SAN DIEGO — Hines, an international real estate firm, and equity partner J.P. Morgan Asset Management, announced that the 13-story, 415,000-square-foot building under construction at La Jolla Commons in San Diego will become the nation’s largest net-zero energy office building to date. The new building will achieve net-zero on an annual basis through a combination of high-performance building design, directed biogas and on-site fuel cells that annually are expected to generate more electricity than the building and tenant will use. While there are other small net-zero buildings in the U.S., LPL Financial at La Jolla Commons will be the largest net-zero office building in the U.S. developed for lease.

The building will be fully leased and occupied by LPL Financial LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of LPL Financial Holdings Inc. It is being developed and will be owned by a partnership of Hines and institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Construction is scheduled for completion in mid-2014.

The building design incorporates a highly efficient under-floor air system, advanced curtain wall materials, and a number of other features that reduce the energy required to operate the building. The fuel cells, from Bloom Energy, will generate approximately 5 million kWh of electricity annually, which is above what the building will consume. Total on-site energy production will be roughly equivalent to generating the electricity required to power 1,000 San Diego homes. The fuel cells will convert methane into electricity in a non-combustion process. Sufficient methane for the system will be acquired from carbon-neutral sources, such as landfills and wastewater plants, and placed into the natural gas pipeline system. This system will contribute to California’s goal of deriving a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The building is the result of an extensive research study undertaken by Hines and engineering firm WSP Flack + Kurtz.

“LPL Financial at La Jolla Commons is one further step in our objective to put new building strategies and technologies into practice in an economically viable way, using our experience to continually reset our own standards of quality. First and foremost, we designed a Class A, commercially viable property, then we devised strategies to make it net-zero. We could not have made this project net-zero without the commitment and participation from LPL Financial,” said Jeff Hines, Hines president and CEO.

Gary Holtzer, Hines global sustainability officer, said, “Our net-zero project at La Jolla Commons gives us a great foundation for furthering the use of carbon-neutral technologies and fuels. Our next step is to adapt what we have learned and apply it to an existing urban property in a less temperate environment. We believe that through this ongoing investment in sustainable R&D, we will lead the industry forward.”

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Publication date: 1/7/2013