By Jodi Summers
When creating office space, use a fresh approach. Google’s idea for their new space on Main St. Venice, puts the user first. For the same reason Google chose one of the most unique building in one of the hippest locations in the country for their office space > 340 Main St., Venice, 90291 > in hopes of luring the best talent. They’ve taken the same approach to their office space in the Binoculars building > make it a user-friendly experience.
Google’s goal (try saying that 5x fast) is to create the healthiest work environments possible so Google masterminds can thrive and innovate. From concept through design, construction and operations, the search engine’s goal is to create a brick + mortar workplace that optimizing access to nature, clean air and daylight. The great thing about is happens to be is what’s good for Google is good for the neighborhood.
Let’s explore how the fabric of Main St. is going to change for a better non-car experience…Thomas Williams, Google’s Venice office director, recently attended a Venice Neighborhood Council meeting and shared the info that about 450 engineers will move into space @ 340 Main Street in early November. He also pledged that the company will have a positive impact on the community.
“Generally, they are fairly young, they like computers, and they are really smart,” Williams shared.
At the same meeting, the VNC approved a motion that is also of interest to Main St. Santa Monica. They approved the “Main Street Diet,” a plan to change the configuration of Main Street by adding bike lanes, reducing traffic lanes and adding a center median. These bike tracks are also being discussed in Santa Monica’s bicycle action plan.
It is expected that approximately one-third of the company’s employees bike, walk or take public transportation to work. “A lot of people are happy because they are going to be able to walk to work now,” Williams said. All 450 of the people who will be relocating to the Venice office currently work in Google’s local offices.
Google is well-known for its support of bike commuters – Venice has a large number of bikers and surprisingly little support for them in the North-South directions. Perhaps now we will develop plans for bike lanes and street lights through the long, dark stretches along Main Street.
WeLoveVenice.com noted that this is a huge potential win for locals. They are hoping that Google will bring more logical bus routes, such as from Washington Blvd. to downtown Santa Monica. As well as other innovative routes from Santa Monica’s Big Blue and Culver City buses that run throughout Venice without it being necessary to walk a mile to Windward Circle to catch one.
Anything to make Main St. more pedestrian friendly is a good thing and a nice step to greening the neighborhood….
Cut the expenses on your commercial property. Building performance tracking promises continuous improvement for every building. Even a building constructed to the most exacting environmental standards needs to be operated and maintained properly to perform as designed. By employing a strategy to monitor and improve the energy and system operation of commercial buildings, building performance tracking is the first step in seeing operating costs fall, asset values grow, and market differentiation improve.
“The Building Performance Tracking Handbook” was developed by the California Commissioning Collaborative with funding from the state’s Energy Commission and can be applied to commercial buildings throughout the country. It allows operators to understand how their buildings are running and improve standard operating procedures and energy usage for a building.
“The Building Performance Handbook” outlines the steps needed to continually manage building performance, demystifies the complex array of building performance tracking tools available, and provides guidance on selecting the most appropriate tracking strategy.
There are four elements to performance tracking:
• Collect data and track the performance of the HVAC and lighting systems, plus energy use data.
• Identify performance problems.
• Diagnose problems and identify solutions.
• Fix problems and verify results.
To help facility managers build a business case, the handbook identifies a range of benefits from performance tracking, including enhanced occupant satisfaction, reduced energy costs and increased property values.
Building Owners, managers, and engineers will find this handbook valuable, whether they are just embarking on a formal performance tracking approach, or are looking to take their existing strategies to the next level.
The Handbook, endorsed by BOMA California’s Energy Committee, is the outcome of research funded by the California Energy Commission, under a project managed by the non-profit California Commissioning Collaborative. The handbook was written by PECI, a non-profit organization devoted to energy efficiency.
Download a copy of the manual @ http://cacx.org/PIER/documents/bpt-handbook.pdf.
Didja know? The energy to operate commercial buildings costs about $200 billion every year. ..and furthermore… on average, 30% of this energy is wasted. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge aims to engage building operators nationwide in improving energy efficiency by 20% by 2020.
>> The brilliant part of this initiative, announced by President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, is that it was been achieved through strategic partnership and does not require the approval of the Republican Congress.
