La Jolla, CA is known for the natural beauty of its groves of native Torrey Pine trees, which line the coast of the seaside city near San Diego. But when the new La Jolla Commons Tower is complete in mid-2014, the city will also be known for a significant man-made "green structure."

Last week international real estate firm, Hines, along with equity partner J.P. Morgan Asset Management, announced that their new 13-story, 415,000-sq-ft building under construction at La Jolla Commons will become the nation’s largest carbon-neutral office building to date.

The structure will achieve carbon neutrality on an annual basis through a combination of high-performance building design, directed biogas and on-site fuel cells that project officials say will generate more electricity annually than the building and tenants will use. While there are numerous other small net-zero buildings around, this tower represents the largest and most ambitious in the office for-lease category.

Construction on the tower began in April 2012 and completion is scheduled for mid-2014. It was designed by AECOM of Los Angeles and is being built by San Diego office of Whiting-Turner Contracting.

The building design incorporates a highly efficient under-floor air system, advanced curtain wall materials and many other features that reduce the energy required to operate the building. The Bloom Energy fuel cells will generate approximately 5.0 million KWh of electricity annually, which project officials say is above what the building will consume. Hines says that total on-site energy production will be roughly equivalent to generating the electricity required to power 1,000 San Diego homes.

The fuel cells convert methane into electricity in a non-combustion process. Hines says the methane for the system will come from carbon-neutral sources, such as landfills and wastewater plants. The system, which was created by Hines and leading engineering firm WSP Flack + Kurtz, will contribute to California’s goal of deriving a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

LPL Financial at La Jolla Commons is one further step in our objective to put new building strategies and technologies into practice in an economically viable way, using our experience to continually reset our own standards of quality. First and foremost, we designed a Class A, commercially viable property, then we devised strategies to make it net-zero,” said Hines President and CEO Jeff Hines.

Houston-based Hines says the building will be fully leased and occupied by LPL Financial, LLC, one of the nation’s largest independent broker-dealers. The project is being developed and will be owned by a partnership of Hines and institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.