Beverly Hills, Calif. – StarPoint Properties, LLC, a Beverly Hills-based real estate investment firm, was recently awarded LEED Gold status for sustainability-related improvements made to the Beverly Hills office tower (433 N. Camden Drive) the firm purchased for $193 million in 2018.
The 12-story, Class-A commercial office tower was sold to StarPoint last year by Camden Properties Ltd., and holds the record as the most expensive office building purchased in Beverly Hills. StarPoint purchased the 1972-era building with intentions to renovate, as prior renovations date back to 2003. Rather than opting for a standard renovation model, the firm opted to move the tower from dated to green, and first-stage improvements recently led to the property receiving LEED Gold v4.1 certification.
According to Paul Daneshrad, CEO of StarPoint Properties, “the goal was always to develop this property as a means for StarPoint tenants to maximize profits in a way that aligns with the world-class location while practicing corporate social responsibility.”
During the initial audit process, the StarPoint team was made aware of the pervasive use of outdated fluorescent lighting throughout the building and in common areas like stairwells and the parking garage. They immediately replaced all fluorescents and retrofitted all lighting fixtures with LED bulbs, which resulted in one of the largest cost-related and energy-related savings measures; simply replacing the lighting fixtures of the common areas throughout the building produced savings of over $12,000 and 80,000 kilowatt hours annually.
Daneshrad explained that the big picture plan is to “first address money-saving, sustainable measures, so we can reduce costs associated with maintenance and operations, then move on to the exterior and aesthetic qualities.”
StarPoint also scored high in the LEED certification process where transportation and waste reduction were concerned. While the 433 N. Camden address is difficult to access via mass transit, a large number of tenants drive green vehicles, which greatly increased the score. The property also received high marks for implementing a robust recycling program and for its reduction of single-use plastics, such as bottles and utensils, across the entire building.
The process of green retrofitting can be challenging. Not everyone is trained for this and specialized consultants must be hired to find the right solutions.
The LEED certification was overseen by Katie Freeze, LEED AP O+M, WELL AP, Fitwel Ambassador and sustainability coordinator at Leading Edge Consulting Services, LLC (LE).
“Buildings, and commercial buildings in particular, play a far greater role in ensuring the health of our environment than most people realize,” said Freeze. “Most of the environmental impact derived from commercial buildings comes from their maintenance and operation – as opposed to construction. Getting a building LEED-certified is the environmentally and economically responsible thing to do.”
We recently sat down with Paul Daneshrad to learn more about StarPoint’s decision to go green with this record-breaking property and why the firm is embracing sustainability as part of a broader business model.
What prompted the decision to retrofit a prime commercial space as a green building?
PD: Bringing sustainability into a long-term commercial property investment optimizes energy use and reduces costs, and makes the property more competitive in today’s market. Today, sustainability is expected; it’s part of our lifestyle. We believe that incorporating green elements into every project makes our environment healthier, and everyone — and every building — needs to contribute. Aside from the environmental benefits of sustainable improvements, it also increases the value of the property while preserving it for longterm resiliency and success.
How long did the retrofitting take, concept to completion?
PD: For this project, the process took about a year, several months of which were spent surveying the property with sustainability specialists in order to make sure we were making the best decisions. Our process was designed from an ‘outside-in’ perspective, meaning our team started with the garage and the most labor-intensive tasks first, then worked their way to the interior.
In addition to retrofitting lighting, what are other site-specific aspects of this green renovation?
PD: There are many green renovations that a building can implement to become more sustainable. Factors such as the building’s use, climate, age, and more will all play into what kind of renovations are completed. At 433 N. Camden, the project team determined that lighting retrofits would be the most cost-effective option for improving energy performance. Other aspects can involve adjustments to equipment runtime and general maintenance updates. Installation of building automation systems also optimizes the building’s energy use with little maintenance.
Beyond the “good business” aspect of going green, what are other standout benefits the team has realized in this project?
PD: Sustainability improvements are not at all limited to saving on capital costs; these improvements can save on labor as well. Replacing outdated equipment that is no longer running at full capacity, or uses an obsolete technology can save time annually for the building engineer’s team. For lighting, LED bulbs are remarkably more efficient and less hazardous to dispose of; given that they don’t need to be replaced as often, there is a tremendous savings on labor costs as well.
Do you think the sustainable model is the future of commercial real estate?
PD: Our society now expects sustainability to be incorporated into almost everything, thus the sustainable model is not only in demand today, it will remain so for the future, and not just for commercial real estate. As owners, we should provide tenants with spaces that are good for them as well as the overall community. From an owner’s standpoint, investing in green renovations positions a building for longterm success. These green renovations truly optimize building maintenance, preserving the look and integrity of a building for years to come.
Can you speak to the challenges unique to a green renovation?
PD: First, the process of green retrofitting can be challenging. Not everyone is trained for this and specialized consultants must be hired to find the right solutions. Second, this is an already built property, which has its own unique qualities. Materials sourcing can also be a challenge. Finding the right materials that can be delivered on time is critical. All of this means working with an experienced and qualified consultant to ensure that the renovations are appropriate, sustainable and competitive. Green renovations aren’t always a “one-size-fits-all” approach and it’s best to meet these challenges with someone who truly understands each building type.
What was the budget for this renovation?
PD: This renovation is likely to be followed by more as we are becoming more active in redevelopment of the property, so we do not have a final figure at this time. However, I am fully confident the changes will pay for themselves many times over.