Certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building rating systems, better known as LEED, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council has been long the domain of single-tenant or owned commercial properties in the North Bay. Tens of thousands of dollars in consultant and staff time to document and verify materials, supplies and operations was an expense that had been difficult to line up with increased demand for multitenant properties. But that's changed, as Macerich and Seagate Properties have been pursuing LEED certification for hundreds of thousands of square feet of North Bay office and retail buildings.

Santa Monica-based regional-mall investment trust Macerich in late December received Gold-level certification under version 2.0 of the LEED Core and Shell rating system for the redevelopment of the Northgate mall in north San Rafael. That was one of the goals of the 18-month project to remake Marin County's largest enclosed shopping center into a 723,000-square-foot mall with open-air possibilities via movable glass walls. The mall reopened with dozens of new tenants in November 2009.

“We know environmental stewardship is important to the Marin County community, and our focus on energy-efficiency and sustainable practices made sense for the environment, for smart energy use and for cost-effective operations at Northgate, now and over the long term,” said Brianna Thornton, mall marketing manager.

More than 70 percent of the materials removed from the existing center were recycled, such as reuse of wood for architectural embellishments, benches and concrete forms. Reduction of energy use was a major focus of the project, partly helped by high-efficiency lighting and climate-control systems and partly via more daylight use from a clerestory. Landscaping was redesigned to have more native Northern California foliage, and a rainwater-runoff filtering system for the more than 40-acre property also was installed.

Northgate is Macerich's second mall to earn LEED certification, following Gold-level for the new Santa Monica Place last year.

[caption id="attachment_69757" align="alignright" width="400"] Seagate Properties received Gold-level LEED certification for the two newest buildings at San Rafael Corporate Center.[/caption]

In October, the two office buildings first built at 315,000-square-foot San Rafael Corporate Center received Gold-level LEED certification under the Existing Building Operations and Maintenance rating system, according to General Manager Dale Tate. All four office buildings in the development now are LEED Gold--certified.

Joint owner Seagate Properties of San Rafael and LEED consulting firm Kema spent the year documenting the chemicals and practices used by contractors, vendors and suppliers, measuring the balance of and fresh air brought in by the heating and cooling system.

"In a process like this, it is very tedious," Mr. Tate said. "You have to look at every aspect of the operation of the office building, from the roof the the foundation."

The two newest buildings and a parking garage at San Rafael Corporate Center were completed in 2009. Yet substantial occupancy came in September of last year, when BioMarin Pharmaceutical moved and expanded its headquarters offices from its Novato production plant.

Energy Star ratings have been in place for years on on the first two San Rafael Corporate Center buildings. Now that the two newer buildings are occupied, Seagate plans to apply for ratings on those buildings after compile a year's worth of energy bills, according to Mr. Tate. Cutting energy usage can help lower operating costs, which helps both increase the returns for property owner and lower the tenant occupancy costs.

And Reno, Nev.-based Basin Street Properties, which started in Petaluma, has been upgrading energy efficiency of a number of the 17 Santa Rosa office buildings it acquired from Equity Office in October as part of a companywide move further in that direction, according to Scott Stranzl, Basin Street vice president.

"We ask ourselves, How do we create buildings or make existing buildings have less impact on the environment?" he said. "The double-edged sword is we want to do green upgrades, but the cost is substantial."

Part of the upgrades in Santa Rosa are new roofs and upgraded heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems with energy-management controls that can be monitored and adjusted remotely.

"We implement that across the board," Mr. Stranzl said.

The company is moving toward Energy Star ratings on all the buildings in the portfolio, located in the Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sacramento and Reno areas. Two Sacramento-area buildings already have been LEED-certified.***

Terra Firma Global Partners (800-681-1361, terrafirmaglobalpartners.com), started in 2010 as a residential real estate brokerage by former Pacific Union senior executives Bill Facendini and Heidi Rickerd-Rizzo, officially unveiled a commercial division in January with the completion of a few sales and leases in Santa Rosa and Windsor.

The team consists of Mr. Facendini, Ms. Rickerd-Rizzo, who has brokered a number of multifamily deals and advised clients on income housing property arrangements, together with longtime Santa Rosa--area commercial real estate agent Paul Schwartz.

The latter started with leasing properties in the late 1980s for Simons & Brecht, now Simons & Woodard. He was a top producer in the Santa Rosa office of Orion Partners for nine years before joining team that opened the Santa Rosa office of Colliers International. He worked from the Santa Rosa office of Cassidy Turley for six years then worked with KOR Commercial last year before joining Terra Firma.

“The addition of the Commercial Division, with Paul taking the lead in creating a client oriented team, was a logical expansion of our company service platform,” Mr. Facendini said.

The new commercial team's first deals were the sale of a medical condominium complex at 990 Sonoma Ave. in Santa Rosa for $4.25 million; a 6,000-square-foot office building at 2360 Professional Dr. for $900,000; two former RPM Optoelectronics buildings on Corby Avenue for a electrician apprentice training center, and a relocation lease of 9,200 square feet in the Windsor Palms strip center to 21st Century Fitness.

Mr. Facendini was senior vice president and chief operating officer of Pacific Union for two years before starting Terra Firma, and before that he managed nearly 300 Coldwell Banker agents in Northern California. Terra Firma opened with a handful of agents and has grown to six offices with 32 agents.

“After working in the corporate commercial brokerage environment where business strategies and decisions are made elsewhere, it is fantastic and refreshing to work with a group of dedicated professionals to achieve common business objectives who put clients first,” Mr. Schwartz said....

Send items for this column to 707-521-4256 or jquackenbush@busjrnl.com.