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Environmental concerns way heavy on developers.

Environmental concerns way heavy on developers

If the 1990's will truly be remembered as the Decade of the Environment, the real estate industry will be a major player in the healing process.

By no means blind to the issue in the 1980's, the industry has in recent years begun to show a sustained commitment to pooling its knowledge and resources in the search for solutions both global and local.

The result: an increasingly active role is now taken in developing the systems that foster environmentally sound operation of residential and commercial properties.

London & Leeds, the United States real estate subsidiary of the Ladbroke Group PLC, set out years ago to become a private-sector leader on issues of environmental awareness and protection.

Even a single building can work to improve or impair the environment. Multiply that by all the commercial properties in existence, and the potential effect is enormous.

But it is just as important to remember that to each individual tenant, their building is the environment, at least for some 40 to 60 hours a week.

That's why our development and management teams place great emphasis on environmental impact and potential health risks, not just economic feasibility, aesthetics and code compliance. Our buildings have to be healthier for people as well as for Mother Nature.

But with so many issues to be considered and regulations to be met, where do we begin? We've found that simply listening is a good place to start. We listened to our own professionals, of course, and to concerned environmental experts and groups.

But it was our tenants who perhaps shed the most light on the subject. They have the biggest stake in a work setting that is not just attractive but energy-efficient, cost-effective and environmentally safe. Their concerns became ours, and we proceeded to address the issues.

The process begins with site selection, which has traditionally examined land-site survey, infrastructure, financial feasibility and market conditions. That process now takes into account such factors as wetland delineation, water-resource consultation, hazardous waste evaluation and underground tank consultation.

We believe an office environment is only as beautiful as its natural surroundings. That's why we preserve and enrich the beautiful sites we select, exceeding local greenspace regulations by adding an abundance of trees, gardens and landscaped courtyards.

Our tenants are smart, and they expect their buildings to be smart as well. That's why the selection of materials and systems poses great challenges. By installing state-of-the-art management systems in our buildings we provide costefficient and energy-effective HVAC control.

For example, the System 600 recently employed at one of our Virginia facilities conserves energy by setting room temperature based on outdoor temperature and humidity readings, and automatically activates the HVAC system based on actual tenant use.

By improving central building control these advances insure tenants' comfort while conserving energy -- a comforting thought in an energy-conscious era.

Another major concern in designing our buildings is improving indoor air quality, through the efficient introduction of increased fresh air.

At our property in Ballston, Virginia, we deployed a system pumping 100 percent outside air into a handling room where it is filtered, then cooled or heated and sent to individual floor units. At another property we introduced large systems with outside-air economizer pumps. Outside air enters central shafts for cooling or heating and is distributed throughout the building. Air quality is improved, tenant comfort and safety is enhanced, and energy costs are cut.

Landscaping, so important in marketing a development, is carefully handled to prevent the environmental hazards of insecticides and poorly regulated irrigation. Our gardeners use only organic fertilizers and weed by hand. Insect contamination is solved through natural controls. We've enhanced our building lobbies and public areas with an abundance of plantings, which purify the air while they brighten the setting.

Many other details go into the creation of a safe and energy-conscious work environment at London & Leeds sites:

* Water conservation and quality get special attention. Usage is monitored and preventive maintenance against leakage and pollutants is part of each Building Engineer's daily checklist. Our restrooms feature an array of water-saving devices, such as push-button and aerated faucets. * Our chemical treatment systems for cooling towers as well as chilled water loops are monitored by nationally recognized water-treatment specialists. Droplet samples from HVAC and water distribution equipment are routinely analyzed at local laboratories. * Radon testing is periodically conducted at all properties with parking facilities, to insure levels well below federally allowed standards. Safeguards such as sophisticated exhaust and ventilation systems at our garage sites help maintain these clean readings. * Recycled materials are used whenever possible; the gypsum wallboard used in tenant buildouts is made from recycled paper, for example. All restrooms are stocked with recycled paper products and biodegradable trash bags. Even building newsletters and stationery are printed on recycled stock. * Because the job has only just begun when a development is completed, maintenance staff are well trained to operate and service all systems. After-hours cources and regular meetings stress the team concept in fulfilling the needs of our tenants and the environment.

Tenants may not always notice. But it's this attention to detail that makes us confident our buildings are designed and constructed to go well into the 21st century and meet any governmental guidelines with only minor modification.

As mentioned before, our tenants were invaluable in identifying many of the environmental concerns we bear in mind. And not surprisingly, they have been anxious to help implement preventive and cost-saving measures. Tenants work side-by-side with management to run on-site collection centers for recycling office trash, and willingly separate dining room refuse for recycling.

Robert A. Drewes, CPM Senior Vice President Leasing/Management London & Leeds Development Corporation
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Energy & Conservation Supplement
Author:Drewes, Robert A.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 18, 1991
Words:945
Previous Article:Reducing management costs by recycling.
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