San Francisco-based AMB Property Corp. broke ground on a number of different levels recently. The start of the first building in its 3.3-million-sf AMB Morgan Business Park in Savannah marks the REIT’s entry into that city. But the 347,000-sf spec distribution facility that kicks off the park is also being heralded as the first LEED-certified spec industrial asset in the Southeast and, as reported at the time of the ground-breaking, the asset will in many ways serve as a prototype for all future development. In fact, Eugene Reilly, AMB’s Boston-based president of the Americas, told in the days after the event that no buildings will roll off the AMB line without LEED standards applied to it, and all retenanting retrofits are being upgraded to LEED specs. That’s a tall order, considering that AMB has 3,000 acres of roof–some 150 million sf of space–in 14 countries. But sustainability is no recent thought for AMB, says Reilly, who sat down with for the one in-depth interview he granted on what green means to the firm. Talk a little about AMB’s history with sustainability.

Reilly: AMB’s headquarters is a 1920s-era pier building right off the Embarcadero. In the late ’90s we began entitling and planning its redevelopment into office space. LEED standards didn’t exist, but it was a very green building for its time. We’re working now to get the building certified. Just to give you a sense of the systems we incorporated, we optimized natural light by using existing windows and cutting in new ones, a big component of certification. We have a lot of ambient ventilation and a water-source building-heat exchange system that uses bay water for HVAC. There’s also high-efficiency lighting and an energy-management system. Again, these things were well ahead of their time.

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