The Real Deal Miami

Broward medical office building gets touch of green

By Jennifer LeClaire | June 04, 2008 11:10AM

As the quest for healthier environments and energy savings continues, healthcare designers and developers, including South Florida’s own Sky Development and Edward Lewis Architects, are pushing the environmentally-friendly envelope.

Sky Development on Monday announced that Edward Lewis Architects (ELA) will design Park Plaza Executive Center, a $34 million pair of medical/professional office buildings planned for a site adjacent to Memorial Hospital Pembroke in Pembroke Pines. Sky is pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for the buildings.

“We’ve determined there’s a market demand for a green medical building through a professional study on the local market,” said Gavin Susman, COO of Sky Development, an Aventura-based owner, manager and developer of commercial and residential properties. “It costs more to develop, but we’re looking at the marketing benefits of building green – plus it’s the right thing to do.”

Located on nearly 10 acres, the development will feature 160,000 square feet of office space, including about 10,000 square feet dedicated to retail, restaurants and a bank to serve the adjacent hospital’s 1,800 employees.

Design-wise, ELA chose warm tones, tinted glazed windows and lush landscaping to create a healthy, upbeat work environment and an aesthetically pleasing look. ELA has designed similar projects in Saudi Arabia, Central America and the Caribbean.

The project’s green architecture will save energy and water. That means reduced operating expenses while providing end users with a healthy work environment to enhance productivity, according to Edward Lewis, principal of the Coral Gables-based firm. But designing green architecture is only part of the challenge.

“The process of green building design is a team effort. The owner, contractor and all the design professionals have a part and responsibility in the implementation of the green building process,” Lewis said. “The green building process uses good building practices, that if done properly, will have a minimum impact on the project budget. The returns on investment can be substantial.”

To Lewis’ point about a team approach, Sky Development’s part is to implement green building management practices, such as hiring cleaning companies that use eco-friendly cleaning agents, minimizing harmful VOCs, accommodating recycling efforts, implementing building energy management systems, placing preferred parking for energy efficient transportation systems and offering special facility and showers for bike riders.

The contractor, meanwhile, has a responsibility to keep the site contained to minimize run-off and construction debris outside the site, employing watering practices that minimize dust and recycling construction debris. Lewis focused on selecting the sustainable landscaping and hardscape materials. He also selected a building orientation that minimizes the heat gain and selected HVAC and electrical equipment that will result in an energy savings of 15 percent.

“The process of designing a green medical building is similar to designing a green office building,” Lewis said. “The main difference is a medical building is designed for flexibility for the end users. We incorporate additional plumbing chases and HVAC components to the building the tenant needs.”

Park Plaza Executive Center is located at 2121 and 2141 University Drive on the southeast corner of University Drive and Sheridan Street. Construction is set to begin in October 2008 and the doors will open a year later. Construction of the second building and parking garage will begin when the first building is complete, unless demand accelerates that schedule, Sky said.