After 42 years at its Chorro Street offices, the SLO Chamber made the move Monday to its new home in the historic Paiarola building at 895 Monterey St. on the corner of Morro Street.

Following Monday’s move, the Chamber administrative office and Visitor Center opened for business on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

“We are tremendously excited about our new Chamber home,” SLO Chamber President and CEO Ermina Karim said. “This historic move and critical reinvestment in Chamber operations and the Visitor Center will continue to elevate the standard of service we can deliver to our local business community, residents and visitors. This facility will serve the business community long into the future.”

A special grand opening celebration for the space is being planned for April.

The Monterey Street location features a 30 percent larger Visitor Center, expanding to 648 square feet, and offers a modern design to showcase the region’s assets with new technologies, wireless internet and more space for local merchandise.

In addition, a new corner neon-lit sign, designed with historic context, will be constructed and mounted later this spring to welcome residents and visitors. The sign is sponsored by the Promotional Coordinating Committee of the City of SLO.

The administrative offices feature a newly-designed open floor plan, enabling a more efficient and collaborative workspace while facilitating a smaller overall footprint of 3,316 square feet, down by more than 1,500 square feet. The ground floor administrative offices, which are fully accessible, also feature a larger member meeting space and more up-to-date technology.

“This new location will allow the Chamber to better serve its extensive membership and volunteer base,” said 2013 Board Chair Kris Yetter, president of Promega Biosciences. “It’s a beautiful and far more operationally efficient location that can showcase the breadth and depth of the local business community and drive more business to our members.”

In addition, the tenant improvements have been designed to be environmentally sustainable. With assistance from a grant provided by Pacific Gas & Electric Company to Leadership San Luis Obispo, the interior design, materials and construction process were all pursued to minimize the environmental impacts and enhance operational efficiencies long into the future.

The grant dollars have also allowed the Chamber to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for commercial interiors which specify sustainable targets in the areas of water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. If successful, the Chamber would be one of only a handful of office spaces in the County and one of the only chambers of commerce in the nation to achieve this respected, third-party designation.

Key design and construction improvements include:
•    Over 80 percent of the construction waste was diverted from landfills
•    Optimized energy performance, beating California standards by 33 percent
•    100 percent of energy is generated or purchased from renewable sources
•    All low emitting materials including adhesives, paints and flooring utilized throughout
•    More than 40 percent of the furniture is being reused and 16 percent of materials are recycled
•    More than 40 percent of the materials are regionally manufactured, and an additional 25 percent of the materials are regionally manufactured with locally harvested or extracted materials
•    Water efficiency methods to reduce water use by 23 percent
•    80 percent of the appliances and equipment  are Energy Star
•    Green cleaning policies and service
•    Green building education display to share the benefits with visitors
•    Numerous measures to ensure high indoor air quality throughout construction

“The new Chamber offices will model for local small businesses and organizations the long-term financial, operational, environmental and workplace benefits of sustainable choices,” said Karim. “We will also have the opportunity to share these lessons with the 70,000-plus visitors who come in person to the Visitor Center each year and send a message about our broader community values.”

The permanent relocation is the culmination of seven months of intense planning, design and construction work, which was originally prompted due to scheduled seismic retrofit work planned for the 1039-1041 Chorro St. location.