Archive for April, 2012


HBA weighs in on the Army’s move away from LEED

In Sustainability/LEED®,Wisdom (Lessons Learned) on April 30, 2012 by HBA Tagged: , , , , ,

Earlier this month we read a blog on the Army’s new strategy toward sustainable buildings, and the part that raised some eyebrows: it doesn’t involve the USGBC’s LEED Rating System. Instead, it seems that the Army is developing its own set of standards based on ASHRAE 189.1 “Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings.”

HBA Architect Les Murfin, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, offers this opinion piece about the whole subject of sustainable rating systems and the trend toward codified sustainable design:

Is the end of the USGBC’s growing monopoly near?

What the Army appears to be planning to do and the Navy’s reduced requirements for “Certified Buildings” could be the start of what I have thought would be inevitable: the demise of dominance of the United States Green Building Council.

The intent of the USGBC was to promote green technology and create a healthier environment by how we select sites, construct buildings, and utilize materials and resources. I believe they have accomplished all of this. The USGBC, however, has pushed and continues to push so hard to set the ever increasing standards higher that costs will soon outweigh benefits. Business savvy developers and owners will no longer be willing to pay for a certification letter to verify their building(s) are “Green”.

In my opinion, Green construction is becoming the norm: the bar has been set. Major improvements have been seen even over the last five years, including many government mandates to construct more energy efficient and healthier environments, and to eliminate environmentally hazardous materials. There are many other factors that drive environmental and energy efficient design: the economy, diminishing resources, people’s awareness of working and living in healthier environments, and even large City’s trying to recapture the older dilapidated and unused sections of town through revitalization.

Why then, would owners and investors pay for the privilege of registering their project to get a certificate and a plaque to mount in their building(s) on top of the extra design fees and construction fees to document all the potential “Green Credits”, when all they have to do is ask that their projects be energy efficient and environmentally sound?

Do I think the USGBC should go away? No, absolutely not.

Do I think we should work with what we have and stop pushing, for a while anyway? Yes!

 Les Murfin


Image source: US Army Corps of Engineer Los Angeles District’s Flickr photostream and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License


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Virginia Beach Development Authority April Meeting

In Events on April 25, 2012 by HBA Tagged: , , , ,

Last week Chris Michael and I made our monthly pilgrimage across the street to the VBDA meeting. The City of Virginia Beach Development Authority facilitates the expansion of the tax base through increased business investment. This is always an information-packed meeting with an impressive cast of characters thoughtfully steering Virginia Beach through its ongoing success.

Some of the highlights of the meeting included:

  • Request for approval of three-year extension to Town Center Option Land Agreement for Block 2 (former Beacon site), Block 9 (green space), and strip of land adjacent to One Columbus Center. This was approved by the authority.
  • Town Center update – Target and Walgreens to open this fall, and Pembroke Mall is planning new main entrance.
  • The Centerville SGA (Strategic Growth Area) planning will start May 2nd, and the Hilltop SGA is in progress.
  • Form Based Code and Parking Strategy –The City is issuing a revised version of the code based on stake holder comments this month on April 23rd.

Barry Frankenfield and Ashby Moss presented the 2012 Update on the Oceanfront Form-Based Code – take a look at the highlights they provided…

  Candi James


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Happy Earth Day!

In Sustainability/LEED® on April 23, 2012 by HBA Tagged: , , , ,

To commemorate Earth Day 2012, HBA joined Earth Day Network’s effort to reach one billion pledges for “Acts of Green.”  So far over one billion people and organizations have pledged their Acts of Green, which involve anything from eating local food to using public transportation to converting household lightbulbs to LEDs!

HBA pledged to “Support and promote sustainable design, and encourage HBA employees to participate in Acts of Green at home and the workplace!”

In addition to incorporating sustainable design strategies into our projects as often as possible, we participate in a number of green initiatives right here in the office! We recycle over 50% of waste generated, use hybrid vehicles, and even use pens made up of recyled material!

Earth Day was April 22, but it’s not to late to join in!  Follow this link to commit to our pledge or create one of your own!

-Becky Cook 

images are from

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Computer Donations

In People,Technology on April 18, 2012 by HBA

Last month I decided to clean out my growing collection of PCs, keyboards, and other electronics.  Not wanting to send it to the land fill, it’s been just collecting while I figure out what to do with it.  Eventually I gave it to an e-recycling center, the kind that sets up for a day in the big-box parking lot.  They told me that after they pull the more valuable parts, the rest will be ground up and made into park benches and the like.  But recently I found out about a solution that was WAY better and being done right here by HBA… The TCC Computer Club’s “Computers for Student Success” at Tidewater Community College.  This program accepts unwanted computers, wipes the hard drives, and gives them new life before turning over to students in need.  According to the program director, the first year the club started, they refurbished and issued 200 computers.  Recently that number has topped 1,000 and this year they are shooting for 1,200.   Not only are the overhauled machines going to the student body, but the program has provided the same service to deserving community programs, community members, and a local women’s shelter.

This year HBA donated 7 CPUs, a laptop, 10 CRT monitors, and 2 LCD monitors, and we’re happy to spread the word on this excellent local program.

Donations are accepted 25 hours a week, from 12 pm to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.  For more information see the program’s Facebook fan page at

- Andy Craven

Image credit: ericnvntr’s Flickr stream

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Today, once again, we are all Hokies

In People on April 16, 2012 by HBA

Orange and maroon balloons are released in memory of April 16, 2007.

It’s hard to believe that it has already been 5 years since April 16, 2007. As a freshman at Virginia Tech, I remember huddling in my dorm on that strangely cold morning, watching the news in unbelief as images of my beloved campus flashed across the screen, too numb to process the tragedy that was unfolding live just a few hundred yards from where I sat. The only way to get word out was through AIM Instant Message, and I desperately tried to tell friends and family that I was ok, thanking God that my class in the building next to Norris Hall had been cancelled that morning. I gathered with friends on my hall and we prayed together; cried together.

