEED rating could you get and that really helped the market. It helped tenants in the long run with improved air quality, more access to daylight and reduced energy costs.”

Donnally says DVA Energy helps clients understand how they can afford to do a LEED or green building. “We’re very active in terms of 179-D federal tax deductions, utility company rebates and advising on local property tax credits, which are pretty good in this region, especially in Maryland,” he says. “The more we learn about these incentives, the more we can show our clients how LEED really pays back.”

DVA Energy is currently underway on several large mixed-use developments targeted at LEED Silver and Gold. “Milestone and Little Patuxent Square incorporate a process that combines design with energy efficiency and sustainability, the latest market trends in contextually responsive solutions that maximizes yield, while providing a sense of place and community for the users,” explains Srini. “Our designs are attractive, innovative and fiscally sound.”

Focusing on Net Zero Energy

With millions of LEED square feet under its belt, DVA Energy is now working on two Net Zero Energy projects – the Second Chance Wildlife Center and the Day Laborers Center as well as taking on a role as a Net Zero Energy School Program consultant to the Maryland Energy Administration.

The Second Chance Wildlife Center facility is designed to meet LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy standards through the use of passive design strategies, VRV mechanical system, natural ventilation, day lighting, solar hot water panels, heat pump hot water heaters and thin film photovoltaic roofing. Additionally, rain water harvesting will be treated and used for flushing toilets, laundry and irrigation.

The Maryland Net Zero Energy Schools program is designed to support the development of three new-construction Net Zero Energy schools. “DVA Energy is an independent consultant helping the program administrator [the Maryland Energy Administration], working with the participating county school districts as well as architect and engineering firms contracted to design the school, provide Net Zero Energy building support and help validate the energy aspects of the design,” explains Srini. “The first Net Zero Energy school in Howard County is currently under construction and we are in the process of starting two more in Baltimore City.”

Connecting with other industry leaders

DVA Energy has been a member of the U.S. Green Building Council for nearly a decade and the firm will be attending the annual Greenbuild International Convention and Expo in 2015. “As a member of USGBC we’re able to connect with the green building industry easily and find more business opportunities,” says Srini. “We’ve been to several Greenbuild Conventions and every year the event brings green building experts, thought leaders, visionaries, product manufacturers, suppliers, builders and contractors under one roof to share, inspire and contribute.”

With another trip to Greenbuild and plans for more global projects stretching all the way to Afghanistan, the divisions of DVA – DVA Architects, DVA Energy, DVA Interiors, DVA Multifamily and DVA Consortium – are busy delivering energy retrofits and sustainable solutions that offer significant returns.

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