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SAN FRANCISCO-With few transactions to speak of these days, Hines, Grosvenor and TMG Partners are boasting about their local efforts to minimize their developments’ impact on the environment.TMG Partners, one of the Bay Area’s largest mixed-use developers, earlier this month received the first national LEED-Platinum pre-certification under the US Green Building Council’s new rating program for neighborhood developments, which also includes input and review from the Congress of New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The USGBC gave its highest certification for the Emeryville Marketplace redevelopment, which is jointly owned by TMG and Rockwood Capital.

Jeffrey Heller of Heller Manus Architects, which designed the project, says the project transformed the center “from a 1980s suburban, car-oriented commercial development with a sea of parking, to a fully mixed-use, transit- and pedestrian-focused infill plan.”

The new mixed-use development includes up to one million sf of office, housing and retail spaces of mixed building types, to be built over the next 25 years. The project has approval for 670 units of housing with a mix of rental, sale and 15% to 20% of below-market-rate homes.

“The Bay Area is home to some of the largest commutes and worst traffic congestion in the nation and the Bay Area Council Housing Committee feels that the Emeryville Marketplace project is precisely the type of innovative and sustainable development that Emeryville and the rest of the Bay Area should be building,” says Matt Regan, director of housing at The Bay Area Council.”

Grosvenor, the international property company that represents the interests of the Grosvenor family headed by the Duke of Westminster, recently installed a solar photovoltaic system at Hamilton Marketplace, its new 90,000-sf grocery-anchored shopping center in Novato, CA, which sits in Marin County about one half hour north of San Francisco. Other environmentally friendly features at the shopping center include reflective “cool roofs,” which reduce the air conditioning loads to the project, and non-potable water pipes are in place for future use of “gray” water for irrigation. Finally, bio-swales provide on-site treatment for storm water runoff for the entire project.

The 45KV solar system by Novato-based SolarCraft Services provides electricity for parking lot lights, outdoor seating areas, and interior common spaces, as well as the decorative mosaic fountains in the outdoor plaza. The system is expected to cut the shopping center’s electricity costs by about $23,000 in its first year of operation, and even more each following year, assuming that the cost of electricity continues to rise. Some of these savings will be passed on to tenants who implement green measures in building out their stores’ interior spaces.

The system cost $300,000 to install but will cost Grosvenor about half of that total thanks to a federal tax credit, a California Solar Initiative Incentive, and rebates from the local utility, PG&E. A source at Grosvenor tells Globest.con that it will take approximately 10 years to amortize the cost of the project. Grosvenor’s in-house economic study found that despite the solar energy system’s high cost, it will provide significant economic and marketing benefits.

The solar system is the second of three SolarCraft has installed for Marin County retail projects. Previously, the company completed the installation for the largest solar powered grocery store in California, the Woodlands Market in Kentfield, which is owned by Don Santa. Next up for SolarCraft is a solar system for Walter Kieckhefer Co’s Pacheco Plaza Shopping Center.

Lastly, Hines completed 200,000 sf of energy efficiency retrofit projects at office and R&D properties in Northern California.Houston-based Hines hired Lime Energy to install new lighting fixtures among other things. Additional specifics weren’t immediately available but the result will be an estimated energy use reduction of 274,251 kilowatt-hours per year.

“These projects represent a very simple formula for us–energy efficiency retrofits equal reduced operating expenses and increased asset values,” says Clarke Miller, who manages 1.6 million sf in the Silicon Valley for Hines. “Businesses here in Silicon Valley are looking for work spaces that are more productive and ecologically intelligent.”

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