Amazon HQ2: Virginia county’s top LEED certification nets high readership from Amazon site

By David Pendered

It’s not just tea leaves that folks are reading to guess where Amazon may locate its second headquarters. The folks at a news site in Arlington, Va. are tracking readers and found that a story about the county’s Platinum LEED certification drew high readership from a group believed to be Amazon insiders.

The Rosslyn skyline is located in Arlington County, Va., which was named a Platinum level community by the U.S. Green Building Council under its new LEED for Communities program. Credit:

The news site reported Tuesday that that many of the 6,000 readers of a story about Arlington’s recent LEED award came from what appears to be an internal site that discusses the search for a second headquarters.

The story that triggered further investigation by the arlnow staff appeared Feb. 16. The story reported that the third biggest story on its website in recent weeks ran under the headline: County Wins Top Environmental Award from U.S. Green Building Council.

Arlnow was founded in 2010 to serve Arlington, a place name for both the city and county that are adjacent to Washington. Arlington is located in Northern Virginia, an identified place on Amazon’s shortlist of 20 possible locales for its HQ2.

Here’s how the story in arlnow describes the staff’s response to this tidbit:

“EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Employees Are Very Interested in a Particular Article About Arlington

“Eagle-eyed readers of this site may have noticed something odd in this past Friday’s weekend discussion post: namely, the inclusion of an article from December among the most-viewed stories of the week.

“We also found that unusual, so we did a bit of digging. It turns out, there have been more than 6,000 views of the article, “County Wins Top Environmental Award from U.S. Green Building Council,” over the past week.

“Here’s an excerpt:

amazon hq2, map

Amazon included metro Atlanta on the short list its released of 20 metro areas it is considering for its second headquarters. File/Credit:

  • ‘Arlington County is the first community in the country to win a top award for its environmentally friendly policies from the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • ‘The county was named a Platinum level community by USGBC under its new LEED for Communities program.
  • ‘USGBC said the certification recognizes the county’s creation of a “sustainable and resilient urban environment that has long-proven success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing stormwater, ensuring economic prosperity and focusing on education, affordable housing, health and safety for residents and businesses.’

“So from where is all this newfound interest in Arlington County’s sustainability bonafides coming? From, it seems.

“The vast majority of the traffic to the page over the past week that can be tracked came from what appears to be an internal page devoted to its HQ2 search. Arlington, of course, is in the running as one of the potential landing spots for the company’s second headquarters.

“No other page on has a similar level of traffic coming from Amazon.

Last week a noted NYU professor who has written about the company opined that New York City and the D.C. area are among the most likely finalists for HQ2, due to a combination of being destinations for talented workers and being places that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos likes to frequent.”

The story elicited 93 comments.

Amazon, arlnow

The news site has determined the high readership of a story about the county’s award for sustainability came largely from an internal site operates about its process for choosing a site for a second headquarters. Credit:

There is the expected share of boosters and critics. There also is a smattering of comment from folks who speak directly to Amazon as a corporation.

Such as this comment on from Michael:

  • “<– Former long term Amazonian who now lives in Arlington.
  • “I wouldn’t read too much into this. Amazon would have an intranet site set up to pitch the idea to their current employees – they’ll need a core group of people to immediately relocate to HQ2 to get it operating quickly and “install” the Amazon culture for all the new regional hires. It’s not too early to start selling all the potential landing spots so you have folks lined up when you need them to move their lives/families.
  • “So, while this reporting is certainly interesting (thanks to ArlNow for sharing!) it don’t think it has anything to do with the actual decision maker – Jeff.”

And from Herezathought:

  • “I just posted a note on that page to the Amazon employees. Who knows, maybe they will write back if they want to hear from the ARLNow Commentariat.”

And from Dave Schultz:

  • “Hard to imagine that Bezos would choose a place with the level of unfunded pension liability which New York has:…. Why put a $5 billion asset into DeBlasio’s tax cross hairs? Now, if we just build an el on Columbia Pike and continue it on out into Annandale, we will have it sewn up!?


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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