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PHOENIX-After years of working on environmental and sustainability issues, Vestar Development Co. is formally going green with its retail developments. The just-launched GreenStar initiative will turn the under-construction 900,000-sf Oro Valley Marketplace and one-million-sf Technology Marketplace, which is in planning stages, into the poster children for the program.

Vestar’s goal is to secure LEED certification for all new retail developments. Ryan Desmond, project manager of new development for the Phoenix-based company, says Vestar has had a good introduction to sustainable building techniques with its 1.3-million-sf Tempe Marketplace at 21001 N. Tatum Blvd. in Tempe, which was built on what was once a brownfield site.

Oro Valley Marketplace, rising at Tangerine and Oracles roads in Oro Valley, also is being built in such a way to recreate an ecosystem that was once destroyed, with the focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and waste. The 77-acre project is scheduled to open in the fall.

The next project on GreenStar’s drawing board is Technology Marketplace, which is being planned for Interstate 10 and Kolb Road in Tucson. Desmond says a groundbreaking date on the power center hasn’t been determined nor has its cost.

“There will be a cost increase to us on this and other projects,” Desmond tells GlobeSt.com. “It’ll probably be a little higher on the front end then come down as we become more familiar with the techniques.” He estimates the cost increase to be 5% to 7%.

Despite the cost, Vestar’s goal is to implement sustainable techniques in all projects going forward. Desmond explains that “going green” encompasses a large list: recycling construction waste, using environmentally friendly material, studying indoor air quality and even preferred parking for hybrid cars. “We’ll look to use as many of those as we can in our future projects,” he says.

Although the company faces a learning curve and higher costs with the GreenStar program, Desmond believes that overall it’s good for the company and the entities with which it deals. “We think we’ll see a number of benefits by the end-consumer and user,” he says. “We also think there’ll be a lot of benefits as they relate to the municipalities we work with, the tenants involved with the project and the joint venture partners we work with.”

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