July 10, 2012 on 12:08 am | In Fascinating Information, Government, New Developments, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

By Jodi Summers

Sucking sound continues as frustrated businesses leave California for friendlier climes….and there’s another measure to make doing business in California even more difficult.

An environmental coalition called “Californians to Close the Out-of-State Corporate Tax Loophole” has submitted more than 900,000 signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot. The initiative is to raise more than a billion dollars from companies headquartered outside of California, but doing business in our state. It’s like not being allowed to drive the family car because your brother had an accident.

For the first five years, the initiative is projected to raise about a billion dollars per year, with about half going toward energy conservation efforts at schools and other public buildings. The remainder would go toward the state’s general fund. After five years, however, the entire amount would be directed to the State’s General Fund.

The measure can easily discourage investment in California by national companies. The measure offers a short term benefit to the real estate industry, but, it’s a bit of “bait-and-switch,” as it ultimately directs any gain from the tax to the state’s General Fund coffers.



April 20, 2012 on 12:54 am | In Fascinating Information, Government, Green, Property Maintenance, Trends, Uncategorized, Winning Properties | 5 Comments

by Jodi Summers

We evolve and we learn. When it comes to building efficiency, we are advancing at warp speed. The Department of Energy has revealed that buildings meeting the new 2010 energy efficiency standard will conserve 18.5% more energy than structures using the previous 2007 DOE standard. It’s like making the jump to hyperspace.

The DOE did some pretty serious study to come up with the new codes. For its findings, DOE simulated 16 representative building types in 15 U.S. climate locations. In addition, they analyzed the energy codes published by the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.

The evolved 2010 standard covers a wide spectrum of the energy-related components and systems in buildings ranging from simple storage units to complex energy usage locations like hospitals and laboratories. The size of the structures also ranged from under 1,000 square feet to the largest buildings in the world.

States are expected to review Standard 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings and update their building code to meet or exceed the energy efficiency of the new standard within two years. Certification statements by the states are due October 18, 2013.

California requires our state-developed commercial code the 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, comprising Title 24, Parts 1 and 6, of the California Code of Regulations.

The DOE boasts that the newer version of the standard contains 19 positive impacts on energy efficiency. Among the modifications are new requirements for daylighting controls under skylights; increased use of heat recovery; cool roofs in hot climates; skylights and daylighting in some building types; reduced ventilation energy; supply air temperature reset for non-peak conditions; efficiency requirements for data centers; control of exterior lighting; and occupancy sensors for many specific applications.

Over a 20-year span, green buildings can $53 to $71 per square foot back on investment. LEED and Energy Star certified buildings achieve significantly higher rents, sale prices and occupancy rates as well as lower capitalization rates potentially reflecting lower investment risk…and green buildings make the world a better place.



February 18, 2012 on 12:35 am | In Fascinating Information, Government, Green, New Developments, Property Maintenance, Solutions, Statistics, Trends, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

by Jodi Summers

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 @



February 8, 2012 on 12:05 am | In Fascinating Information, Government, Green, Legal, Property Maintenance, Trends, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

by Jodi Summers

It’s a first for the U.S. > a national green building code. Thing is, we’ve yet to see the estimates of what it’s going to add to the balance sheet. In development for more than two years, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) applies to all new and renovated commercial buildings and residential buildings over three stories high.

“It represents a change in the standard of construction,” says Jessyca Henderson Director of Sustainability Advocacy at the American Institute of Architects. “It will affect everyone that touches buildings…it will be a big leap.”

To develop the code, the International Code Council collaborated with the American Institute of Architects, US Green Building Council, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), among other appropriate agencies.

The new code creates a mandatory “floor” – enforceable minimum standards on every aspect of building design and construction that now must be reached. These new minimum standards apply to all aspects of building design and construction, including energy and water efficiency, site impacts, building waste, and materials.

Here are some of the new rules of property development as set forth by the new ICC green building code:

Site Development, Land Use: In a big move toward environmental preservation, development on Greenfields (undeveloped land) is no longer acceptable, although there are exceptions based on existing infrastructure. There are new guidelines for site disturbance, irrigation, erosion control, transportation, heat island mitigation, graywater systems, habitat protection, and site restoration…so you too can help save the Round-tailed Ground Squirrel.

Materials: As with California codes, the ICC code requires a minimum of 50% of construction waste must be diverted from landfills, and at least 55% of building materials must be salvaged, recycled-content, recyclable, biobased, or indigenous. Buildings must be designed for at least 60 years of life, and must have a service plan that justifies that. If 600 years ago they built properties that have lasted 600 years, using modern technology for new construction to last 1/10th that time should be easy.

Energy Efficiency: total efficiency must be “51% of the energy allowable in the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code” (IECC), and building envelope performance must exceed that by 10%. It sets minimum standards for lighting and mechanical systems, and requires certain levels of submetering and demand-response automation.

Water Efficiency: The ICC code establishes maximum consumption of fixtures and appliances and sets standards for rainwater storage and graywater systems.

Indoor Air Quality: As you would expect, the new code addresses radon, asbestos, VOCs, sound transmission, and daylight.

Commissioning, Operations: Maintenance gets more complex. New green buildings require pre- and post-occupancy education of building owners and maintenance employees.

Here’s a cute perk…every project is also required to choose an additional “elective,” which pushes the envelope for the developer further. There’s a sexy menu of elective choices, like whole-building life-cycle assessment to more stringent recycled-content.

