Healthiest Building in the US?
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|What's it feel like to develop the nation's biggest net-zero and carbon-neutral commercial office building? Probably the way Hines senior managing director Paul Twardowski (right) feels standing atop this crane at La Jolla Commons.|
|The 13-story, 415k SF building, delivering mid-2014, is already fully leased to LPL Financial. Paul tells us Hines? goal was to create a commercially viable building and then make it net zero. ?This is really the latest step? on a long path throughout the firm's more than 50-year history, says Paul (standing with assistant construction manager Jason Hunking). Even before the green building trend, the company has engaged in R&D to improve energy efficiency, ?testing new technologies in top-quality buildings.? The building is the second of two on this campus. The first, completed in 2008, was the first of its kind in SoCal to be certified LEED-CS Gold.|
|LPL Financial at La Jolla Commons will be owned by a partnership of Hines and institutional investors advised by JP Morgan Asset Management. Using carbon-neutral biogas and on-site fuel cells, it will generate enough electricity to power 1,000 San Diego homes (or more, depending on how many people turn off their 50-inch plasmas mid-Chargers game.) The system's payback is about five years; over the course of LPL's 15-year lease, its utility savings will be several million dollars. According to Paul, the net-zero project was contemplated before the LPL deal. During negotiations, the tenant asked about some of the technologies that Hines already was evaluating, such as an under-floor air system, so it was a ?meeting of the minds? as well as great timing.|
|Hines financed the debt earlier this year with Wells Fargo and some of the lender's partners, even before the contracts to achieve net-zero were formalized. Paul says Hines will next raise the bar—achieving net zero at an existing building in an urban environment in a more challenging weather environment. Paul, his wife, and two daughters live in North County San Diego, where he likes to go surfing, ski, mountain bike, and hike. ?We're happy to be enjoying the environment and protecting the environment.?|