Construction on SkyHouse Houston, an Energy Star-rated 24-story luxury apartment high-rise at 1625 Main Street in the Central Business District of Houston, is set to proceed in April. The Skyhouse mission is to find places in dynamic cities where Gen Y members—25-to-34-year-old singles—can experience affordable, sustainable, luxury high-rise living. SkyHouse Houston is the fifth SkyHouse project being developed by Denver-based Simpson Housing LLLP, Novare Group, Batson-Cook Development Co. and Houston-based developer Peter W. Dienna, and is designed by architecture firm Smallwood Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart. It follows projects in Atlanta, Orlando, Fla., and Austin, Texas.

JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. is providing construction financing for the project, and Simpson Housing, NGI Investments, LLC, led by Jim Borders, and Batson-Cook Development Company are providing equity. The CBRE team of Robert LaChappelle, Jonathan Rice and Paul Berry arranged financing. David Cook and Jeff Peden of Cushman & Wakefield brokered the land.

The new construction is expected to create 500 construction jobs and draw more than 400 residents to Houston’s CBD. The City of Houston awarded SkyHouse Houston a tax abatement of $15,000 per apartment unit, subsidizing the more expensive high-rise construction costs necessary on the small city blocks and representing a substantial incentive to drive new development in a submarket that has lagged an otherwise robust Houston apartment market.

SkyHouse Houston will feature floor-to-ceiling glass and 9-ft.-plus ceiling heights with high-end finishes, including stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, wood floors, expansive balconies and high-speed wiring. A top-floor “Sky House” will feature a club room, fitness center, pool and grilling area, with unimpeded views of much of Houston. The building will be within walking distance of more than 40 million sq. ft. of office space, the Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park, BBVA Compass Stadium and the Bell Station Metrorail stop, providing residents with excellent access via public transportation to the surrounding areas, including a short ride to the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical center and a major economic driver for Houston.

Skechers Distribution Center Is Largest LEED Building in U.S.

Skechers USA Inc.’s North American distribution center in Rancho Belago, Calif., has been certified LEED Gold. Developed by Highland Fairview, the 1.82-million-sq.-ft. facility is now the largest LEED-certified building in the U.S. The state-of-the-art building has the capacity to ship 100 million pairs of shoes annually. It is powered by 280,000 sq. ft. of rooftop solar panels. The addition of a Skechers retail store is featured at the site, serving the local community.

Wilshire Grand Hotel to Revive Downtown Los Angeles

Plans for Los Angeles’s Wilshire Grand Hotel, being developed by Korean Air Lines, have been unveiled. The $1 billion mixed-use building, to be built to LEED Silver standards, is set to be the tallest building in the city and on the West Coast, injecting new energy into its downtown.

The 73-story building will feature 900 four-star hotel rooms, 400,000 sq. ft. of class-A office space, 45,100 sq. ft of. restaurant and retail space housing world-class restaurants, a high-speed elevator and a rooftop “sky lobby” offering unparalleled views of the city and featuring an infinity pool.

The project will infuse $1 billion into the Los Angeles economy, create as many as 11,500 high-paying local jobs for the hard-hit construction industry and supports more than 1,750 permanent jobs annually once it opens.

Green design defines the project inside and out. The latest building and sustainability engineering is being utilized. By deconstructing the original Wilshire Hotel building instead of imploding or demolishing it, many of the materials from the old building—metal, concrete, wood—will be recycled. The result is nearly $4 million in recycling revenue that can be returned to the project. Construction will focus on green building techniques and materials, which will allow the building to achieve LEED Silver certification. Innovative lighting and climate systems will significantly reduce overall energy consumption. Water will be captured and recycled to irrigate landscaping and other non-drinking water uses—the result will be as much as a 30 percent reduction in water usage.

GRESB Appoints New Head of Sustainability

Elsbeth Quispel is the new head of sustainability at the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Quispel will be responsible for developing and managing the content of the annual GRESB Survey and the organization’s other products and services, including its annual report and publication of the annual survey results to members, survey respondents and partner industry associations. She will also represent GRESB at events and lead the strategic development of its benchmarking services.

Quispel comes to GRESB from Jones Lang LaSalle, where she was head of sustainability and advisor to blue-chip investors, investment managers and tenants regarding sustainability issues. Most recently, she launched the Greenlease Manual, an online tool for developing green leases, for Platform Duurzame Huisvesting and Vastgoedmanagement NL.

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs LEED Silver Clinic Completed

The Rockford Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, located in Rockford, Ill., has earned LEED Silver certification. The 32,150-sq.-ft. facility is a single-story building located on a 3.0-acre site. The building was constructed with tinted precast panels and features a sand-blasted exterior with a separate entrance for ambulance traffic. Sustainable features include geothermal heating and cooling, recycled materials and abundant natural light. These features represent a savings of 40 percent compared to a traditionally built facility of the same size.

