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Plantation's first 'green' commercial building opens soon

Sun-Sentinel - 8/24/2008 12:00:00 AM
by David A. Schwartz

When the renovation of the seven-story office building on the old Fashion Mall site is completed at the end of the year, the building will become the first in the $1 billion 321 North mixed-use project and Plantation's first "green" commercial building. And the structure is likely to be one of only a handful of eco-friendly buildings in Broward County.

The South Regional Library in Pembroke Pines is the only building in the county to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council.

"There's actually quite a few [green buildings] in Broward County that are being developed," said Rob Hink, president of the council's South Florida chapter and a principal in Spinnaker Group Inc. The Weston engineering firm advises clients on the development and design of LEED-certified buildings.

The Green Building Council's Florida registered project list shows 26 green projects in Broward County, including Corporate Centre II in Sunrise, Fire Station 80 in Coral Springs and JM Lexus Paint and Body, and several buildings in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale.

Projects receive LEED credits for meeting specific criteria in categories, such as sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy conservation, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process. The number of credits accumulated determines whether a project receives a certified, silver, gold or platinum LEED rating.

The 321 North office building expects to get a silver LEED rating for its "core and shell" renovation, said architect Jonathan Cardello, whose firm, Add Inc. in Miami, did the design work.

Cardello said the project would receive LEED credits for reusing the building, replacing the air conditioning with a CFC-free, energy-efficient system, installing a light-color roof and adding shading around the building.

He said tenants would be required to construct office space to a "green-tenant standard," using regional materials, carpets and paints with low-volatile organic compound content, and energy-saving features such as natural light and devices that automatically turn off lights when no one is in a room.

Building to a LEED standard costs an additional 1 to 3 percent more than standard construction but provides a healthier and more energy-efficient building, Cardello said.

"The payback is immediate to the tenant," he said. These benefits include healthier employees and lower utility bills.

Lawrence Leeds, Plantation's director of planning, zoning and economic development, said the city encourages green sites that limit the amount of pavement and drainage for a more attractive project and suggests developers build green.

But Plantation does not yet have a so-called "green ordinance." Leeds said such ordinances typically encourage green development by using greater density as an incentive. That could possibly change in 2009, he said.