Sustainability in the commercial real estate sector began to take off around 2005 and was initially confined to office buildings because cost premiums were much higher. Today, industrial and warehouse development is much more cost-sensitive, said Bob Abberger, head of Trammell Crow’s sustainability practice.
The recession hit as green warehouse development was taking hold. Now, it’s back. Over the previous four-year period, Trammell Crow developed some 20 million square feet of green warehouse space. It currently has 6.2 million square feet under development.
Not all developers seek LEED certification because of high costs in seeking certification, but they are incorporating most if not all LEED design elements in virtually all big-box warehouses and many smaller buildings under construction.
Trammell Crow, the commercial development subsidiary of CB Richard Ellis, develops facilities for institutional investors who are building portfolios of properties for the long term. For these investors, having best-in-class buildings that demonstrably outperform the competition through optimized energy performance is essential.
One of the chief reasons green warehouse development has taken off is that costs have plummeted for a wide range of materials and services, including reflective roofs, insulation and recycling.
Developers used to have to pay a huge premium for recycled construction materials and for dealing with construction waste. Now, waste is commonly separated and dealt with appropriately on-site and at the municipal level.
Features of green warehouses include highly reflective roofs, energy-efficient lighting and low-flow water systems. Parking lots are designed to capture water runoff and provide for settling, leaving behind the antiquated model of massive asphalt truck lots and drain ditches.
Skylights for natural lighting, common in new office buildings, are now a feature of newly built Class A warehouses. “Natural lighting can provide significant energy efficiency and reduction,” Abberger said. “We’ve been able to prove over time that the payback is there.”
Trammell Crow, in a joint venture with Clarion Partners, is developing a 1.7 million-square-foot logistics center in Moreno Valley, Calif. The project, which is being developed in two phases, is a prime example of a best-in-class green warehouse for which Trammell Crow will seek LEED Silver certification.
The first phase is a 1.25 million-square-foot building with cross-dock configuration, 32-foot minimum clear height, early-suppression fire protection and 200-foot-plus all-concrete truck courts.
Sustainable features of the project include 100 percent nonpotable water for landscaping, water-efficient fixtures for an overall water reduction benchmark of 35 percent and optimized features to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent.
The facilities will feature multiple skylights to reduce lighting demand and green power offsets through renewable energy credits. An all-concrete truck court will be built to reduce heat. At least 75 percent of waste will be recycled. Regionally sourced construction materials such as steel, rebar and concrete will contain 20 percent recycled content. Adhesives, paints, flooring, and composite woods will have low VOC-emitting (volatile organic compound) properties.
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