Local governments and states have the choice of adopting the code – many California cities like West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Berkeley have already implemented their own codes. But, once a city chooses the ICC codes – which require no additional budget – it’s enforceable…but does allow for flexibility within the rules depending upon location and size of building. Also, it’s customizable. Municipalities can add their own requirements on top of the code that address local concerns such as stormwater management or lighting pollution control.

No information was shared on how these new rules will affect cost…we await that information with bated checkbooks. Expect the final code to reach the public late in 1Q 2012.



January 19, 2012 on 12:15 am | In Bravo, Fascinating Information, Government, Green, Trends, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Edited by Jodi Summers

Let’s start by saying “Better Building Challenge benefits” 3x fast…The goal of the Better Buildings Challenge is to make American buildings 20% more energy efficient by 2020. It is estimated that the energy to operate the buildings in which we work, shop, and go to school costs the U.S. about $200 billion annually, and on average, 30% of this energy is wasted. More efficient commercial buildings reduces the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, protects the environment, and saves billions of dollars in energy costs that can be spent growing businesses, investing in new technologies, and creating American jobs.

The Better Buildings Challenge asks corporate chief executive officers, university presidents, and state and local leaders to make a public commitment to energy efficiency. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is highlighting leaders that have committed to upgrading buildings across their portfolio, and providing their energy savings data and strategies as models for others to follow.

Let us share with you the details of the program…

What kind of organizations can join?

The Better Buildings Challenge involves a network of Partners and Allies that demonstrate national leadership in energy efficiency:

* Partners are commercial businesses, industrial corporations, universities, and other building owners that make a public commitment to reduce energy consumption in their facilities

* Community Based Partners are municipalities and States that work with local businesses and universities to assess opportunities and take action

* Allies are financial institutions, service providers, technology firms, and program administrators that commit to supporting the energy efficiency marketplace.

What does an organization commit to?

The commitment is matched to the type of organization. For example, Partners commit to:

* Publically pledge an organization-wide energy savings goal over a 2 to 5 year period within 6 months of joining, and develop an organization-wide plan and schedule,

* Announce an initial showcase project and initiate the project,

* Share information about their progress against their pledge goal, and about the energy efficiency implementation models (including the tools, technologies, and processes) they used to reach their pledge goal.

What kind of technical assistance will DOE provide? What kind of recognition?

DOE, in collaboration with its federal partners such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Treasury, and the Small Business Administration (SBA), will:

* Provide technical assistance and energy efficiency implementation models to help Partners achieve their pledge,

* Establish a marketplace of energy efficiency stakeholders, such as government, industry, service providers, financial institutions, and technology companies, in order to transform the market and realize the full economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency,

* Insure integrity in the reported results through quality assurance standards,

* Recognize Partners and Allies for their progress in achieving milestones and reaching goals.

DOE will also profile the innovative and cost effective energy efficiency implementation models of this leadership group for others to use.

What are the requirements regarding reporting and transparency?

Organizations are asked to report publicly on their energy savings across their organization and at the individual facility/building level on a quarterly basis. They are also asked to share information about the best practice implementation models that they used to achieve their pledge targets. These requirements will be refined in coordination with the initial program Partners and Allies.

What data will be required to demonstrate energy savings?

Baseline energy intensity data will be required at the portfolio and individual facility level to demonstrate energy savings. These requirements will be refined in coordination with the initial program Partners and Allies.

What does the government offer Better Buildings Challenge Partners?

DOE, in collaboration with its federal partners, will offer energy efficiency technical assistance and best practice implementation models to the Challenge Partners to encourage investment in energy efficiency. Technical and informational resources under development include:

* Tools that support use of tax and utility credits

* Assessment tools for evaluating energy efficiency measures

* Financial modeling tools

* Model high-efficiency technology specifications

* A process for identifying qualified service companies

* Financing opportunities through the Small Business Administration

In addition, the Better Buildings Challenge will connect Partners that commit to and demonstrate sound implementation approaches for investing in the cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities in their facilities with Financial, Technology, and Service Allies that commit to provide best practice services for deep energy savings and to transparency in results.

What are the commitments for financial allies?

* Assign a senior-level liaison who is committed to allocating the necessary resources to pursue all potential projects resulting from the Better Buildings Challenge

* Invest in or lend at least $50 million in commercial building energy efficiency projects or collaborate with industry leaders and stakeholder to create at least a $50 million market for each financial product

* Provide information on financial performance and structure information

What type of financial performance and structure information are Financial Allies asked to share?

Financial Allies are asked to share information about their products and services, such as loan packages, values, interest rates, and cash flow information allowing for Discounted Cash Flow and Net Present Value analyses.

How does the Better Buildings Challenge fit into the larger Better Buildings Program?

The Better Buildings Challenge is part of a larger Better Buildings Program, an effort to make American commercial, residential, and industrial buildings more energy efficient through innovative action and real world solutions.

For example, the Better Buildings Challenge will complement the efforts of the Better Buildings Neighborhood program—a three year, $500 million grant program managed by DOE, which is primarily focused on residential buildings at the state and local level.

Through Better Buildings, DOE is also working to increase and accelerate better financing opportunities for building upgrades, better workforce training in energy audits and building operation, and better tax incentives to encourage more energy efficiency upgrades.



January 9, 2012 on 12:03 am | In Bravo, Fascinating Information, Government, Green, New Developments, Solutions, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

By Jodi Summers

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.”

The White House says that more than 60 organizations have secured:

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.”


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