DOWNTOWN — Four properties this year were the first in Glendale to be certified by the nation’s leading evaluator of environmentally sustainable development, a shift utility officials said could herald the turning of a green leaf for the city.
The properties include a 22-story office tower at 500 N. Brand Blvd. that received gold certification, according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards.
While the council lists one Glendale development on its website of certified properties, it has notified city officials that buildings at 300, 400 and 450 N. Brand Blvd. have also received LEED certifications, said Ned Bassin, Glendale Water & Power’s assistant general manager of customer and support services.
The city’s first batch of LEED-certified properties will help Glendale reduce its need for natural resources and improve its image as a home for sustainable business, Bassin said.
“Buildings that are built to LEED standards generally use less energy, less water and use recyclable materials, all of which is good for the environment,” he said.
The benefits could also pass on to ratepayers, who will not have to support infrastructure increases if existing buildings reduce their resource needs, Bassin said.
“To the extent that they’re able to keep their peak energy use down we do not need to build new power plants for that,” he said.
CB Richard Ellis, which owns and operates the 404,085-square-foot office tower at 500 N. Brand, earned the gold certification through a $160,000 investment in the facility, which is worth about $71 million, said Debra Greene, general manager of the site.
Glendale Water & Power covered about $40,000 of those costs with its incentives for improving environmental sustainability, Bassin said.
The relatively small expenditure needed for CB Richard Ellis to bring the building up to gold standards was attributed to improved plumbing through low-flow toilets and water-conserving, hands-free faucets, Greene said.
Those changes will save about 2.1 million gallons of water annually, she said.
The firm also installed energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning, implemented more green cleaning and pest management practices, improved recycling operations at the building and plans to send about 80% of all materials gutted from the property for construction to recycling facilities, Greene said.
The company is also in the process of changing its outdoor landscaping to native plants and computerizing its irrigation system, which should cut the watering requirements for the set of outdoor planters by 55%, she said.
“We think the payback for this is going to be with our tenants,” Greene said. “We think a lot of our tenants do think this is an important step to take.”
While the building changes not only helped the company earn the certification, they could also put it in a position to be more competitive in the commercial real estate market, she said.
The property has a vacancy rate of 25%, much higher than the city’s rate of about 19%, which has raised concerns about the potential for trouble in a market of shrinking demand and increasing supply as companies put off expansion or downsize to save money, she said.
LEED-certified buildings could attract potential tenants making a lease decision, said Lance Williams, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Los Angeles chapter. Certifications will also raise property profiles, he said.
“That’s the No. 1 thing that is an advantage,” Williams said. “It adds value because it’s going to be a money-saving building in the long term.”