by Jodi Summers
Global Property Guide has put together a list of the most attractive
property investment destinations across the world. Their research team
has ranked 77 of the world’s largest cities according to the average
gross rental yields.
The top 10 destinations are dominated by Asian cities, with Jakarta,
Kuala Lumpur and Manila all making the list.
Edited by Jodi Summers
An engineering school has published a list of what they consider to be the 50 greenest buildings in the world – and the Alamaden Tower in San Jose wins! A SoCal property came in fourth – the Robert Redford Building, home of the Natural Resources Defense Council 1314 2nd Street in Santa Monica comes in fourth. The school – Top Online Engineering Degree, does not that “Greenest is, of course, always a highly subjective and nebulous term.”
As there is no international green building code, http://toponlineengineeringdegree.com, they ask that you not consider this a definitive compilation of the latest and greatest in environmentally-friendly architecture, but rather a brief overview of some highlights instead.
1. Alamaden Tower
Location: San Jose, California, USA
Achieved platinum rating on Dec. 1, 2006
Adobe Systems is the first organization to have three platinum-rated buildings–including the Almaden Tower, pictured here–and it’s the only major corporation to have any buildings on the list. Since it started converting the buildings in 2001, Adobe has seen a 115% savings on its water and utility bills.
2. India Tower
Location: Mumbai, India
Once the construction team puts the final touches on India Tower and officially opens its doors in 2010, it will be considered amongst the tallest, greenest building in the country.
3. William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
Although initially built up to LEED’s silver level certification standards, the combined forces and finances of Powers of Arkansas, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and The Leonardo Academy renovated it up to platinum.
4. Robert Redford Building
Location: Santa Monica, California
Home of the Natural Resources Defense Council
CNN states that at the Robert Redford Building toilets flush themselves with rainwater — except for the urinals, which use no water at all — the floors are made of bamboo and the carpets from hemp.
5. RIT’s University Services Center
Location: Rochester, New York, USA
Sustainability highlights from the University Services Center’s operation include:
•48.6 percent energy cost reduction over industry standards for heating and cooling efficiency
•43 percent reduction in water usage over national requirements for fixture performance
•35 percent of the building’s electricity is supplied from renewable sources, including on-site solar photovoltaic panels
•33 percent recycled content of materials used in facility’s operation
6. Philip Merrill Environmental Center
Location: Annapolis, Maryland, USA
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation makes its headquarters here and includes some interesting green features such as composting toilets, bioretention, and natural lighting – among others…
7. United States Green Building Council
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Surely, you’d expect those who administer the certifications themselves strive for the highest possible level of achievement as a way of setting an example.
8. Tahoe Center
Location: Incline Village, Nevada, USA
Tahoe Center serves as one of only five platinum-certified science laboratories in the world, playing host to the University of California Davis Environmental Research department.
9. Cundall Sydney Office Fitout
Location: St. Leonard’s, New South Wales, Australia
Engineering firm Cundall obtained the first LEED-certified platinum honor for their office fitout as the first in the Southern hemisphere.
10. East and West Towers
Location: San Jose, California, USA
Another Adobe Systems venture, Forbes states that this building sports state of the art irrigation in perfect tune with nearby weather stations.
And there are 40 more to learn about…Get the whole list @ http://toponlineengineeringdegree.com/?page_id=122
By Jodi Summers
Bravo to us! California has adopted the greenest building standards in the United States…and the world.
The new code, called Calgreen, goes into effect next January 2011. It requires all builders to:
v Install plumbing that cuts indoor water use.
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, said the new building code would require developers to slash water use in their buildings by 20%, using more efficient toilets, shower heads and faucets.
v Divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills to recycling.
v Use low-pollutant paints, carpets and floorings
v Buildings will be given certificates of occupancy occupied only after strict energy standards were verified.
In addition, for non residential buildings:
v Install separate water meters for different uses.
v Mandates the inspection of energy systems by local officials to ensure that heaters, air conditioners and other mechanical equipment in nonresidential buildings are working efficiently.
v It allows local jurisdictions, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, to retain their stricter existing green building standards, or adopt more stringent versions of the state code if they choose.
“California should be proud… These are simple, cost-effective green practices. …” notes Tom Sheehy, acting secretary of the state Consumer Services Agency and chair of the California Building Standards Commission, which approved the standards. “This is (something) no other state in the country has done – integrating green construction practices into the very fabric of the construction code.”
While California’s largest metropolitan areas have adopted their own green building standards, these new regulations will be particularly useful for smaller jurisdictions that have been unable to develop their own green construction guidelines.
This is a positive alternative to LEED construction standards. Sites Sandra Boyle, an executive vice president of Glenborough, a developer, “The cost for owners to go through this rating system is astronomical — in a very challenging commercial real estate market.”
