SAN JOSE, CA-“Today, the definition of sustainability isbecoming one of the most compelling topics in real estate ownershipand development,” according to Legacy Partners Commercial.GlobeSt.com recently sat down with Steve Dunn and Derrick How ofLegacy Partners Commercial to discuss sustainability, design andthe development of America Center.

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Dolce: Let’s start by discussing sustainability andwhat that means for Legacy Partners.

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Dunn: Today, the definition ofsustainability is becoming one of the most compelling topics inreal estate ownership and development. The goals of developmenthave shifted from creating landmarks of iconic status built astimeless monuments, to the objectives of resource conservation,operational efficiency, quality of life and the realities of achanging global environment. For Legacy Partners, this new paradigmhas created a compelling desire to adopt a best practices approachthat embraces this focus on long-term efficiency, both to satisfythe desire of the tenant-customer to operate in a green andsustainable manner, as well as to further the company’s commitmentto sustainable real estate practices.

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Dolce: I know that GlobeSt.com recently reported on Legacy’s427,000-square-foot America Center attaining LEED Gold. Talk to mea bit about the design and development of thatproject.

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How: The design and development ofAmerica Center, an environmentally sophisticated office campus inNorthern California’s Silicon Valley with LEED Gold certification,is one example of Legacy Partners’ adoption of green andsustainable best practices. This landmark project converted aformer landfill site to a viable, safe and productive asset thatnow offers both a social and economic benefit to the community. ForLegacy Partners, the development of America Center was grounded inthe desire to provide its customers with best of class product—anoffice campus that not only lived up to its expressed commitment tosustainability and advanced green design, but that also embracedand improved upon its natural environment.

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Dolce: What were some of the key elements in therestoration and development of America Center?

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Dunn: Land use for one. Brownfieldrestoration and subsequent redevelopment is an efficient way torecycle land within existing, mature, and urbanized communitieswithout encroaching on open space. The restoration and reuse offormer brownfield sites transforms communities by repurposingblighted sites into commercially viable, safe and environmentallysustainable locations without impacting undeveloped land for newconstruction. This process also serves businesses looking toincrease their commitment to sustainable operations by embracing agreener footprint and culture through site selection, whileenhancing the fabric of their community at the same time. Thesesites can also provide an opportunity to develop on centrallylocated land sites offering access to existing street and utilityinfrastructure. The development of America Center transformed acommanding hilltop site from its former use as a constructiondebris landfill into an environmentally-advanced office campuswithin an existing commercial corridor. Sustainability andenvironmental consciousness is attained by this type of efficientreuse of resources.

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How: Architectural style has long beenthe defining element of the structures that make up our cities andcommunities. How a building functions over generations is the goalof any well crafted development, from iconic status to efficientworkplace. Modern advancements in design technique and materialshave placed a new emphasis on resource consumption reduction,quality of life and flexibility of use. The design of AmericaCenter incorporates recycled materials, energy efficient glass andfixtures, and water conserving infrastructure, which qualified thecompleted buildings to achieve LEED Gold status. The adoption ofthese advances must still reflect the desire for companies tooperate within architecturally distinct properties, and so theywere combined with a creative structural aesthetic to develop bothbuilding identity as well as the operational efficiencies sodesired by progressive office space users.

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Dunn: Site integration: Forarchitecture to be truly sustainable within its community, theremust be an emphasis on how the structure and its site planinteracts with its surroundings. In the case of America Center,this meant embracing the site’s natural environment with anabundance of complementary open space. Legacy Partners created anadditional 30-acres of open space preserve with access to extensivejogging and biking trails, including the Bay Trail, the AlvisoSlough Trail, and the Mallard Slough Trail. All of this open spacehelps make America Center incredibly rich in wildlife, includingmore than 250 species of resident and migratory birds. It alsoencouraged the adoption of a mixed-use format that includes ahealth club and hotel property within the master plan and proximityto public transit options for regional commuters. America Centerwas also planned as a campus environment, where open space andenvironmental interaction could form a ‘workstyle’ focused onnurturing quality of life as well as efficient operations.

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How: Community benefit: This green,sustainable development project provides a lasting location thatwill serve a vital and viable use within its region for generationsto come. The development of commercial office space like AmericaCenter provides meaningful employment opportunities, an expandedbusiness tax base, and the restoration of natural environment andopen space. It creates a place within its local community thatprovides for the smart and continued growth of a region, whiledoing so with a priority placed on green and sustainable operationsand the efficient use of available resources.

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Dolce: To end, any closing thoughts onsustainability?

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Dunn: What was once thought to beimportant only as it related to property management’s operationalefficiencies or recycling programs, sustainability has nowpenetrated every stage of the development and leasing process andhelps redefine what an iconic development is. From site selection,restoration and redevelopment; to using local materials andsuppliers; to using efficient and eco-friendly materials andsystems; to operating efficiently; to incorporating the needs ofthe surrounding community; and meeting the sustainabilityrequirements of tenants; sustainability must now be addressed fromthe planning stages through to lease up.

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Dolce: Any closing thoughts on what you learned orwill take away from the America Center project?

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How: For Legacy Partners, AmericaCenter provided an opportunity to recognize that as a real estateowner, manager and developer, it is paramount to focus on thecommunities and corporate customers that are served by theproperties we deliver. The ultimate test for America Center and theworkplaces we will create as an industry is how we adopt therealities of reduced resource consumption through innovative andsustainable architecture and planning.

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of GlobeSt.com and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses GlobeSt.com, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for GlobeSt.com. Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, FashionLedge.com, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including MSNBC.com and Museums New York magazine.