Green Getting Greener: Rio Salado on Track for Multiple LEED Awards

May 22, 2015

Does it seem like buildings are sprouting from dirt at 1850 W Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe? And what if we told you those are green buildings… with more to come across the valley?

Just beyond Tempe Town Lake from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, Rio Salado Building one had its official grand opening with partners Liberty Property Trust and RSP Architects on October 16, 2014. Construction of Buildings two & three is well under way, including the site preparation for four additional buildings. When this project is complete, it’s going to be something to remember with seven buildings in total and four separate parking garages to accommodate tenants.

Totaling for more than 160,000 square-feet, occupying the entire first floor of Building one is the industry-leading provider of healthcare and benefit plans, Wage Works. Included in the scope for tenant improvement were countless upgrades from a standard 80,000 square-foot office space to the stunning and environment-friendly structure as it stands today. One LEED upgrade that is particularly intriguing was the lobby entrance to the building. Originally comprising of standard space with static concrete flooring and a basic soffit ceiling, the lobby converted into highly elevated stone walls constructed from identical stone as the exterior. Another major improvement switched the basic drywall soffit ceiling to a pixilated ceiling that featured different elevations for every square hanging from above. Ceramic tile quickly became the overlay of choice, and interior upgrades from Wage Works office space were all added to the list of changes.

An order change that altered the entire course of the building was whether to settle for a LEED Silver certified building or make improvements to reach LEED Gold. One of the major additions to the project was increasing the amount of solar panels to the roof of the building to ensure a certain percentage of self-sustainable energy. A 10-kilowatt solar array of about 40 panels added to the roof of the building ensured the buildings LEED Gold certification. Other changes such as plumbing, LED lighting throughout the building, and upgraded windows on the exterior assured LEED certification.

Building two is on par for majority of the same awards. LEED Gold is in the foresight as well, and the requirements are implemented in earlier stages rather than altering the building process half way into the project. Colin Degrassi, project engineer of the Rio Salado campus, commented on the changes, “It wouldn’t be fun without changes! For stress’ stake, this will be a smooth transition to achieve Gold, and this time we know it’s coming and we know how to prepare ahead of time.”

As for planning the additional four buildings, Wespac’s team ensures LEED Gold is in mind for inclusion rather than adaptation. The team tracked the necessary changes for Building one, and those changes reflect drawings as construction continues for the additional buildings.

With Arizona being the 3rd largest chapter in the country, LEED certified projects are emerging as the valley’s fastest growing market. The outcomes benefit investors, brokers, and tenants alike additionally to the enviromental footprint. Wespac is currently en route to increase LEED certified employees to 60% of all field and office employees. Glenn Leier, Wespac Principal and LEED certified project overseer, commented on the market sector, “It’s a growing interest for nearly everyone involved in expanding green initiatives and projects. Business and developers see more than just potential, it’s becoming a business within its own.”

Category: Projects