Watson Land Co. traces its heritage all the way back to Juan Jose Dominguez, who received California' first large Spanish land grant in what is now southern Los Angeles County.

Family descendents of the Spanish colonial army soldier incorporated the company in the early 1900s, and over the decades it has exploited its land holdings to become a leading county industrial developer.

Watson Land highlights that history on its Web site, but for all the pride it takes in its past, the Carson company has distinguished itself recently for something far more forward looking: environmentally sensitive design.

The company has seized on tenants' desires for modern, architecturally distinctive and energy-efficient quarters with a series of buildings it has dubbed "Legacy."

The buildings step out of the tilt-up mold with higher-grade landscaping, less boxy facades and prominent use of glass, which also serves to take advantage of daytime lighting but they go a step further.

Efficient lighting systems are controlled by photocells and motion detectors, urinals are waterless, recycled building materials are used when possible, and the landscaping is drought tolerant and designed to filter toxic runoff from the parking lot.

The design touches have received recognition from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Council, a group that has set U.S. green building standards.

"We want to build the best product in the marketplace with low maintenance costs for the benefit of our customers," said Stefan Rubendall, vice president of planning and design at Watson Land Co. "Our customer base is looking for this type of environment. All of our LEED spec buildings have been preleased."

For tenants, green buildings offer substantial savings in energy and maintenance. Last summer, Motivational Fulfillment and Logistics Services set up shop in a 300,000-square-foot LEED-certified facility in Chino after signing a four-year lease with Watson for about $7.5 million.

The company has seen a big difference in costs between the green building and a traditional facility it occupied in 2003.

"Our electricity bill is one half of the other building, while landscaping fees are about 40 percent less," said Geoff Landon, executive vice president of Motivational, one of the largest full-service fulfillment and logistics services in the country.

The privately held real estate investment trust is now tilting the walls on a 100,000 square-foot green facility at the Watson Corporate Center in Carson. The tenant, CCL Tube, will use the space for manufacturing containers for cosmetics and skin products.

BEST DESIGN

Watson Legacy Building Series

2250 E. 220th St., Carson

Developer: Watson Land Co., Carson

Specs: LEED certified, green design

Key Fact: Big savings in electrical costs


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