Houston Marks a Green Milestone

As green development continues to thrive across the country, Houston’s First City Tower has earned LEED Gold certification for an existing building from the U.S. Green Building Council, marking a milestone for sustainable development in the market. “It’s the first building in Houston to receive LEED Gold under the existing buildings rating system. The other three LEED-EB projects in Houston have earned silver or certified statuses,” Marie Coleman, USGBC communications coordinator, told CPN. “LEED for existing buildings is our second most commonly used rating system behind LEED for new construction.” Located at 1001 Fannin St. in Houston’s Central Business District, the tower (pictured) is also the first existing building in Texas to earn the Gold designation. As of February, there were 28 LEED-certified buildings in the Houston area and hundreds of LEED projects registered in the Greater Houston Area. The drive to earn LEED certification was a “combination of our ownership’s interest in green objectives while reducing energy usage as well as hearing from several tenants when renegotiating leases over the past few years. They said it is important to them, so it was important to us,” Dave Johnson, an associate director of asset services at CBRE and general manager at First City Tower, told CPN. “For the last eight or nine years, we’ve been going through a lot of improvements to the building and the systems of the building,” Johnson said. “We switched to a DVC control, improved the cooling tower among other things. All of those efforts were to save money and improve the cost efficiency of the building, so it was an easy step to do the other things for the LEED certification.” Adding services like recycling and controlled green cleaning were among additional efforts, he said. The biggest challenge was the requirement of man-hours to document the process, he added. First City Tower is a 49-story high-rise with more than 1 million square feet of space. The Class A building that occupies a city block bounded by Fannin, McKinney, San Jacinto and Lamar Streets in Houston’s CBD. The building was completed in 1981 and in 2005 underwent a $15-million renovation that included upgrades to the lobby, elevators, tunnels and the street level plaza areas. In 2007 the building won the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International The Office Building of the Year (TOBY) Award in the renovated building category and is an ENERGY STAR qualified building. The tower is managed by the Houston office of CB Richard Ellis Inc. and owned by FC Tower Property Partners L.P., an affiliate of JMB Realty Corp., a Chicago-based property owner and developer operating in select markets across the country.First City Tower attained the desired number of points to earn LEED Gold for existing buildings by using the resources developed and provided by the CBRE Green Knight program. Johnson also recently received the LEED professional accreditation. Johnson, colleagues Jeff Greensage , Donna Will and Chief Building Engineer Ray Bailey, applied the shared knowledge of the Green Knight program to transform the building to a sustainable facility operation.