Developer, specializing in healthcare facilities, sees sustainable buildings as long-term investments.

Building developers typically cannot charge tenants more to lease space in a green building. That simple fact keeps many developers and builders from making the transition to sustainable construction, but not StoneCreek Company. The developers — based in Rancho Santa Margarita, California — recently completed a LEED Silver-certified medical facility.

StoneCreek started in 1993 and now develops properties from the ground up with a focus on the healthcare and medical industry. Clay Corwin, president, says that his company portfolios its developments for long-term appreciation instead of simply flipping properties. "We manage our own buildings and expect to own them for the long-term," he explains.

Corwin believes that a green investment now will yield positive results later. "There is not always a financial return for short-term owners, but it makes sense for long-term owners, and it's the right thing to do. We've embraced it as a company," he says. Although owners may not be able to charge more for a green building, the costs of ignoring sustainable construction may loom large. "Green building is no longer something nice to do. Your building will become obsolete and inferior if you don't do it," Corwin argues, saying that corporate America may soon refuse to rent non-green office space.

In just a few years, practices like those outlined in LEED will be standard in every building. "If we plan to sell in 10 or 20 years, then we need to take steps today to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace," Corwin says. The alternative to going green now will be paying a bigger expense to remodel or retrofit buildings with green features that become official mandates. "Other owners will be going back to make existing buildings green; we build the best product in our markets and simply do not cut corners to save a buck," he says.

StoneCreek's first foray into the world of LEED was Claremont Medical Plaza, a 50,000-square-foot state-of-the-art medical facility in Claremont, California. The multitenant property is anchored by a major hospital's out-patient health center, with the balance of the facility occupied by other healthcare professionals. The exterior building envelope was constructed using energy-efficient glazing and insulation. High-efficiency mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems combine with low- and no-VOC materials inside to provide excellent air quality for employees and visiting patients.

The building was conceived in 2006, and construction started in early 2008. Corwin describes the green aspects as "the nuts and bolts of sustainability." Claremont includes preferred parking for energy-efficient vehicles, a reflective roof to minimize heat-island effect, drought-resistant landscaping to conserve water, and a green housekeeping program to reduce toxins. Calculations from the LEED certification show the site to save 366,917 gallons of potable water each year. The HVAC system will save an annual $142,000 in energy bills and 225 tons (80 percent) of construction waste was recycled.

Public education is another big facet of the project. StoneCreek incorporated public art into the building's mainentrance to attract interest and foster interaction. The company installed signs describing the building's green features; information is distributed to prospective tenants and guests; and StoneCreek offers tours of the medical plaza.

Corwin plans to take what he learned at Claremont to other company projects. "We're not doing this just to get a plaque on the wall," he says. "We're doing it because we believe in it. I can't imagine us doing another development without focusing on sustainability and LEED compliance."

As a developer and manager, Corwin knows that only certain things attract tenant interest—location, amenities and features, and a high-quality product. "Today's college students will be running the businesses that lease space from us in the future," he says. "They're going to know all about sustainability and expect it. To me, going green is simply a good business decision."