Real estate investor Unico’s sustainability and property management teams accepted award
DENVER (November 9, 2018) — The Circa Building was one of the projects honored by Mayor Michael B. Hancock of the City of Denver for excellence in architecture, design, and place-making in a ceremony that took place Thursday, Nov. 8. The LEED Platinum-certified, 96,000-square-foot Class A office building was recognized under the “Sustainable Style” category, according to the press release from the mayor’s office. Unico Vice President of Real Estate Services Russ Davis, Associate Director of Solar Investments Adam Knoff, and Associate Regional Director Sarajane Goodfellow, and Swinerton Assistant Project Manager Shelby Boardman accepted the award on behalf of their respective teams and companies.
“We couldn’t have done it without our incredible partners on the project—Open Studio Architecture, who conceptualized a design that pays homage to the history of the area while also accommodating the makers and innovators of tomorrow; Swinerton Builders, who realized our vision of creating a place where people can be and do their best; and Costigan Integrated, who helped see this development through to completion,” said Knoff in remarks during the ceremony.
Owned and developed by Unico Properties LLC, a subsidiary of Unico Investment Group LLC, The Circa Building was Unico’s first ground-up development in Denver. Unico-subsidiary Costigan Integrated oversaw the development of the building.
“The fact that it’s part of the evolution of Platte Street makes it that much more special. We’re proud to build on the area’s 150-year history of being an epicenter of commerce in Denver,” said Knoff.
Since 2005, the awards have been presented to Denver homeowners, business owners, nonprofits, artists and others for their creative contributions to the public realm through innovative design. Winners can range from community placemaking projects to adaptive reuse of historic structures to single-family residences to major mixed-use downtown buildings, according to the press release from the mayor’s office.
“The field of winners this year is the most diverse ever selected,” Mayor Hancock said in the press release. “The list is the perfect showcase of what we can do as a city when we design with the intent of lifting up our community.”
“We’re equally proud to showcase high-performance building innovation in an area steeped in history—in addition to other features, Circa has a solar array built and funded by Unico Solar Investors,” said Knoff during the ceremony. “The system produces nearly one-third of the building’s electricity needs at a cost less than market rates. It highlights Unico Solar Investors’ innovative model that creates value out of underutilized rooftops by producing low-cost, renewable electricity while providing a site lease to the owner.”
The Circa Building features multiple sustainable elements such as the white Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) on the building’s roof, which helps reduce the heat island effect, and solar panels (196 kW PV system), which offset nearly a third of the total energy costs of the building. The solar panels were deployed by Unico Solar Investors, a division of Unico that develops, owns and operates solar energy systems both within and outside Unico’s portfolio. The design also incorporates features such as low-flow toilets, sinks and showers, resulting in a 36 percent reduction in water usage compared to a typical building of this size.
Additional sustainability metrics that contributed to the building’s LEED Platinum certification include:
- 3 percent energy costs savings due to the installation of state-of-the-art HVAC systems
- 77 percent of the total building materials, by value, were manufactured using recycled materials
- 68 percent of the total building materials, by value, were manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of the project site
- 3 percent of all regularly occupied spaces have a direct line of site to outdoor views
In an email, Knoff explained Unico’s collaborative and integrative approach that led to Circa’s sustainability wins, “Developing and constructing a high-performance building doesn’t need to require higher costs. By working collaboratively from the concept stage, the partners on Circa were able to achieve one of Denver’s highest performing buildings for an exceptionally low premium.”
According to Knoff, the key to achieving high-performance for an “incredibly marginal cost” was incorporating high-performance building techniques and strategies into the building’s base design, rather than trying to add-on to and/or enhance that base design later. “Increased daylighting, high-efficiency HVAC, daylit stairwells, and recycled and regional building materials often become prohibitively expensive if not considered until later in the design process,” wrote Knoff.
“Additionally, the Unico Sustainability and Unico Solar Investors teams brought significant value to the building in the form of lucrative utility rebates—which further reduced the premium—as well as a solar array that produces 30% of the building’s electricity needs at zero capital cost to the development.”
Unico was recently awarded the “Vision Award for Leadership” by the Seattle 2030 District for their pioneering sustainability leadership for a separate project in Seattle, the ultra-green Stone34 building.
- Learn about Unico’s owned and managed sustainability projects, from the ultra-green Stone34 to the world’s first living building, the Bullitt Center.
- Read about the opening of the Circa Building in the reborn Platte Street.
- Read about Unico’s recent award-winning efforts in sustainability leadership.