“You will have a whole bunch of cities that never would have included this in their building doing it, and doing it in a way that won’t kill the economy,” observes Matthew Hargrove, a vice president with the California Business Properties Association. “Outside the coastal areas it will be helpful – like in West Sacramento, where they looked into creating a green building code but balked because it’s cumbersome to develop and they didn’t have the resources.”
Buildings currently account for about one-quarter of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions. These new standards are applauded as an important step in helping California meet its goal in reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.
Edited by Jodi Summers
Every year, Yale University releases an Environmental Performance Index (EPI), calculating national environmental factors such as a country’s environmental health, air pollution, water resources and productive natural resources. So let us present to you the most recent top 10 winning countries who can boast the title of the most eco-friendly nations in the world.
1 – Switzerland
Switzerland’s hard-line legislation on pollution makes it one of the world’s most eco-friendly nations. Switzerland’s strategy is to continue to foster cooperation between organizations and individuals. To make sure everyone is acutely aware of how precious the environment can be, Switzerland charges for their water and waste management services as well as establishing severe environmental taxes. Prevention is the third key tenet, shown by the 2006 development of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), to sustain natural resources and develop safety measures for natural hazards.
2 – Norway
Overcast Norway is the home of the world’s largest solar production plant, owned by REC Group. Norway has also taken emissions seriously, and is now planning on becoming carbon neutral by 2030, not 2050 as originally expected. The change in anticipated timing has been reduced because of what Norway has learned by funding green projects abroad and reducing at-home driving and flying.
3 – Sweden
Sweden’s mandate for a country free of fossil fuels by 2020 puts it as the third most eco-friendly country on the planet. Already, a majority of Sweden’s power is either nuclear or hydroelectric. Solutions for automobile and flight transport include ethanol and animal waste conversion. Additionally, Sweden is one of the world leaders working on harnessing the power of waves. At the University of Uppsala, Sweden is developing “wave power” which converts waves into 4x as much energy as solar power in the same amount of time, with no waste and no emissions.
4 – Finland
Finland is experiencing a remarkable recovery from industrialization, using initiatives to clean up water and air quality in industrial areas, and practicing land preservation. Bravo as Finland has managed to reverse deforestation. The country’s forests are now growing at a greater rate than they are being deforested, showing an environmental gain even with the annual timber harvest. Finland can also be attributed with starting the United Nation’s Environmental Program (UNEP) Task Force for Sustainable Building and Construction, which looks not only at the sustainability of the building, but of the resources and process used to construct it.
5 – Costa Rica
With 5% of the world’s biodiversity contained in one country, Costa Rica has always been on the forefront of environmental conservation. Did you know that a full quarter of the nation is devoted to park preservation? That helps the country score high on the EPI list. Couple their conservation efforts with the fact that Costa Rica uses hydroelectric power in 80% of the country, and add on their 5% gas tax which funds environmental programs, and Costa Rica comes in fifth.
6 – Austria
It’s very impressive that Austria’s environmental conservation measures are enforced by all levels of government, from federal to municipal authorities. For example, waste disposal is a highly regulated department encompassing everything from individual waste to corporate chemical, air and agricultural pesticide pollution. Water quality and forest preservation, are extremely high on Austria’s list of priorities, thus the quality level for Austria’s lakes and rivers is among the highest in the world. The development of Austria’s National Protective Forest Plan has also helped in keeping the nation’s natural beauty pristine.
7 – New Zealand
New Zealand‘s relatively small population in relation to land mass has helped preserve this nation’s natural resources. While automotive emissions and industrial pollutants are still problematic, New Zealand is working hard to develop restrictive legislation and alternative energy sources. The nation was host to the 2008 World Environment Day, and has developed the Environmental Risk Management Authority, which regulates the introduction of non-native species and environmental components so as not to threaten New Zealand’s pristine atmosphere.
8 – Latvia
The Baltics weigh in. By monitoring and reducing water pollution, Latvia’s salmon crop and freshwater bodies are all in the range of “good.” Taken steps toward improvement, Lativia has begun dismantling pollutive farms to reduce fertilizer and insecticide chemicals and allow room for the return of natural forests. Since obtaining freedom from the Soviet Union 1990, Lativa has decreased stationary pollution by 46% and wastewater by 44%, devoting a major portion of environmental funds to water treatment and energy conservation techniques.
9 – Colombia
Beating Costa Rica, Colombia is home to 10% of the world’s species, giving the country a wealth of ecological diversity. While Colombia has had problems in the past concerning deforestation, the detrimental effects of the coca trade, and political strife involving their natural oil deposits, these factors have served to motivate Colombia towards energy conservation and new, less politically tumultuous resources. Colombia has also begun programs for the cultivation of natural parks that support the growth of native medicinal plants with preserves such as the Orito Igni-Ande Medicinal Flora Sanctuary, a 10,626 hectare preserve.
