The Vancouver Sun, September 26, 2011
Credit Suisse plans to construct 30-storey building to highest LEED standard
In the race to build multimillion-dollar commercial office buildings in downtown Vancouver, the prevailing mantra appears to be a new take on an old expression.
Green is good.
The latest manifestation of a sustainable office building is being proposed by global financial giant Credit Suisse, which is jumping in with a $200-million plan to build a structure that will vie to be among the world’s greenest.
Among other things, the building at the corner of Howe and Pender — to be completed by 2015 — is targeted to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum and ‘Living Building’ certifications with cutting-edge features such as on-site waste water treatment and reuse, energy consumption at a rate about half that of similar towers, a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, storm water retention and reuse, and solar thermal panels.
And tenants will be able to open their windows on warm summer days.
“It will be a very distinctive building,” Selwyn Dodd, partner with design group Iredale Group Architecture, said in an interview. “This won’t be your cookie-cutter Vancouver office tower.”
Credit Suisse, through one of its real estate funds, has secured the 1929 Stock Exchange building, along with an adjacent property on Pender, and is proposing to build the 30-storey, 400,000-square-foot tower incorporating the heritage stock exchange building.
The investment firm is now unveiling plans for its tower, the latest in a growing number of office projects in downtown Vancouver that are aiming for the LEED rating system, a third-party certification and internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. Platinum is the highest rating.
The planned tower is Credit Suisse’s first B.C. investment and would be the tallest in the company’s real estate inventory of 260 buildings.
There is an open house today at the Terminal City Club, 837 West Hastings, and the group will apply for rezoning within two weeks.
Although constructing a LEED Platinum building will increase construction costs by 10 to 15 per cent, Herbert Meier, director of real estate asset management for Credit Suisse, said building green reduces operating costs and attracts clients seeking out sustainable offices.
“It’s not the highest building. It’s not on the waterfront. But it’s the best package.
“We really believe green buildings are the most sustainable investment.”
Franz Gehriger, president of minority investor Swissreal Investments Ltd., said his group will utilize local materials from local contractors as much as possible.
“There’s a light manufacturing company in Langley that makes advanced [energy-efficient] LED lights. We’re talking with them about making the whole building LED.”
Gehriger added: “We believe this is a great way for Credit Suisse’s real estate fund to expand into Vancouver, the greenest city in Canada.”
Others are also aiming for LEED Gold or Platinum standards.
Last month, the British Columbia Investment Management Corp launched its 24-storey, 745 Thurlow St. office tower, making it the second of three other anticipated major office projects in downtown Vancouver to jump onto a construction timeline.
That project — scheduled for completion in 2015 — follows Oxford Properties’ announcement that committed its pension-fund sponsor to build 1021 West Hastings, a 25-storey tower to be built by 2014.
Another building is the 22-storey, 500,000-square-foot office tower that is part of Telus Corp.’s $750-million redevelopment of the entire city block bounded by Robson, Georgia, Seymour and Richards streets, which the company and developer Westbank Projects aim to complete in 2015.