New OV projects take the 'leed'
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Oro Valley's marketplace, which will be home to a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Best Buy and a Century Movie Theater, is expected to open in September of this year.

In Oro Valley, the owners of two large construction projects have opted for the strict Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) building standards.

Vestar Development’s Oro Valley Marketplace intends to use earth-conscious features in its 115-acre shopping center at the corner of Oracle and Tangerine roads.

The pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis, whose new office is under construction in Rancho Vistoso, plans to meet LEED standards when construction is complete.

Sanofi-Aventis’ new Oro Valley complex will incorporate a list of energy-and resource-stingy technologies.

As part of a company-wide directive to use so-called green building technologies, Sanofi-Aventis initiated 77 health and safety standards used in company building projects.

In Oro Valley, the company plans to maximize water conservation through the use of low-use faucets, waterless urinals and other water-saving plumbing fixtures.

The high-tech new structure will also have the capacity to capture and store rainwater and condensation produced by air handlers. Representatives with the company say the new laboratory can treat and recycle water.

“We’re looking at an at least 20-percent reduction in water use,” said Kim Stone, senior manager for health, safety and environment at the company’s Oro Valley offices.

Drought-tolerant native plant species will be used in the new facility’s landscape design.

Stone said the new building’s cisterns would have the capacity to pump the captured water out for irrigation. The company also plans to simply redirect rainwater and runoff to irrigate the vegetation around the site.

Heating and cooling systems at the new building will also reduce the company’s impact on resources. An energy-efficient HVAC system can cut energy costs by as much as 15 percent annually.

Incorporated with the cooling system are plans to use chilled beam technology. In such a system, cold air is pumped through pipelines in the building that radiate cool air.

“It’s like a reverse radiator,” Stone said.

The HVAC system would also have the capacity to collect and reuse condensation, further reducing water consumption.

All those earth-friendly features don’t come on the cheap, though. Stone said the company anticipates the technologies will make up 10 percent of the $60 million construction costs.

Beneath a fairly typical façade at Oro Valley Marketplace, the development hides some features extraordinary for a shopping center.

“We’re doing something that’s never been done in Oro Valley before,” said David Malin, Vestar project manager for the Oro Valley Marketplace.

The project, notable also for its sheer magnitude, will use features like rainwater harvesting, preservation of open space and tree and native plant salvaging.

“We’re going to be using that water and not the town’s water supply,” Malin said.

Company literature says the rainwater-harvesting project will have the capacity to reduce water consumption at the site by 80 million gallons over the next 20 years.

Additionally, Vestar representatives say the company is committed to LEED standards at its projects, including the one in Oro Valley. The company’s Web site credits itself as a trailblazer in meeting LEED standards as a retail center.

There currently are no retail-center guidelines for green building from the U.S. Green Building Council, but the organization, working with developers like Vestar, has two retail rating systems in the works.

“Even though that’s not completed, we want to do whatever we can,” Malin said.

Like the Sanofi-Aventis project, incorporating earth-conscious design and other features into Oro Valley Marketplace doesn’t come cheap. Malin said the technologies would likely comprise 4 to 8 percent of the shopping center’s $130 million construction costs.

Currently, green building features are voluntary, but with the growing interest in environmentally friendly design and the desire to expend fewer natural resources, more companies across the country have started going green.

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