In the days that followed it seemed as though all national media personnel descended on our little Southwestern Virginia college town, and the Governor and President came to offer their condolences. Support and encouragement poured in from the community, state, nation, and world. Little by little, wounds began to heal, and life returned to normal. I will always remember the lives of the 32 lost that day. I will always be intensely proud to be a Hokie. But today let us echo the sentiment that banded a community and nation together in the wake of a senseless tragedy: Today, once again, we are all Hokies.

-Becky Cook

Image from buridan’s flickr photostream and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License


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Less worse is the new excellent.

Economist Anirban Basu, on signs of financial recovery

Posted April 11, 2012 by HBA

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South Norfolk Technical Assistance Panel

In Events,Front Page on April 9, 2012 by HBA Tagged: , ,

On March 7 and 8, 2012 the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Hampton Roads conducted a 1-1/2 day Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) sponsored by the City of Chesapeake to provide a reality check on the desired redevelopment of the Poindexter Corridor and Historic District of South Norfolk. The panel was comprised of diverse and regionally recognized development experts from throughout Hampton Roads.

For three months prior to the TAP, Andrew Keeney of Kaufman & Canoles and Michael Molzahn of HBA worked with the Chesapeake Planning Department and other key individuals at the City of Chesapeake to develop key issues for evaluation:

  • Evaluation of the Localized Market Area and Regionalized Market Area
  • How perceptions of the area can be changed
  • Recommendation for immediate (6 to 12 months) actions for the Poindexter Street Corridor
  • Evaluation of the merits and intrinsic value of the South Norfolk historic district
  • What scale of investment is feasible for the area

The panel convened Wednesday afternoon March 7 and began with a very informative guided tour of South Norfolk hosted by the Chesapeake Planning Department. Later in the evening the panel met for a dinner, got to know each other, and had a frank discussion of pertinent issues with William Harrell, Chesapeake City Manager.

Thursday morning various individuals from the City of Chesapeake and from the community were invited to express their experiences and ideas for improving South Norfolk. The panel then convened behind closed doors for an intense work session to present recommendations at a 4:30 PM press conference that afternoon. The Virginian Pilot story can be found here.

The final ULI report will be issued in about a month.

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Military Working Dogs

In People on April 4, 2012 by HBA Tagged: , , ,

During one of our projects over the last few years for the Marines at Camp Lejeune, we were involved with a unit that operated Military Working Dogs (MWDs, not WMDs).  It was fascinating.  The dogs had very nice accommodations and top-notch care.  There were dogs of many different breeds and many different training backgrounds, depending upon specialty.  There were the basic Military Police dogs (patrol, drug sniffers, chasers, riot control), casualty search-and-rescue (often seen on the news after earthquakes), and the most expensively-trained dogs, explosive and IED hunters.  This last group, no doubt, has its share of heroes who have given their lives in the line of duty, many times with their operators.  There are also stories of military operators who have risked their lives on behalf of their dogs.  Marine operators  can grow very close to their dogs and are given the opportunity to keep their dogs as a pet once retired.  On the rare but sad occasion that a MWD dies in service with its operator, remains of both have been buried at sea simultaneously.

Another mission for MWDs is support for hostage rescue.  Dogs can be trained to hunt throughout a building for a hostage and lead a rescue team to the objective.  One interesting project HBA had was to design a two-story “search house” in which Navy surface warriors could practice search-and-rescue with their dogs.  It featured a matrix of rooms and doors that, depending on which doors were opened and closed, could be reconfigurable to a multitude of paths, creating unique obstacles and challenges.

What’s really cool was “Dog-Cam” – a remote-feeding camera with battery pack and signal transmitter that could be strapped to the dog’s head and body.  This enabled operators to see and hear, remotely, what the dog sees and hears.  Included were night-vision and infrared-capable cameras that could be used under special conditions.  There were also water-proof sets that could be used when the dogs and operators had to navigate water to their objective.  MWD units have special trailers with heated and air-conditioned compartments for transporting the dogs….all part of the humane and protective care received by these four-legged warriors.

During our work at Lejeune, my favorite MWD was “Dobo,” a large, handsome male Vizsla, that was very gentle and friendly.  I first met Dobo sometime in 2007, when we visited the existing MWD facility at Lejeune in conjunction with planning a new facility for MWDs for MARSOC.  I saw Dobo again in 2009 at Lejeune after he had successfully completed two tours in Afghanistan.  Dobo was one of the high-end IED hunters, and was so successful in detecting IEDs that the Taliban actually put out a bounty on him.  At age 6 years, Dobo was retired from service, in January 2010, according to a report to Congress found online concerning disposition of MWDs.  Dobo was one of 338 MWDs adopted or transferred in 2010.  That same year, 11 MWDs were killed in action, one was missing and presumed dead, and another 58 MWDs were euthanized to prevent suffering from debilitating medical conditions, often the result of direct combat action.

- Richard Corner

Image from US Army’s Flickr stream and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

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Thelma Drake – Virginia Passenger Rail Update

In Events,Front Page,People on April 2, 2012 by HBA

Wednesday, March 21, was an inspiring day for the members of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) when Thelma Drake shared her insight for the future of public transportation in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thelma is the Director of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). The DRPT’s mission is to improve mobility and expand transportation choices in Virginia. The Agency is charged with establishing, maintaining, improving and promoting public transportation, transportation demand management, rides sharing, and passenger and freight rail transportation in the Commonwealth. Take a look at Thelma’s presentation materials… Thelma believes and makes you believe in the power of public transportation in our state!

-Candi James

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