“Upgrading the energy efficiency of America’s buildings is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save money, cut down on harmful pollution, and create good jobs right now,” observed President Obama. “But we can’t wait for Congress to act. So today, I’m directing all federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next 2 years – at no up-front cost to the taxpayer. Coupled with today’s extraordinary private sector commitments of $2 billion to upgrade businesses, factories, and military housing, America is taking another big step towards the competitive, clean energy economy it will take to win the future.”
1.6 Billion Square Feet Committed
$2 Billion in Financing through Allies
+300 Manufacturing Facilities
The $4 billion challenge is the latest move the Obama administration has made as part of its “We Can’t Wait” campaign to bypass a deadlocked Congress and spur job creation, even as the President pushes lawmakers to pass a $447 billion jobs bill.
We’re proud to say that Los Angeles is one of an elite group of communities, companies, universities and organizations working to improve their bottom line by saving energy.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City of Los Angeles have launched the Los Angeles Commercial Building Performance Partnership to support development and financing of comprehensive energy efficiency and water efficiency upgrades in commercial buildings.
Los Angeles expects approximately 30 million square feet of commercial property to be audited, using $3.2 million in Recovery Act funds with the goal of driving at least $25 million in total investment during their partnership in the Better Buildings Challenge.
The initiative is part of the California Energy Commission’s Energy Upgrade California program, a statewide effort to roll out a network of utility-incentive packages, pilot innovative financing approaches.
Since June 2011 LA County has imitated energy audits for more than 25 million square feet of commercial space — from small neighborhood retailers to downtown skyscrapers. Additionally we are developing a directory of capital providers to facilitate access to project funding options.
“Investments in building retrofits and energy efficiency can make a real difference in the American economy, by creating jobs, growing our industries, improving businesses’ bottom lines, reducing our energy bills and consumption, and preserving our planet for future generations,” concludes President Clinton. “I am proud so many members of the Clinton Global Initiative have joined this Challenge. Working together, I am pleased the commitments to the BBC have grown from the initial $500 million and 300 million square feet that we announced in June at CGI America, to the $2 billion investment with over 1 billion square feet of retrofitted space.”
Bill Gunderson knows what rich people own. What they buy and sell. And what they pay in property taxes. As one of America’s top wealth managers, he’s seen it all.
And without a doubt, he says the easiest way for property owners to make money is to reassess the value of their homes to reduce property taxes.
“People all over America are paying way too much in property taxes,” Gunderson said. “And it is easy to see why: Property values have crashed, in many cases by 50% and more. But many are still paying taxes on the former value of their homes.”
The owner of a commercial building in Southern California, for example, recently received a property tax bill based on an assessed value of $2.6 million, But the property has been listed for half of that for almost a year — and still no takers.
“That person is paying tens of thousands a year too much,” Gunderson says. “In many states more.”
Many do not notice that because their property taxes are paid automatically as part of their mortgage payment. “It is the most expensive and common mistake I see,” Gunderson said. “And the most important and easiest to fix.”
Examples are easy to find. And easy to understand. But Gunderson says the real challenge is filing the application to have your assessment reduced. It is not that hard.
Some companies will charge you a few hundred dollars to perform this service, and that can be the most productive investment you will make all year.
In Utah, the deadline is 45 days after receipt of your assessment, which is mailed out in July. In California you have from Apil through the deadline of November 30.
But usually that is for taxes due next year. So if you have a bill based on an unrealistic assessment, you still have to pay that. Fair or not.
“That is ridiculous,” Gunderson said. “These property tax bills should go down automatically. But they don’t. So you have to pay attention and present evidence from comparable values or recent appraisals that show you property is over-valued.”
“It’s not that hard to do. You just download a form from your local tax assessor’s office then send it in.”
Even some of the big shot accountants for very wealthy people do not pay enough attention to this, Gunderson said. And it is not just for homes, it is also for commercial properties, rentals, and other tax-paying entities.
Gunderson is a frequent guest on national news and financial shows, including America Live with Megyn Kelly, America’s Nighty Scoreboard with David Asman, Bloomberg News, Barron’s, and dozens of others.
