Houston's office market has the highest vacancy rate in the country, making it an interesting time to debut a brand-new skyscraper downtown. But 609 Main at Texas, the newest in a string of towers by local developer Hines, opened last week with 60 percent of the more-than 1 million-square-feet building spoken for. Tenants include several law firms, as well as United Airlines, which has taken several floors in the building and has private access to a roof deck for its employees. 

The building has cachet not only because of its posh finishes, including ornate granite slabs that resemble paintings, but for something much less sexy — its air conditioning system. 609 Main's AC is pumped through the floor at a much lower pressure than a typical overhead system, which allows for individual customization, and yes, that means each coworker, including the one who is always wearing a parka inside, can adjust the temperature for themselves.

It's also a much more efficient system, bringing down energy bills for the tenants and lessening its impact on the environment. The fancy system, which Hines senior managing director John Mooz says will become a future industry standard, added $10 million to the developer's cost.

 

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