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300 Capitol Mall eco-certified

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Two international real estate development companies and their tenants at 300 Capitol Mall on Thursday celebrated the building’s LEED Gold certification.

The 18-story office building — home to the California State Controller’s Office, the California Department of Insurance and three other state agencies, as well as several businesses — won the second-highest rating for existing buildings from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The LEED program is designed to guide building owners who want to boost a structure’s operating efficiency while shrinking costs and impacts to the environment.

The downtown property is the first on Capitol Mall to win LEED certification, according to the building’s owners, Houston-based Hines and New York-based Sterling American Property. They threw a party for tenants late Thursday afternoon to celebrate the accomplishment.

“California’s economy and environment benefit from companies that find cleaner ways of doing business,” State Controller John Chiang said in a prepared statement.

The 383,238-square-foot building was constructed in 1984. Hines and Sterling, which both pursue green building and certification, bought the property in 2007. Hines, which manages the building and has an office there, oversaw a year of planning followed by a year’s work.

Water use was reduced with retrofitted plumbing and irrigation systems. Electricity use has been cut down by installing an automated system to control lighting, fans, heating and air conditioning and launching a program to clean offices during the day to reduce the need for lighting at night. Air quality has been improved with the use of a "green cleaning" program including non-toxic cleaning agents and highly filtered vacuums, said Lisa Fitzgerald, who oversaw the LEED certification effort as Hines’ general property manager for the building.

Hines also started a "Green Office for Tenants" program to show managers how to run offices in a more environmentally friendly, efficient way. Tips include turning off equipment at night, using more recycled paper and kitchen products, and relying on natural light as much as possible.

Five building tenants, including the state insurance department and the California Department of Finance, have been "green[-]certified" by Hines, she said.

"The tenants at 300 Capitol Mall place a high priority on sustainability and strongly support our efforts to green the building," said Rob Perkins, Hines’ property management director. "Within a short period of time, our staff has managed to vastly improve operating efficiency and position this asset for LEED Gold certification."

Photos by Suzanne Hurt, a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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