He is also the author of the Best Stocks Now app. “It is good to know all about earnings and stock reports and new products and other things that are important to an investment portfolio,” Gunderson said. “But making sure the county assessor has the correct value for your property is for many people found money, free money. But first you have to read your property tax bill and compare it to what your property is worth. The rest is easy.”
by Jodi Summers
Dilemma: High Water Bills
Solution Circa 1800-600 BC
Way back in 1800 BC. , an Egyptian pharaoh used a lake as a reservoir to store surplus rainfall for irrigation to support crops where rainfall wasn’t adequate.
Developers are finding success with rainwater harvesting. The simplest systems cost as little as $200 and can capture rainwater for landscaping. More expensive and complex systems can even create fresh drinking water.
Solution Circa Late 1800s
During the Victorian Era, light paint colors were used on building exteriors to reflect heat and reduce interior temperatures.
Products now exist to increase the energy efficiency of vinyl siding with insulation. Using insulation foam under vinyl siding or choosing a specialized siding that is already fused to a foam backing, these products provide an additional layer of insulation and moisture protection to the building envelope, which can dramatically slice heating and cooling costs.
Solution Circa 1900
More than a century ago homes were usually built with a front porch for residential and awnings for retail. These building details kept sun from beating through the windows, reducing heat and glare.
Window films are able to block up to 99% of UVA and UVB rays, as well as reducingheat and glare.
By Jodi Summers
In the future, big buildings are not going to be called skyscrapers, they’re going to be known as eco-towers. This new breed of buildings are utilizing green technologies on an entirely new scale. And, like the elliptical shape our new Marriott hotel downtown, they will not look like those box-shaped structures that have become familiar to world skylines. Let us share with you 10 of the world’s most unique green eco-towers;
1.The Bahrain World Trade Center Towers, Kingdom of Bahrain
There is a lot of land in developing nations, and space allows for tremendous innovation. The Bahrain World Trade Center, located in the capital city of Manama, is a 50-story eco-tower, the second tallest building in Bahrain, and the firstskyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines into its design. Bridges between the buildings house 3 96-foot suspended between the towers house propellers which supply the spires with over 1100 megawatts per year. These towers face north to capture the winds from the Persian Gulf, and the sail shape of the building was designed to to maximize the airflow for the jumbo blades. The “S” shape flow is ideal because it ensures that any wind coming within a 45 degree angle to either side will create a wind stream that is perpendicular to the turbines. These turbines are intended to provide 11% to 15% of the towers total power consumption.
2. The Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou, China
The China Green Building Council offers basic energy efficiency rules for building, and features a 5-star labeling system as a market-based incentive. The Pearl River Tower exemplifies China’s green push, as this eco-tower is designed to harness winds at lofty heights, using internal wind turbines for lighting. Fashioned like a giant wing, the tower pushes air through wind tunnels on two of the building’s 71 stories. Other green features on the Pearl River Tower include geothermal heat sinks, ventilated facades, waterless urinals, integrated photovoltaics and daylight responsive controls. The skyscraper has net zero energy goals, and anticipates generating enough power to meet its energy demands. Pearl River Tower is a self-sustaining, environmentally intelligent building that is a stunning new icon for the future of the region.
3. Bank of America Tower, New York City
The Bank of America Tower is Manhattan’s 2nd tallest building and 1st LEED Platinum eco-tower. The designers of, Cook + Fox Architects have incorporated rainwater capture and floor-to-ceiling windows for natural lighting, natural gas fuel cells for on-site electricity and sunlight-sensing LED lights maximize efficiency.
4.The Lighthouse Tower, Dubai
The Dubai International Financial Centre Lighthouse Tower incorporates 4,000 photovoltaic panels on the south facing facade as well as three mega 225 kilowatt wind turbines to meet its electricity needs.
Designed by the Atkins Group, the 66-floor Lighthouse Tower is designed to produce the smallest carbon footprint possible. It is structured as two separate towers connected by a bridge at level 10, and features numerous sky gardens. The tower hopes to reduce energy consumption by 65% and its water consumption by 40% when matched against similar structures.
