March 2023 — Office & Industrial Quarterly — Page 19 March 2023 I n July 2022, The Opus Group announced plans for Sun Empire in Aurora, Denver’s air- port submarket. At 3.9 million square feet, it is a significant project for our team. Sitework is underway on the 316-acre site, and our teams are also busy planning for the development’s sustainable features with a goal of Leader- ship in Energy and Environmental Design certification for the campus. Sun Empire is 3 miles from Den- ver International Airport, with direct access to E-470 and Inter- state 70. Construction of the ini- tial phase – two buildings totaling approximately 829,000 sf – started in September. The project is a joint venture between Opus and Principal Real Estate Investors. The master plan for Sun Empire includes speculative buildings rang- ing from 200,000 to 625,000 sf, with the ability to expand to 1 million sf. This initial phase of Sun Empire is expected to be complete in late 2023. We recognize that commercial buildings and their development can have an impact on the environ- ment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and use of raw materials. Our portfolio today includes 18.4 million square feet of green projects, including 61 LEED certified buildings totaling more than 16.7 million sf. Interest in sustainability is increasing among real estate inves- tors, tenants, our employees and the public. Each of our projects incorporates sustainable elements to some degree – from skylights for daylighting, selecting urban infill sites, use of renew- able materials in construction, and recycling of con- struction waste, to occupant health and safety. Sun Empire is incor- porating the fol- lowing elements to ensure both a high-quality devel- opment and one that lessens envi- ronmental impact and improves pub- lic benefits. n Master campus planning. Given that this is a multibuilding, large- acreage site, our goal is to create a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing project through the use of urban, architectural and landscape stan- dards that ensure both high quality and strong design, which will set the theme for the overall campus. n Architectural standards. These include material and color palettes, and modern architecture styles using clean lines and a connec- tion to the outdoor environment. Design elements will eliminate long stretches of blank walls and will include landscape screening for loading doors and other operations. Without knowing specific tenants needs, it is important for the archi- tecture of spec industrial buildings to be flexible and appeal to a wide variety of industrial uses while fit- ting into a cohesive campus archi- tecture. n Urban design standards. Sun Empire will include wayfinding signs with a similar aesthetic, uni- form sign standards, and standards for retaining walls, fencing, lighting, paving and site furniture. n Light pollution reduction. Mea- sures here benefit the environment by increasing night sky access, improving nighttime visibility and reducing the consequences of development for wildlife and people. Sun Empire will use exte- rior lighting that meets backlight, uplight and glare ratings. n Heat island reduction. Measures include roofing materials with high Solarw Reflectance Index and light- colored paving with a high SR value. n Recreational and cultural improvements. The project will expand a regional trail corridor, and include natural landscaping and opportunities for recreation. The Second Creek Greenway Trail will be a public asset along the north- eastern portion of the site and will include a public art installation. The public art plan will be implemented after completion of the trail, which is planned for the first phase of construction. n Materials and resources. Sun Empire includes a sitewide collec- tion and waste removal plan and storage and collection of recyclables for each building and tenant. n Outdoor and indoor water use reduction. The development has a 30% reduction goal for outdoor water use, with all plants being native or drought tolerant, and water-efficient irrigation. The proj- ect goal for indoor water use reduc- tion is 20%. n Stormwater management. The project site is located on the Sec- ond Creek drainageway, which will be improved in terms of flood mitigation. The creek path will also be modified to a more natural, meandering design to reduce water flow and erosion during large rain events. n Building orientation. Buildings will be oriented predominantly in a south-to-north direction, placing all entries or docks on either the east or west. This orientation accommo- dates for winter months when the sun in the Northern Hemisphere causes the north side of buildings to be shaded, which creates ice and snow buildup. n Indoor environmental air quality. Plans include enhanced ventilation, tobacco control and low-emitting materials. Sun Empire development targets high-quality design, sustainability Dean Newins, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB President and CEO, Opus AE Group, LLC Please see Sustainability, Page 31 Industrial uses at Sun Empire include storage, distribution, warehousing, production, processing and fabrication. Entry monument signs will reflect stan- dards for wayfinding, part of the proj- ect’s overall urban design standards.