There Goes the Neighborhood

Word on the retail streets is that the shopping center industry is lagging behind the green movement. But a closer look uncovers something quite different—that developers may just be leading the way.

In July it was announced that 321 North, a mixed-use redevelopment in Plantation, Fla., had been accepted into the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Neighborhood Development pilot program. The project’s acceptance puts 321 North among an elite group involved in evaluating the standards set forth by the program’s rating system, which will be the first national rating system for neighborhood design. According to the USGBC, only communities that protect and enhance the overall health, natural environment and quality of life by reducing vehicular traffic, promoting pedestrian foot and public-transit activity and promoting efficient energy and water use are accepted into this program.

“The LEED for Neighborhood Development program is designed to go beyond the single green building approach and focus on design and development on a communitywide scale,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the USGBC. “Our pilot projects are pioneers—paving the way for the development of smarter and healthier communities.” The program is a collaboration of the USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism and Natural Resources Defense Council.

Currently in the approval phase, 321 North will be built on a 33-acre site strategically situated in what is slated to become the City of Plantation’s urban core. The $350-million residential, office, shopping, dining and entertainment project will spring from the redevelopment of the largely vacant, enclosed Plantation Fashion Mall, owned by U.S. Capital Holdings, and surrounding office and hotel components. The mall will be largely demolished and reconstructed in an open-air Main Street format. Upon completion, 321 North will yield approximately 525,000 sq. ft. of retail, office components and residential space. The development is an integral part of the City of Plantation’s master plan to build an urban town center, called Plantation Midtown.

Applying green building standards to an entire community is no easy task. According to project architect Jonathan Cardello, the learning curve has been the greatest challenge.

ADeeper Shade of Green

Having a green thumb can impact the way you see the world. And how you build on it. Since 1912, in Nebraska’s capital city of Lincoln, the Campbell family has owned and operated Campbell’s Nurseries and Garden Centers—a combination retail operation and greenhouse and field production business.

Five members of the fourth generation of Campbells are today involved not only in the operation of the nursery business, but in planning for a new future that also leverages the family’s green thumb—sustainable development.

The Village Gardens neighborhood project, on 300 acres on the south side of Lincoln, will feature not only 1,250 residences in nine diverse architectural styles, but will showcase The Marketplace at Village Gardens. The 25-acre Marketplace, when complete, will offer 200,000 sq. ft. of retail, office space, live-work units and a civic component. Planned tenants include a specialty grocer, pharmacy, bank, lifestyle/specialty retailers and what is being billed as a “slow food experience”—no fast food allowed. What Lincolnites know as the “Old Red Barn” will remain on site, where it has stood since the Campbells purchased the property in 1960, and will likely become a wine bar. Campbell’s Nurseries will continue its current operation on the site, adjacent to a two-acre pond and fountain with an outdoor gathering place and winding walking paths.

Notable about this project is not only that Lincoln has never had anything like it but that it will showcase the Campbells’ relationship to, and stewardship of, the land.

Minimal site grading will be done, in order to maintain the integrity of the land. The irrigation system used in the parks and green spaces will be run through the Campbells’ privately owned pond system; water runoff will be captured and reused for irrigation. A series of “wet” ponds—detention areas—will help detain water in the water basin, reaching up to 40% of what the city needs for its overall watershed basin.

“As opposed to most other developers, our family and our business reside on this land,” explained Carrie Campbell Grimes, director of development for Village Gardens. “So building high-quality, sustainable homes, buildings and green spaces is important to us.”

“I think that any professional who is working on a project of this scale, with the neighborhood development component, is learning,” he said. “The municipalities are learning, the architects are learning, the engineers are learning. We are taking each piece and determining how far we can take it toward a green, sustainable strategy.”

The green strategy includes features such as highly efficient mechanical and plumbing systems, energy-efficient glazing, paints and finishes that enhance indoor air quality, the incorporation of greenways, links to public transportation, open spaces, an onsite filtration pond, and a heavily vegetated parking structure that will help mitigate the heat of the sun.

As the architects and developers drive the project, they are quick to realize that the future tenants may not adapt to the green notion so easily.

“Green retail is in the early stages in general, relative to other sectors such as office,” said Paul D’Arelli, legal counsel for 321 North and the first and only Florida-based attorney with the designation in the USBGC Web-site directory of LEED Accredited Professionals. “The USGBC is now developing a special application of the LEED Commercial Interior rating for retail, and surely we will see growth in that area as the data seems to suggest increased sales in daylit stores, energy efficiencies and healthier workplaces for employees.”

“321 North is a stepping stone,” Cardello added. “Hopefully this project will contribute to making future projects easier and more accomplishable. And it will help the City of Plantation take a significant step toward becoming a sustainable community.”

10 Steps Toward Recycling

The Environmental Protection Agency and the International Council of Shopping Centers together created the following guide toward waste-management best practices in shopping centers:

Obtain management support, determine legal requirements and identify other incentives or disincentives;

Identify a recycling coordinator;

Form a “green team”;

Assess your waste stream;

Identify materials to be collected;

Select a recycling service provider;

Determine collection-program logistics;

Implement your recycling and management program;

Reap the public-relations benefits; and

Monitor, evaluate and refine the program.

Upon its opening in 1999, SouthPointe Pavilions, a 500,000-sq.-ft. outdoor lifestyle center in Lincoln, Neb., joined Waste Cap, a nonprofit, nonregulatory, confidential waste-reduction organization, to ensure that proper environmental initiatives would be instituted from the start. Directed by SouthPointe facilities manager Shawn Czaplewski, the recycling activities resulted in the following:

More than 100,000 lbs. of scrap metal in the form of outdated store fixtures were diverted from the landfill. Fixtures have been donated to Goodwill or to the snow-removal contractor, who uses the metal to reinforce his dump trucks;

Alocal recycling company processes all recyclable office supplies;

Tenants re-use all of their Styrofoam packing peanuts by sending them to the anchor Von Maur department store for its merchandise shipping program; and

264,000 lbs. of cardboard were compacted and recycled in 2006. SouthPointe has been lauded by Waste Cap of Nebraska for its efforts.

(For more information about the EPA’s “America’s Marketplace Recycles” program, visit www.epa.gov/rcc/amr.htm.)

Leading by example: Heralded by its shopping center developer peers as a leader in sustainable development, Loveland, Colo.-based McWhinney Enterprises hasn’t always been green. The company movement was planted in 2003, with the hiring of a VP of community design, and “heated up about 18 months ago,” said Jack Wolfe, president of commercial/mixed-use development. For McWhinney, building green is about taking responsibility for bringing others into the fold.

“We have a responsibility to bring people along,” Wolfe explained. “When you have a national retailer who’s coming on a project, generally sustainability is not at the top of their must-do list.”

McWhinney’s goal, according to Wolfe, is to make it easy for retailers to be sustainable.

“How do we do that? An easy way is, for example, to incorporate recycling into all of our centers. By making sustainability part of the shopping center template, and making it palatable and easy to implement, retailers may take away lessons that they can then incorporate into their other stores around the country,” he said.

Recommended stories

Login or Register to post a comment.