Long existing in the shadows of the University of Virginia, companies helping lead the clean energy, biotechnology, quantitative finance, and other future-oriented sectors are bringing Charlottesville’s dynamic and innovative economy to national prominence.
At the heart of this emergence is Apex Clean Energy. Since its founding in 2009, Apex has based its operations here, initially benefiting from an ability to attract talent with ties to UVA or those seeking the quality of life found in this historic and bucolic town on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Today, opportunities to join the Apex team draw interest from coast to coast.
In late 2021, Apex will take occupancy of a new corporate headquarters located in the city’s Strategic Investment Area. When complete, Apex Plaza will represent the company’s long-term commitment to its hometown and reinforce Apex’s mission to accelerate the shift to clean energy and its vision of building a sustainable future for all.
Cross-Laminated Timber Framing, Clean Energy, Natural Materials Make Apex Plaza a Sustainability Leader Across the Mid-Atlantic
At its core, Apex Plaza is a physical manifestation of the company’s mission. The Plaza’s architecture is underpinned by the Cradle to Cradle Design™ framework, modeled by world-renowned and Charlottesville-based architect William McDonough, and is characterized by three principles: to procure materials that can be repurposed, to use clean and renewable energy, and to celebrate diversity in nature and idea. These principles are reflected in all aspects of the building, from the timber structure to the integrated renewable energy generation.
The cross-laminated timber structure, on the leading edge of sustainable construction, has revolutionized the ongoing construction process, providing schedule savings, creating a safer work environment, and minimizing community impact.
The timber itself, sourced from 1.6 million board feet of black spruce trees, represents seven minutes worth of growth in North American forests and connects Apex’s mission to the preservation of the natural world.
By prioritizing clean power generation, green building materials, and state-of-the-art efficiency initiatives, Apex Plaza also makes the transition from energy consumption to energy optimization. The building’s 875-panel solar array will produce over 350 MWh—allowing Apex’s offices to operate on net-zero energy and Apex employees to charge their electric vehicles with sunlight harvested in real time.
Bringing the Energy Transition to Light, Every Day
After years of planning, the building marks a milestone for Apex as it enters a new chapter. Once focused solely on utility-scale wind development, Apex is now a fully integrated clean energy company that provides highly customized, unique energy solutions for some of the world’s largest and most environmentally committed corporations and utilities.
Even as the clean energy technologies encompassing Apex’s portfolio have expanded to include solar, energy storage, and green hydrogen, one thing remains the same: the team’s singular focus on accelerating the shift to clean energy.
This mission—Apex’s True North—remains ever important. Three unique design features in the seventh-floor atrium of Apex Plaza are designed to unite the team with this mission on a daily basis.
Each afternoon, as the sun peaks in the sky, light floods through the room’s skylight—drawing on the energy resource that powers Apex’s work and directing the team toward a common purpose. A stainless-steel floorplate runs parallel through the lobby: a visual reminder to maintain alignment with that objective. And the room’s bright white welcome desk, parallel to the floorplate and skylight, represents the transition away from what will be known as the dark ages of fossil fuel energy production.
Apex Plaza, on the cutting edge of sustainable design, mirrors the company’s work at the forefront of the new energy economy. The scales are tipping—rapidly—in favor of a cleaner, more sustainable world, both in building and energy generation. And on both fronts, with True North always top of mind, Apex is leading the pack.