10 – France
The French government is very aware of the problem of climate change. Their strict environmental protection measures are incorporated into the national Constitution and reviewed every year with the eventual goal of 54 million tons of saved C02 by 2010. France is one of the few in the Kyoto agreement to cut such a large amount of emissions so quickly. The country’s laws are comprehensive, covering every layer of production from supplier to producer to consumer. This has helped make France the number one producer of renewable energy sources in the EU, 78% of its energy being nuclear powered, which in turn has reduced nitrogen oxide and other hazardous emissions by 70%.
By Jodi Summers
It’s no secret that office space in Los Angeles has taken a huge hit. Take comfort in knowing we are not alone. Vacancy rates rose as demand fell, and rents followed. Globally office market rents decreased by 10%, the last time prices fell all around the world was 2003. What made this office downtown unique, according to a recent report Cushman & Wakefield, was that. “no market escaped and rents were down in every region; a trend not previously seen.”
Globally, Asia Pacific recorded the steepest decline year on year, with rents falling on average by 16%. Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo recorded falls of 45%, 35%
and 21% respectively, but they weren’t the worst locations. Ho Chi Minh City saw the largest compression in rents with a fall of 53%.
In terms of rental performance the America saw rents decline by 7% during 2009. South America saw rental levels move down by 5%, while in North America they fell further, by 8%. Midtown Manhattan remained the most expensive office location in the Americas region during 2009, but rents dropped 4% over the year. Thanks to rising exchange rates, the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo became the second and third most expensive locations in the Americas, surpassing the cities previously in second and third place Boston and New York (Downtown).
Los Angeles did not fare nearly as well year as occupier demand slowed and vacancy levels increased. We saw lease rates drop 16%, averaging $51.68 per square foot annually. Our economic recovery is so fresh; rents will still remain low for the first half of this year, but should start to improve in the third quarter.
Overall, North American rental performance was more uniform with Canada, US and Mexico easing down by between 2% and 14% in 2009.
On a more optimistic note, South America and the Middle East & Africa showed the best performance in terms of rents, recording rental falls of 5% respectively. Argentina was the only South American country to record double digit falls.
The great irony comes in South Africa, which actually saw rising lease rates. South Africa supported regional performance in the Middle East & Africa.
Western Europe recorded an annual decline of 11%, but was peppered by more series declines in some major areas. Madrid, Central London, Dublin and Oslo recorded rental declines in excess of 20%, as these markets were particularly hard hit from the fallout of the financial crisis. Office rents in Central & Eastern Europe did not hold up nearly as well, with many cities recording rental declines of more than 20% – Kyiv and Moscow were the hardest hit. Kyiv fell a whopping 52% while Moscow lease rates dropped 33%.
The top three most expensive locations remained constant, Tokyo was ranked number one in the world, while London West End moved into second place. Hong Kong fell
from first to third position.
And now, good news – most global economies are expected to see positive GDP growth in 2010. Globally, rents are anticipated to reach their low point by midyear. Tenants will still retain the upper hand as vacancy rates remain high and demand remains low.
Of course, the recovery will vary from region to region and from city to city. Expect stabilization in the final quarter.
GREENING BUILDINGS THE EASY WAY – THE ICC GREEN BUILDING OVERLAY
By Jodi Summers
More green building codes anyone? Sure, there are already several green building codes in use today – LEED, Energy Star, NAHB Green, Green Globes, BREEM and the latest, and perhaps most practical to join the crowd is ICC – the of International Code Council.
FYI, you’ve walked through hundreds of International Code Council respecting properties. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt building codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council. As the ICC already has such a huge fan base, they’ve decided to have their input into green building codes > a.k.a. IGCC.
The objective of this new project is to develop a Green Building Code for traditional and high-performance buildings that is consistent and coordinated with the ICC family of Codes and Standards.
“Congratulations on taking such an important step to ensure the creation of such a code system. We are pleased to support this effort in any way possible,” USGBC President Richard Fedrizzi stated publicly, throwing in a compliment to the Code Council for “undertaking a collaborative approach to this important work.”
A bit of insight: the International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools.
Being the progressive state that we are, California, has already adopted a green building code, which is incorporated into the template the ICC has come up with for the rest of the country.
“California continues to lead the nation and I commend the hard work of the Building Standards Commission to adopt the first-in-the-nation statewide green building standards,” proudly observed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The objective of the ICC code will be to raise the bottom line, giving all buildings a greener baseline. LEED, in contrast, is a bolder standard, providing innovative and more challenging ways to reduce green house gas emissions, materials usage, enhance energy efficiency, and all other good green things.
An ICC green code will make politicians, building inspectors and code officials comfortable with adopting and utilizing I-Codes as the basis for building regulations. By adopting an ICC code and augmenting it with what some of the greener cities like Santa Monica, Berkeley, Sacramento and West Hollywood are doing, municipalities will not have to reinvent the code wheel when looking to implement green building practices.
Wisely, the ICC Green Building Code is an overlay that can integrate with the I-codes that already exist in most jurisdictions.
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