A gray and white building with sparse landscaping depicts one part of the Rexford Industrial TI space

As Rexford Industrial works to reinvent Southern California’s industrial properties, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification across their portfolio has been a key component. With a current building stock of about 44 million square feet, one of their most recently completed projects in Garden Grove was the first to adhere to LEED v4 ID+C: Commercial Interiors as part of a tenant improvement undertaking.

VCA Green leveraged an Integrative Process that included Rexford Industrial’s team, architects at Ware Malcomb, and RPM Engineers as key team members to drive sustainability goals. Not only did Rexford have the Garden Grove mayor’s backing in pursuing a green building certification, but the team also knew that LEED would create a high-performing product that benefits not only their financial interests but employee satisfaction.

“Working in a warehouse historically hasn’t had the reputation for being the most glorious job, so we are aiming to make this a more comfortable experience,” Rexford Industrial Senior Project Manager for Development and Construction Kim Cart said. “In general, we like the mechanical enhancements and creature comforts, like extra air exchanges and big ass fans, those are cool things to see going into buildings and get air moving for our employees in hotter months.”

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

Rating system: LEED v4 ID+C: Commercial Interiors
Certification level, point total, certification date: Certified, 41 points, on July, 6, 2023
Gross floor area: 4,725 square feet
Construction type: Nonrefrigerated Distribution/Shipping Warehouse
Credit highlights:

Location & Transportation: Maxed out available points for diverse uses
Water Efficiency: Reduced total water use 35% from baseline
Energy & Atmosphere: Improved performance 16% over baseline
Materials & Resources: Diverted more than 65% construction waste
Indoor Environmental Quality: Achieved enhanced air quality strategies

WHY THIS RATING SYSTEM

In 2021, Rexford Industrial Realty determined to LEED certify every new ground up development and increased that commitment to hit LEED Silver on all new projects in 2022. LEED recognition goals also extend to their reposition projects, like this tenant improvement.

“We are in the process of setting science-based emission reduction targets, and part of achieving that is to shoot for the highest standards and levels of efficiencies across our portfolio,” Cart said. “We felt pursuing certifications like LEED is instrumental in that.”

Rexford has also applied for the LEED Volume program, with their prototype secured at LEED Platinum precertification. Though this tenant improvement wasn’t part of the Volume portfolio, the majority of Rexford’s forthcoming new developments will be. Cart added that aligning with LEED helps Rexford improve their standards ands specifications as well as creating top-leasing spots for the cities they work within.

“Previously, our developments were attracting B or C-class tenants, but having this corporate governance opens us up to the most prestigious, high-balance-sheet clients,” she said.

Location and Transportation

This property is within ½-mile walking distance from number of public services and other amenities, including a chapel, sports complex, restaurants, pharmacies, and sporting goods stores. Proximity to these spaces reduces transportation activities and the associated emissions, and improves tenant health, productivity, and happiness. The building is also in a densely populated area with existing infrastructure, which helps preserve green land that can continue to serve as wildlife habitats.

Water Efficiency

Buildings account for about 13% of potable water use, which is in the top three categories of overall water usage in the United States. Rexford addressed the need for the building industry to play its part in potable water use reduction with low-flow sinks and low-flush toilets and urinals, cutting their usage 35% from the baseline.

Energy and Atmosphere

The TI space received a large portion of optimize energy performance points due to an aggressive energy use structure the project team implemented. The project achieved a 16% improvement in energy performance, which reduces environmental effects of excessive energy use as well as tenant utility bills. One hundred percent of the TI’s energy use is offset through green power and carbon credits, underscoring Rexford’s commitment to sustainable operations.

Materials and Resources

To reduce the volume of materials produced at the project that ends up in landfills, Rexford Industrial offers several receptacles for recyclable materials, including mixed paper, glass, cardboard, metals, and plastics. During construction, the team diverted 65% of their construction and demolition waste, separating collections for metal, drywall, wood, concrete, etc. instead of combining it all in a waste bin.

Indoor Environmental Quality

Healthy indoor environmental quality – which targets pollution reduction, sufficient lighting, acoustic design, etc. – has been proven to lead to higher productivity and happiness among tenants, while reducing absenteeism. Not only did Rexford meet the prerequisite for minimum ventilation, the team also incorporated enhanced strategies, incorporating features like walk-off mats, carbon monoxide meters, and high filtration mechanisms. At least 90% of the individual spaces feature individual atmospheric controls, like light adjustment, which increases tenant comfort and wellbeing.

CONCLUSION

Overall, this tenant improvement project is an excellent study in how to achieve certification even with team members who are new to LEED and how to nab points for an industrial facility that are typically more elusive than a multifamily or commercial office project. Esplanade Builders, the general contractor, worked closely with VCA Green and Rexford Industrial to ensure their first LEED project’s completion. Goal setting and trades training – and realigning throughout the process – were essential tools for success.

“The originally submitted plans changed significantly during the construction process, and we rolled out a bunch of new design standards around that time,” Cart reflected. “All these moving parts like LEED material documentation became a moving target for a while. Despite the difficult nature of the job and having contractors unfamiliar with LEED, the VCA Green project management team was very patient with us and made things as painless as possible.”

VCA Green also assisted with LEED Core and Shell certification on this project. For a similar experience on your next certification, contact a VCA Green principal below.

Moe Fakih, Principal
mfakih@vca-green.com

Robyn Vettraino, Principal
rvettraino@vca-green.com

Rudy DeLaO, Rexford T.I. Project Manager
Dani Grace, Contributing Writer