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City's first pre-certified LEED platinum building gets anchor tenant, early 2012 groundbreaking

2.0 University Place, a new five-story office building is about to spring up at 41st and Filbert St, feeding off of the University City Science Center’s revitalization of Market St. The community won’t have to wait long, as the groundbreaking will likely come in January or February of next year. The real story behind University Place will be its impressive sustainability elements, which combine to make it Philadelphia’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum pre-certified building. Platinum is the highest status in the United States Green Building Council’s LEED program.

Scott Mazo, a partner with the development firm University Place Associates, beams when he discusses his forthcoming building’s green technology. For one thing, all 96,135 square feet of tenant space will stay temperate with a "state of the art heating and air conditioning system called chilled-beam mechanical systems," says Mazo. Very few buildings currently use chilled-beam technology, although NASA and Harvard and Stamford Universities have experimented with it. These innovators found energy savings of 30-45% with a chilled-beam system. 

To complement the heating and air conditioning technology, 2.0 University Place will also feature other energy saving techniques. Mazo is proud that the building will be cloaked in energy efficient glass, which will block the sun’s radiant heat in the summer, but attract radiant heat in the winter. This will abate the need for heating and air conditioning. Mazo also reveals that the building will utilize environmentally intelligent elevators, which will capture and re-use energy.

Rainwater filtration and transportation are two other important sustainability components for University Place. The space will be accentuated with a garden on the roof, which will collect rainwater that will eventually be recycled as graywater for the building’s toilets. Mazo lauds the building’s location as a perk to workers who ride mass transit. This development is the "epitome of transit-oriented development," says Mazo. The building is convenient to the Market-Frankford Line’s 40th St. Station and SEPTA buses. The building should also contain shower facilities for bicyclists.

While University Place Associates bared their aspirations for the currently empty lot at 41st and Filbert Sts. a couple of years ago, the stagnant economy delayed any hope of construction. Yet, plans to break ground on 2.0 University Place jolted into motion a few weeks ago when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced they would relocate to the building. This gave Mazo the anchor tenant that he and his associates needed to proceed. "The USCIS was the catalyst that made groundbreaking possible," says the developer.

In terms of attracting other tenants, Mazo says his firm is in talks with two prospective companies. While he’s bound by confidentiality in discussing who’s interested in moving into University Place, he does say that he’s interested in drawing in technology and life science companies, along with socially responsible start-ups. They would fit right in with the expanding Science Center and universities nearby. 

Source: Scott Mazo, University Place Associates
Writer: Andy Sharpe
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