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May 29, 2008

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That was the name of our luncheon panel before 130 guests the other day at Il Mulino, focusing on the idea that, sure, everyone talks LEED for new buildings, but what do you do about the bulk of the office stock that's old? We were delighted to present the panel with Transwestern, whose mantra is that retrofitting can pay for itself via lower operating expenses and better tenant retention, even apart from recognizing "it's the right thing to do."  To get a wide range of views, they helped us assemble experts representing professional services, tenants, investors, and architects.  


Indeed, the panelists were such rock stars, we needed the protective railing above to restrain the adoring crowd from rushing the stage: Discovery senior facilities director Larry Laque, Transwestern property management SVP Glen Fernald, TIAA-CREF senior asset manager Nick Stolatis, and Perkins & Will DC office head Rusty Meadows. Glen said Transwestern audited a client's portfolio of 65 buildings and found they had an average age of 31 years, yet estimated the cost of acquiring LEED certification as only 25 cents/SF with a payback period of less than three years. Rusty emphasized that tenants drive the product in any market, just like Nike and Gap respond to customers. He said existing buildings consume 40% of the nation's electricity and that through better ops and maintenance, energy consumption in them can be reduced 40%, not even including improved employee productivity, learning in schools, and reduced recovery times in hospitals. Larry said there are lots of simple ways to save energy, like shutting off lights in unoccupied offices on Saturdays and replacing high-intensity bulbs in garages with CFLs. Nick said TIAA has used Energy Star to benchmark its entire office portfolio of 43 M SF (including Franklin Square and 1900 K here) with a goal of reducing energy intensity by 10% over two years.    


From left, Transwestern regional head Tom Nordlinger, Ray Hite (who not only runs leasing in Maryland, but is a former DeMatha hoops star who played for Dean Smith at UNC!), investor services guru Dave Popp, FOX Architects' Mark Strandquist, TW Northern Va leasing experts  Matt Bundy and Josh Masi (who just got the PTO 168k SF at Randolph Square in Shirlington), and RREEF's Erin Crum and Jeff Spruill (major international investors in office and industrial).  Transwestern truly walks the walk: it's partnering with USGBC to get LEED cert on over 13M SF of new and existing commercial space, get 51 of its existing buildings "LEED-EB" status, and in the last 10 years has reduced operating costs across its managed portfolio by 20%.   


Balfour Beatty's Ashley McCarron, Bob Schrider, Ali Carney, Dave Birtwistle and Karen Hintz.  Balfour's construction of Louis Dreyfus' 1101 New York Ave. won LEED Gold last month, and 40% of their projects (3M SF out of the DC office) have the intent of pursuing LEED, like renovations (with Clark) of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the Navy and the conversion of Crystal Plaza II in Crystal City from office to residential.    


GVA Advantis' Nick Katz, Perkins + Will's Gretchen Leigh and Steve Manlove, and Transwestern's Jeff Gross. Steve's designing a 65 story mixed-use building in Dubai and Jeff is headed on a Scandinavian excursion next month, with Sweden, Norway and Denmark on the itinerary. Finland must feel left out.  P&W is committed to getting all its designers LEED accredited, and new employees have to obtain the status within a year. Hey, they feel a special responsibility: They designed the US Green Building Council interior in DC-which won platinum status!



We all know the great Brasserie Beck. Ever looked above it?  That's JBG's 1101 K Street. It delivered in Oct '06, has FTI Consulting in it for 90k of its 311K SF, and now has Cassidy & Pinkard as its new broker team. Led by Phillip Thomas (second from right) and Richard Tonner (left), the team also includes Melissa Bennett and Kimball Wood, here with JBG's Brian Fitzgerald and Andrea Lawhon. The building is 10 stories with 16 corner offices per floor. Doug Carter of Davis Carter Scott designed it, Turner Construction was contractor.


Cassidy's innovation has been to create a "tour floor" instead of just showing concrete shells (which tenants then build out). They've put in a reception area with fancy carpeting, lighting, and flat screens, then placed big yellow arrows elsewhere on the floor saying things like "Wave to Your Neighbors!" (listing tenants at adjoining buildings), pointing out the Metro, or recreating a table and chair setting from Beck. Here Phillip shows us the 9' floor to ceiling windows but also wants to prove he's really 6'2". (Do shoes count?) He says space goes for the upper 30s to low 40s triple net.


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