5.The CIS Tower, Manchester England
The CIS Tower is the second-tallest building in Manchester, England. Measuring 387 feet tall, the glass roofed building is home to Co-operative Financial Services. The Tower was built in 1962, and is a fine example of green retrofitting. The new and improved CIS Tower may be considered the ultimate is solar, with more than 7,000 panels on the façade provide a weatherproof barrier, and generate about 390kW of power for the building. In total, 7,244 Sharp 80W modules are used to cover the entire service tower (but apparently only 4898 of these modules are “live” the others are “dummy modules”). Additionally, there are 24 wind turbines on the roof, and the ability to produce 10% of its energy needs.
The £5.5 million ($10.1 million) solar project was supported by a £885,000 (US$1.64 million) grant from the Northwest Regional Development Agency and a £175,000 (US$ 324,435) grant from the Department of Trade and Industry.
6. The Hearst Tower, New York City
The Hearst Tower was the first skyscraper in Manhattan to achieve LEED Gold accreditation. Built atop the existing Hearst building, this innovative addition hsed 80% of the steel was recycled, as well as the floors and ceiling tiles are made from recycled materials. Architect was Norman Foster designed a “diagrid” triangular framing pattern required fewer steel beams to achieve the same rigidity as a conventional skyscraper. Rainwater is collected on the roof and is funneled into a 14,000-gallon tank in the basement, and accounts for 50% of the tower’s usage. It’s pumped into the cooling system, used for irrigating plants in communal spaces called “sky gardens” and to power the 3-story waterfall which cools and humidifies the lobby air (like NYC needs more humidity). The building also boasts a smart elevator system, which retains memory and optimizes paths based on previous data, headcounts, and floor requests.
7.The Burj al-Taqa (Energy Tower), Dubai
Unlike most of the U.S. and Europe, Dubai has the issue of extreme heat. The Burj al-Taqa is 68-story super eco-tower has a cylindrical shape that is designed to expose as little surface area to the sun as possible, thanks to a façade built from a new generation of vacuum glazing. A protective solar shield reaches from the ground to the roof and covers 60% of the building. It protects the side most affected from the sun’s glaring rays, making sure that none of the rooms are exposed to direct sunlight. The remaining 40% of the structure has diffused light that is tempered by a mineral coating on the windows. This objective is to shield the building from outside heat, keeping the temperatures inside at a low, comfortable temperature.
“Such a building has to work like a thermos flask,” says DS-Plan’s energy manager Peter Mösle. “It has to have a cooling effect in the summer and retain heat in the winter.”
Burj al-Taqa also has a natural air conditioning system. Lateral openings in the towers suck in cool air like a chimney. The heavier cool air sinks downward, displacing the lighter air; therefore creating a temperature that is ideal for the working environment. Additional fresh air, cooled by sea water, is pumped into the interior of the building by means of a duct system at the same time. There are three large cooling units in the cellar of the skyscraper, also lowering the inside temperature.
Burj al-Taqa was modeled after ancient Persian architectural features. It is #22 on the list of the tallest buildings in the world thanks to the 200-foot wind turbine that will sit atop the building. The turbine, accompanied by two photovoltaic facilities produce the electricity to meet the needs of the building. Additional energy is provided by an island of solar panels that drift in the sea within viewing distance of the tower.
8.Waugh Thistleton Residential Tower, London
This eco-residential building employs 4 helical wind turbines attached to one side of the tower have the potential to generate 40,000kW hrs a year, more than 15% of its energy needs.
9. 340 on the Park, Chicago
If you have $700K to throw down on a 1,600 square-foot condo in this tower designed by archtiectural firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz, you can enjoy low utility bills thanks to the building’s fully insulated windows and rainwater capture system. The building was designed Post-Tensioning in order improve the floor-to-ceiling height for residents.There is also a multi-story winter garden starting on the 25th floor and it is connected to the Chicago pedway system. 340 on the Park is the first residential tower in the Mid-West America to achieve Silver LEED certification.
10. The Urban Cactus, Rotterdam
Designed by UCX Architects, the Urban Cactus is a residential project in the Netherlands that offers 98 residential units on 19 floors. The staggered design and curvy balconies which looked like a stacked set of rotated, swoopy plates allow each unit’s outdoor space to get plenty of light from the sun. This also affords greater angles of natural sunlight to penetrate into the interior of the units themselves. While this tower may lack in the technology department, its carbon-mitigation potential is high thanks to all the photosynthesis happening on the porch gardens. Additionally, the building is white to mitigate the urban heat island effect.
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