Mercy Extends Energy-Saving Efforts

Mercy is expanding energy management efforts at its hospitals by using eSight energy management software to streamline energy data collection and monitor gas, electric and water usage to target areas for savings. The results will be reported to Energy Star, which Mercy is integrating into its hospitals. The project will begin at Mercy Hospital Springfield and within a year roll out to all of its 31 hospitals, with its 300 outpatient facilities to follow.

$400M Biomedical Facility at UMass Earns LEED Gold

The Albert Sherman Center, a 512,00-sq.-ft. biomedical research and education center on the University of Massachusetts Medical School campus in Worcester, Mass. has been completed. The LEED Gold-certified facility is 11 stories high with nine occupied floors and a two-story mechanical penthouse. It features laboratories, six community centers, an auditorium, conference rooms, café and dining and a fitness center as well as a 17-floor, 1,411-space parking garage. Construction began in 2010. The project received $90 million in funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

MWV, Rockefeller Group Announce Construction of First Building at Nexton

Construction began on the first building to be developed in the 4,500-acre master-planned community Nexton, in Summerville, S.C. The 100,000-sq.-ft. building is designed to LEED standards and will be at the entry point of the class-A campus that includes offices, hotels, apartments, parks and trails as well as restaurants and retail.

The four-story building will feature LED external lighting, native plants in landscaping, high-efficiency vehicle spaces and offices for MWV Community Development and Land Management as well as additional offices to be leased by Colliers International.

JLL Wins 2 IFMA Awards

Jones Lang LaSalle received two awards from the International Facility Management Association at the 30th annual IFMA/NYC Annual Awards of Excellence Dinner on Jan. 24 at The Pierre Hotel, 2 East 61st Street. JLL received an IFMA award for the Design & Construction of a New Facility (50,001 sq. ft. to 200,000 sq. ft.) for its new headquarters space at 330 Madison Avenue. Also honored were architect IA Interior Architects, general contractor Americon Construction Inc. and mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractor Syska Hennessy Group. JLL also received the IFMA’s LEED Certified Award during the event. Its space at 330 Madison Avenue was awarded LEED Gold Certification in mid-December 2012.

JLL’s space at 330 Madison Avenue was intended to reflect elegance with a minimal use of resources and can be adapted to a wide variety of future requirements. The company’s New York headquarters makes maximum use of natural light penetration and was specifically designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification. JLL began working on its new space in June 2011 and moved into 330 Madison Avenue in March 2012.

NGKF to Manage Clarion’s LEED Gold Portfolio in Centennial, Colo.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank ‘s property management team in Denver has been named manager for Clarion Partners’ Waterview Corp. Center in Centennial, Colo. The class-A, LEED Gold office portfolio comprises 365,000 sq. ft. at three buildings: Waterview One, 8005 S. Chester St.; Waterview Two, 9155 E. Nichols Ave.; and Waterview Three, 8000 S. Chester St. The campus is bordered by a lake, trails and an outdoor plaza adjacent to Park Meadows Mall.

Hines Announces Largest Net Zero Energy Commercial Office Building in U.S.

La Jolla Commons in San Diego, a 13-story, 415,000-sq.-ft. building under construction, will become the nation’s largest carbon-neutral building to date, according to owner/developer partners Hines and J.P. Morgan Asset Management. The building will achieve carbon neutrality on an annual basis through high-performance building design, directed biogas and onsite fuel cells that will generate more electricity than the building and its sole tenant—LPL Financial LLC—will use.

Construction of the building began in April 2012 and completion is scheduled for mid-2014. The building design includes an under-floor air system, advanced curtain wall materials, and other sustainable features. Fuel cells will generate approximately 5 million KWh of electricity per year, above what the building will consume—enough to generate enough power to run 1,000 San Diego homes.

Benenson Capital Installs Solar in Stamford, Conn.

Benenson Capital Partners LLC installed a rooftop solar energy system at its six-story, 260,000-sq.-ft. 1600 Summer St., a premium office property located on a 5-acre campus in Stamford, Conn. The building is currently leased to GE Asset Management, Philips Electronics, North American Corp. and Aon Corp.

The impact of the solar project, which features SunPower solar panels, will include reductions in carbon dioxide emissions at 113,147 pounds per year, sulfur dioxide emissions at 479 pounds per year and nitrous oxide emissions at 189 pounds per year. The building reflects Benenson’s long-term commitment to supporting environmentally-friendly projects. American Solar and Alternative Power provided Benenson with its solar solutions.