The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is renovating its existing 62,000-square-foot headquarters building, located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to serve our mission of “science for the benefit of humanity” and to realize our vision “to collaboratively advance and communicate science and its power to ensure a sustainable future.”

Why This, Why Now?

In 2013, it became clear that AGU’s aging building and its infrastructure was reaching the end of its useful life and that a major renovation was inevitable. Presented with this necessity, the AGU Board of Directors decided to take on the challenge of renovating our headquarters to become a living representation of AGU’s mission, science, and purpose.

Project Goals

  • Inform the public about the positive impact our science can have on society by providing a space for interactive public exhibits that will showcase our members’ work and demonstrate how Earth and space science is contributing to solving the pressing problems facing society.
  • Promote collaboration by creating a state-of-the-art meeting and conference space that will serve as a vital resource for our members, the broader Earth and space science community, partner organizations, and the public.
  • Lead by example and strive to become the first-ever “net zero” renovation of an existing building in the District, thus catalyzing the incorporation of similar approaches and designs into new and existing facilities throughout the city and beyond.
  • Develop a 21st century work space that utilizes technologies and flexible design to foster a healthy and collaborative work environment with an emphasis on well-being for staff and building tenants.
  • Raise the visibility of AGU, our members and our science, and be an amenity to both the Earth and space science community and our neighbors in the Washington, D.C. region.
“We want to renovate this building so that whatever we’re taking out of the environment, we can put it back so that we’re operating in a very sustainable ecosystem. What we want our members to see is that we’ve continued the legacy that inspired this building when it was built in the early 90s … and what we are doing now builds upon that legacy, improves upon it, and serves as a model for the future.”


Christine McEntee
CEO & Executive Director, AGU

Rendering of the proposed view from intersection of Florida Avenue and 20th Street.

Why Net Zero?

Climate change is a real issue facing humanity. Human-caused increases in greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed global average surface warming of roughly 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 140 years. Impacts harmful to society, including increased extremes of heat, precipitation, and coastal high water, are currently being experienced and are projected to increase. Actions that could diminish these threats, and many others posed by climate change to society and ecosystems, include substantial emissions cuts to reduce the magnitude of climate change, as well as preparing for changes that are now unavoidable.

Traditional buildings account for approximately 40 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions entering our atmosphere. The renovation of the existing AGU headquarters provides an unprecedented opportunity to challenge ourselves to lead by example and demonstrate that we, and the Earth and space science community we represent, can be a model for sustainable design, reducing the carbon and environmental impacts of business operations in a cost-effective and replicable way.