The state's first green-certified shopping center will be built in Eldersburg by fall 2008 with a passive solar "daylighting" system, a rainwater recycling system and white pavers that reflect light, developers of the $20 million project said yester- day.
Black Oak Associates Inc. plans a 90,000-square-foot Main Street-style center near the intersection of Routes 32 and 26 in Carroll County.
The Owings Mills developer closed on the purchase of 12.5 acres yesterday and hopes to start construction within a month on Main Street Eldersburg, which will be next to the Eldersburg Marketplace.
The center is on track to become the first retail project in the state to win a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a nationally accepted benchmark for the design of green buildings from the U.S. Green Building Council.
So far, Maryland has 17 LEED-certified projects, including offices, hotels, a day care center, an elementary school, a library and apartment buildings, said David Pratt, president of the Baltimore chapter of USGBC.
The council, which offers several levels of certification, has seen an increase in green building as developers seek lower operating costs and increased market value.
Retail developers have been slower to seek the green certification - which can add 2 percent to 5 percent to the cost of construction - because they typically build for tenants that complete the building work for their individual stores. But that is changing, Pratt said.
"You're looking at forward-thinking [retail] developers starting to implement this, and the mainstream is going to follow pretty quickly," Pratt said. "It's started to happen on the office side in a big way and shopping centers will be next."
Main Street Eldersburg, which got final approval from the Carroll County Planning Commission last month, will have three buildings with five pad sites for restaurants or convenience stores and likely have tenants such as casual dining restaurants, a spa, florist, coffee shop and home furnishings retailer.
The buildings will use strategically placed glass panels to maximize interior daylight and help cut down on electricity use as well as high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Developers hope to install a cistern system to capture and reuse rainwater. White, instead of black, pavers will be designed to reflect light.
"We think it's the right thing to do, and we see it as a business opportunity as well," said Mike Trenery, Black Oak vice president of development. "We think that the standards that have been established for green buildings will be ... adopted by government agencies, ... and we're getting ahead of the curve on this."
Several jurisdictions, including Baltimore City and Howard County, are considering requiring green building standards, and Montgomery County has adopted green building standards.
Trenery said taking environmentally sound steps would translate into operating cost savings for tenants, thus making the center's appeal. And some retailers have found that increased daylight in stores helps to boost sales.
Kent Jeffreys, legislative counsel in the office of global public policy for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said retail landlords and retailers have been experimenting with green building practices, such as recycling, even though many haven't sought certification from USGBC, which is working on specific standards for shopping centers.
"There is this awareness that more people have of their impact on the environment," Jeffreys said. "People who run businesses are having the same thoughts. They're looking for ways to be more environmentally responsible because they think it's the right thing to do, and if they can make a dollar, even better."