The News: Another Houston Tenant Casts Vote For Energy Efficiency

Serving a large energy sector, Houston’s office market enjoyed a mostly positive 2008. But as oil prices declined in the second half of the year, many tenants in the market have put their expansion plans on hold and are adapting a largely wait-and-see posture. Still, a headlining lease closed as 2009 began.Hess Corp. signed a long-term lease to occupy the entire 844,800-square-foot Discovery Tower under construction in Downtown Houston. Many oil and gas companies, eager to demonstrate their commitment to energy efficiency, have made green office space a priority, and this megalease fits the trend: Discovery Tower is slated to be LEED gold certified, and it sits next to Discovery Green, a $122 million, 12-acre park.Houston’s office tenants are exhibiting a greater degree of caution, said Aaron Thielhorn, principal of office development for the Houston office of Trammell Crow Co., which is developing the building and is a partner with Principal Real Estate Investors on the project. “Houston is not immune to what is happening in the overall economy,” he said.Trammell Crow conducted a significant amount of research to determine what Houston’s tenants would find attractive in a new office, from size and shape of floorplates to number of elevators, Thielhorn said. Hess was also able to customize floorplates and ceiling heights. Construction on what will become Hess Tower began in March and is scheduled to be completed in 2010. Hess plans to take full occupancy in 2011.