As Kermit the Frog knew, it’s not easy being green, and based on the cost of a new wing of City Hall, it’s not cheap either.

Council approved an additional $17.6 million for the new City Services Building at their May 24 meeting, bringing the total of the proposed structure to $74.5 million. Staff said a countywide construction boom and the use of cutting edge technology are the primary culprits for the cost increase, but the building could help the city save about $3 million per year in current lease costs.

The proposed 50,000 square foot addition to City Hall would be built between the current building and the Public Safety Facility. City staff currently housed in leased offices will be combined in the new wing, reducing ongoing costs and improving customer service by locating similar services in a central location.

Current leases cost City Hall about $2 million per year with costs expected to increase by 3-5 percent per year.

“The project would save the City money over time by eliminating expensive leased spaces housing staff in various locations and relocating 239 staff to a new building immediately adjacent to City Hall, thereby creating a City Hall campus resulting in a more centralized and efficient customer experience,” said the staff report.

Staff is aiming for a Living Building Certification, considered the highest and most stringent sustainability classification. To achieve the goal, the building aims to produce its own power and use no more water than is provided by annual rainfall.

Power production will be provided by solar panels on the roof of the new building, on City Hall itself and over a nearby parking lot. In addition, the building is designed with low energy features, most significantly an environmental system that will keep internal temperatures between 70-78 degrees using natural ventilation and a radiant heat/cool slab. In times of extreme heat or cold, a traditional air conditioning system will be available.

To reduce water use, the building will use composting toilets and will have a rainwater catchment system installed. It’s possible the building could utilize it’s own well to mitigate drought conditions.

The high tech systems, combined with a booming construction market in the Los Angeles area, have driven up the price since project inception. Construction costs, plus some necessary changes to existing buildings, will be funded through $74,471,629 in lease revenue bonds. 

“Initially, debt service and other costs related to building ownership would exceed savings by approximately $3.2 to $3.4 million a year. This cost would steadily decrease until lease savings would equal or exceed the cost of debt service and building maintenance,” said the report.

Staff said the building would break even in 18-27 years based on lease rates.

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