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Coveted Platinum for Building

Citadel Environmental Services’ $2.5 million building in Glendale recently became the first privately held property in the city to achieve the highest certification under the LEED green building rating system. The environmental consulting firm was notified Dec.1 that it had been granted LEED Platinum ranking, becoming one of only ten spaces in the state of California and one of 89 nationally to achieve Platinum for the construction and design of commercial interiors. Overall, there are 60 LEED Platinum certified spaces in the state, and a total of 370 in the U.S. In Los Angeles there are three LEED Platinum properties including the Audubon Center at Debs Park, the Los Angeles Showroom of design firm Herman Miller and the Silver Lake Library. Citadel Environmental is the second LEED project to receive Platinum certification in the Tri-City area of Glendale, Pasadena & Burbank, after Shangri-La Construction’s Hangar 25 in Burbank. “We set out to prove that you could build a highly sustainable building at traditional construction cost and not only were we able to do that, we were able to do that at the highest level of LEED Platinum,” said CEO Loren Witkin, whose building was completely remodeled and refurbished with waterless urinals, solar panels and a host of environmentally friendly materials and features including glass walls, and recycled office furniture. The certification places the firm at the forefront of a movement towards environmentally conscious design and construction, which has quickly gained traction since LEED was introduced to the market in 2001. “We’ve continued to see a steady uptick in the market,” said Erin Emery. Marketing & Communications Account Manager for the U.S. Green Building Council. “We’re certifying over one million square feet of space per day around the world, so we’re very confident this trend will continue to grow.” The total footprint of commercial projects certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System surpassed one billion square feet this November, and another six billion square feet of projects are currently working toward LEED certification around the world. In Los Angeles there are about 100 LEED Certified Properties. As of December 3 there were eight LEED certified spaces in Burbank and 11certified spaces in Glendale, according to the USGBC. Greening Glendale Local utility companies such as Glendale Water & Power have helped fuel momentum by offering incentive programs for green development. Since Glendale Water & Power launched its Green Building Program in 2008, the utility has seen ten properties work their way through the pipeline and achieve LEED certification, said Hector Gutierrez, who oversees all public benefits programs at GWP, including the Green Building Program. The utility company has paid a total of $120,000 in incentives to those developers so far. Those incentives, coupled with state and federal rebates make green development financially viable, said Witkin. “We spent $1.7 million to purchase the building and then spent approximately $800,000 in tenant improvement costs,” he said. “We got back between $250,000 – $300,000 in rebates from the local utility company and the state and federal governments.” Glendale Water & Power reimburses up to $30,000 of the cost of the LEED certification, Gutierrez explained, and also provides reimbursements for such things as technical assistance and support. The utility also offers solar energy installation incentives for residential and commercial facilities. Beyond the green accolades, the value of achieving LEED standards reflects in lower operating costs, better employee retention, better employee morale and increased productivity, said Witkin. The energy savings alone associated with LEED projects can be the powerful metric that makes green development good for business, he added. Additionally, having a LEED certified office building is another point of differentiation from the competition for Citadel. “By having gone through the LEED process first hand the company is better qualified to dispense advice on sustainable development,” Witkin said. Construction slump In addition to the ten clients who received reimbursements from Glendale Water and Power this year, Gutierrez said as of December 21, there were no additional companies working with the utility in an effort to achieve LEED ranking and take advantage of the incentives. Most if not all of the ten properties who received their certification this year began the LEED certification process more than two years ago, he said. “I don’t foresee another ten certifications coming our way in the next year,” he said. “Because of the economy and the costs associated with the LEED certification process, we may see only a few properties trickle in over the next year.” However, when the economy recovers and construction picks up again, Gutierrez expects many developers will be once again taking advantage of the incentives and building green. Witkin, for one, hopes to purchase a property in Orange County in 2011 and once again convert the structure into a green building. The property would house the company’s offices in the region, which are currently operating in a leased space. Glendale LEED Certified Properties Platinum Citadel Environmental Services 1725 Victory Boulevard Gold 1613 E. Glenoaks Blvd. 207 Goode Avenue 400 N. Brand Blvd. 450 N. Brand Blvd. 500 N. Brand Blvd. 550 N. Brand Blvd. 505 N. Brand Blvd.

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