News and Press
April 27, 2010
The Capital / HometownAnnapolis.com - Skip Gardiner adopts green-building methods
By ELISHA SAUERS, Staff Writer
Francis E. Gardiner Jr., known to even his business colleagues as simply "Skip," coolly understates what he does for a living.
"I'm just a dirt-digger and a concrete-pourer," he said with a laugh as he stood outside his company's newest endeavor at the Priest Bridge Business Park in Crofton.
Jokes aside, Gardiner said he understands the profound role that developers can have in a community. In a career that spans more than 40 years, his company's major jobs dot the local landscape: the Outpatient Building and Surgery Center at Anne Arundel Medical Center, renovations at The Key School, the Annapolis Yacht Club and an addition at Broadneck High School, to name just a handful.
Coming full circle, his company has just finished two office buildings at the site of his first project. Before it was called Priest Bridge Business Park, it was acres of farm land with just one tiny red house on the corner.
These new buildings are likely to receive silver-rated Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - or "LEED" - certifications. The project is being assessed by the U.S. Green Building Council, and could be among the first flex buildings in the county to receive the designation.
In today's age, an emphasis on environmentally friendly building is coming to the fore. Gardiner wanted to try the cutting-edge LEED design standards as an experiment - just to prove to himself that he could do it.
"Some of it is very worthwhile, and some of it's an awful lot of paper-shuffling," he said. "And some of it isgoing back to principles we already know, like recessed windows. Your grandfather's windows were set back. Air-conditioning was what changed that, but we've known how setting them back makes them more efficient."
On their face, the buildings look fairly ordinary. But behind that simple brick facade and basic rectangular layout lies fruit of lots and lots of planning.
Gardiner's company had to ensure the construction materials were local and recycled, install energy-efficient water, heating and cooling systems and meet many other standards. The 36-page site plan was daunting compared to the three-page site plans Gardiner remembers from the beginning of his development career.
It's a much tougher job than it used to be, he willfully admits, and the trend toward higher-efficiency standards is just a fraction of what has made building more complicated. Gardiner asserts that mounting impact and permit fees, as well as the difficulty posting expensive bonds for projects, can pose major hurdles.
As his career is winding down, he said he doesn't envy his sons, who are all in the building industry, with what they face.
"Most people don't understand how much riskier it is," he said.
Despite these risks, Michael H. Gardiner, one of Gardiner's four sons and vice president of development, said market forces and an environmentally conscious mindset are pushing the company and others toward green building.
"I think that's where things are pretty much headed, and that's why we decided to pursue it," Michael said. "We've all got to be good stewards of the land and respect the land."
According to the Green Building Institute, a nonprofit based in Jessup that focuses on sustainable construction education, buildings across the country make up 39 percent of primary energy consumption, use more than 12 percent of drinking water and exhaust 40 percent of raw materials.
Dave Woolley-Wilson, executive director of the institute, said one of the greatest challenges is educating existing builders on the benefits of incorporating these higher standards into their practices.
"I think there's always a learning curve when you're doing something new, and with the first projects, the learning curve is always a little steeper," Woolley-Wilson said. "I think green buildings are helping to lead our way out of the construction slump. Sustainable commercial buildings have higher occupancy rates and higher lease rates because of the understood higher performance they give to consumers."
Gardiner said much like the modern consumer, he gets it. Growing up on a farm in Davidsonville as a child instilled in him a love of the environment. He owns a farm today in south county, and even paid his way through college by raising cattle.
"When it's in your blood, it's in your blood," Gardiner said. "I guess you could see a conflict between developing and farming, but it has taught me to appreciate the ground. I'll move a parking lot if it'll save a tree."
April 05, 2012
Gardiner Realty and Development Co. of Crofton, MD has been honored with a recognition by Baltimore Business Journal in its selection of "Largest Commercial Real Estate Brokerages In The Baltimore Area."
October 10, 2011
Dunkirk Gateway Business Center Opens in Calvert County
April 05, 2011
The Capital / HometownAnnapolis.com - Business Notes
February 05, 2007
Gardiner Completes Pre-Leasing at Crofton Bldg.
August 28, 2005
Development Spotlight: Priest Bridge Business Park
April 23, 2004
Priest Bridge Business Park Grows