Mendocino Farms base camp in El Segundo scored 61 points to achieve LEED Gold certification.

One of the principles of sustainable development is to avoid the destruction of open land; therefore, reimagining existing spaces is one of the most environmentally conscious approaches to revitalizing a community. Federal Realty is adopting that mentality in The Point shopping center in Southern California. Slowly but surely, they are ascribing new identities to existing retail spaces, including partnering with Mendocino Farms to craft a new office.

“The Mendocino Farms office is a great adaptive reuse story with a host of sustainability components,” Stuart MacDonald, Federal Realty’s Vice President of Regional Development, said. “This building was used for retail for so many years, and now it’s found this second life as a creative office.”

With Ware Malcomb’s architectural design, Alfa Tech’s MEP team and VCA Green’s LEED Services, Mendocino Farms employees are set up in a healthy, sustainable and intellectually stimulating work environment.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

Rating system: LEED v4 Interior Design & Construction: Commercial Interiors
Certification level, point total, certification date: GOLD (61 points) certified November 10, 2022
Gross floor area: 7,245 sq. ft.
Construction type: Office space
Credit highlights:

Location & Transportation: Achieved regional priority for quality transit
Water Efficiency: Achieved 35% reduction for indoor water use
Energy & Atmosphere: Renewable energy certificates offset energy consumption 100% for first five years of operation
Materials & Resources: Achieved 95% construction waste diversion rate
Indoor Environmental Quality: Received full points for enhanced indoor air quality methods

WHY THIS RATING SYSTEM

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. Millions of people are living, working and learning in LEED-certified buildings around the world.

Obtaining LEED certification was important to Federal Realty because it’s an essential part of their commitment to long-term growth and value creation.

“The California green building threshold is already pretty high, so it was easy to hit LEED Silver just by meeting that,” MacDonald said. “But getting to gold is typically more of a lift, and it was important to us to work toward that next level.”

Location and Transportation

This building is within ½-mile walking distance from number of public services and other amenities. Proximity to retail and grocery stores, cafes/restaurants, banks, hospitals, public parks, etc. reduces transportation activities and improves public health, productivity and happiness. This building is within ½-mile walking distance of various transit routes. Such easy access to these routes reduces vehicular transportation of employees and visitors to the project site, as well as their associated carbon emissions. Mendocino Farms is located within a LEED Core and Shell certified space as part of a greater plot that Federal Realty is developing, providing a more sustainable canvas to start from.

Sustainable Sites

Ownership developed Sixth and Jackson with sustainability as a consideration for site upkeep and operations. All plants are non-invasive, and a nontoxic pest control plan implemented passive design features to mitigate potential pest issues. Additionally, one can spot low-impact development techniques like permeable pavement, which allows rainwater to re-enter the ground and support the natural water cycle instead of burdening the sewage system.

Mendocino Farms offers outside spaces for lunch or taking callsWater Efficiency

This building is tracking 35% indoor water use reduction from the calculated baseline with the installation of water-efficient fixtures at the break room and restrooms. Federal Realty has also elected to share water usage monthly with annual summaries for the first five years of this commercial building’s operations.

Energy and Atmosphere

Mendocino’s HVAC equipment was selected with energy performance in mind. As designed, this building has an estimated 25% energy savings compared to similar-sized office spaces designed to minimum building code specifications. With the goal of reducing stratospheric ozone depletion, the project utilizes a condenser water system.

With this system, the use of refrigerants has been reduced and the likelihood of a refrigerant leak is very low. Equipment specified uses a minimal amount of the CFC-free refrigerant HFC-410A which has an Ozone Depletion Potential of 0 and a low global warming potential.

As a bonus, Federal Reality is offsetting 100% of their anticipated energy use for the first five years of operation at Mendocino Farms through Green-e Certified Clean Source.

Materials and Resources

As this project was an adaptive reuse, almost the entire building structure was recycled. “We added skylights and swapped out some mechanical systems, but pretty much the full building shell was intact with its original form,” MacDonald said.
To reduce construction and demolition waste disposed of in landfills and to incineration facilities Federal Realty implemented a Construction and Demolition Waste Management plan that established waste diversion goals for metal, drywall, wood, concrete and C&D. Approximately, 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfill.

Indoor Environmental Quality

Federal Realty implemented mechanical ventilation and monitoring systems to ensure minimum outdoor air intake rates are maintained to yield quality indoor air, minimize exhaust, smells, carbon dioxide and pollutants in the building. Outdoor air monitors for the mechanical ventilation system measure the outdoor air intake flow and will alarm if the airflow levels are unhealthy.

A 10-foot-long permanent entry way system is also installed at the office’s main entrance to capture dirt and particulate entering the building. High-efficiency air filters are installed in the outdoor ventilation system that supplies outdoor air to occupied spaces and all filters were replaced before occupancy.

EV charging spots at mendocino farms

Preferred parking spots for EVs needing charging incentivizes people to go electric or carpool with an electric driver.

CONCLUSION

When Mendocino Farms decided to push from LEED Silver to Gold, VCA Green explored every possible credit pathway that made sense for the office space. With extensive digging into environmentally friendly products, offsets for energy consumption, intentional fixture and system choices and countless other sustainability techniques, VCA Green helped the property team secure 61 points.

Lauren Holiday, a Federal Realty project manager, said architects from Ware Malcomb also served as an integral partner in the certification, as finding architects enthusiastic about working within LEED guidelines can sometimes be a struggle. Utilizing a collaborative foundation with Verde, A VCA Company, Ware Malcomb successfully navigated Mendocino’s need for balance between aesthetics, budget and LEED certification goals.

“Getting everyone on board to make sure all documentation is in place, picking the right materials, submitting all the paperwork – that is all kind of an uphill battle, so we’re grateful to Ware Malcomb for working with us and our sustainability consultants on that,” she said.

With adaptive reuse projects like the Mendocino Farms office, a shopping center that used to be filled with retail spaces going out of business is transforming into a hub for shopping, restaurants and company headquarters, contributing to a more vibrant community in El Segundo.

Moe Fakih, Principal
mfakih@vca-green.com

Robyn Vettraino, Principal and Project Manager for Mendocino Farms
rvettraino@vca-green.com

Dani Grace, Contributing Writer