Council OKs ultra-green offices for Samsung

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March 21, 2013
Mountain View Voice
Council OKs ultra-green offices for Samsung

Samsung's research and development headquarters may be headed to Mountain View soon, after the City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a pair of six-story buildings along Highway 101 at the city's eastern border.

The 385,000-square-foot campus at 625-685 Clyde Avenue may be the greenest office project of its kind in Silicon Valley, according to developer TMG Partners -- a level of sustainability spurred by the city's new general plan.

The offices will provide enough room for over 1,200 employees of Samsung, which has already signed a lease for the building, said Ken Dupee, partner with developer TMG. "It is the most prestigious group at Samsung -- a top-notch group of engineers who will be doing innovative research out of this facility."

The building is designed to meet the highest standard for sustainability, LEED Platinum, and will use 40 percent less energy, 30 less water and produce 50 percent less waste than average office buildings.

"This will be one of the first projects we're aware of that has achieved LEED platinum -- at this scale for office projects -- in the valley," Dupee said.

The size and density is also unprecedented for Mountain View's office parks, with a 1.0 floor area ratio. A 0.3 ratio was more typical of the city's office buildings. The city's general plan allows it in exchange for elements of "highly sustainable development."

For this project, those elements include bike lanes on Clyde and Logue Avenues, filling sidewalk gaps on Clyde Avenue, free transit passes for employees, secure bike parking, showers, a cafeteria and a "last mile" shuttle system to and from the downtown Caltrain station and the nearby light rail station on Middlefield Road. The shuttles will be publicly accessible "for anyone who finds it convenient to ride" and will run every 20 minutes during peak hours.

The shuttle system is expected to grow as other companies in the area -- including Google -- are invited to join a Transit Management Agency.

"The TMA is open to anyone who wants to ride it," Dupee said. "There are no fees collected, no fare, no ID or pass required." All that is required is "if the bus stops and people will get on it."

The shuttles are important because the building's owners must keep 20 percent of the employees out of cars, or face a $100,000 fine, according to the city's conditions for the project. Council members did not go with lower incremental fines proposed by the developer.

The project also includes 1,165 parking spaces and a pair of six-level parking garages, hidden mostly by trees from the neighboring Sunnyvale golf course.

"What I'm worried about is 1,000 additional cars in the city every day," said Council member Jac Siegel. "And there are multiple projects like this going on."

Before voting to approve it, Siegel noted that such projects are behind the ongoing "gentrification of the city" by tech workers willing to pay more for housing near their jobs. The project brings in "well-educated people, which is good," Siegel said, but "it's going to push out lower income people."

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