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Patagonia first in nation to get green-building tax break

NNBW staff

The expanded Patagonia Inc. distribution center in Reno often praised as a model of energy efficiency last week received some dollars to go along with the kind words.

The outdoor apparel manufacturer became the first company in the nation to receive state development incentives for an environmentally conscious project.

The Nevada Commission on Economic Development approved a property tax break abating 50 percent of the company’s real estate taxes during the next 10 years for the 171,000-square-foot expansion project in west Reno.

It’s the first time the commission has OK’d tax breaks for a project that meets “green building” standards. The tax breaks were developed by the State Legislature in 2005, and Nevada is one of two states that offer the incentives.

Earlier, Patagonia received $25,000 from Sierra Pacific Power’s “Sure Bet” program, which pays companies to invest in energy-efficient equipment.

The distribution center has met the requirements for gold-level designation under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED, for short program created by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Only buildings that meet LEED standards qualify for the property tax break in Nevada. The Patagonia distribution center is the first statewide to reach the gold standard, the second-highest possible under the LEED program.

Among the environmentally conscious steps taken as part of the development:

* Water-smart landscaping that uses native plants. The company estimates water usage will be reduced 42 percent through steps that also include low-water-use restroom fixtures.

* Installation of high-efficiency boilers for a radiant heat system.

* Tight controls to reduce the amount of construction waste and ensure the use of recycled products whenever possible. Some 93 percent of the construction waste was recycled.

* Installation of skylights that track the sun, reducing the reliance on electric lighting.

The architect for the project was Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects of Reno. Trammell Crow Construction was the general contractor.

“We realize the upfront costs are a bit more, but in the long run, we’ll recoup our investment and be true to our mission of reducing our impact on the earth,” said Dave Abeloe, director of the distribution center.

Along with the savings from the tax incentives and the Sierra Pacific grant, Patagonia also expects the operating costs of the distribution center will be lower.

The company says energy use is projected to be 47 percent lower than comparable traditional distribution centers.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, which helped shepherd Patagonia’s application for tax breaks, said the company is a model for the sorts of employers it hopes to attract to the region.

“Companies that benefit the community by conserving natural resources contribute to the sustainable quality of life in the region,” said Jason Geddes, manager of government affairs for EDAWN.