Corporate Expansion & Relocation

Recycled buildings bring fresh approach to relocations

They're the environmentally conscious option

Buildings go from obsolete to state-of-the-art

By Keith Ross

Reduce, reuse, recycle...why not apply it to commercial real estate as well as to aluminum, glass, plastic, paper, etc.? Perhaps one of the slower industries to think "green," the commercial real estate industry has, in the past decade, become more cognizant of and involved in environmental issues. A primary focus of this surge of interest in environmental issues has concentrated on "brownfields" and their transformation into viable properties. However, increasing focus is being placed on another positive environmental contribution that the real estate industry can make, and is spurring progressive developers and owners to action. This new area of focus is "recycling buildings."

From obsolete to state-of-the-art

Historically, many developers have concentrated almost exclusively on the development of raw land, rather than systematically reviewing other land use options, such as redevelopment. The emergence of "recycling buildings" reflects a basic paradigm shift, representing the latest thinking in redeveloping existing commercial properties, particularly old or obsolete facilities or those in dire need of a makeover.

Traditionally, developers and growing companies had two choices when it came to dealing with an existing project, particularly with industrial facilities: they could either bring the facility up to code, implementing modern technology via the "band-aid" approach, which can be very expensive and sometimes physically impossible; or, they could demolish the existing structure(s) to make room for the new facility, disposing of the old building materials at local landfill sites and purchasing new materials for the new structure.

Recycling buildings provides a third option. In terms of real estate and buildings, "recycling" takes the traditional demolition and rebuilding process to the next level, where everything is approached from a reuse standpoint. The majority of demo materials are used on-site, with the rest being shipped to industrial recycling facilities and then sold or donated for use in real estate and other projects. What was once a functionally obsolete building is not only demolished but literally reused in the creation of technologically advanced, energy efficient, state-of-the-art facilities.

It is just such a project that our company, Koll Real Estate Group, recently commenced at an existing site in the city of Anaheim. Two unused, 1960s-era buildings are being recycled in preparation for development of a new 315,000-square-foot speculative industrial facility, Koll's Anaheim Technology Center.

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