Construction is Changing … Are You Prepared?

In an evolving industry, inexperience and age are big factors in driving worker’s compensation claims in construction

The U.S. construction industry will need about 1.7 million more workers by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Occupational Outlook. This is fantastic news, especially since the 2009 Global Recession laid off more than 2 million construction workers.

It’s time to get hiring, right? Well … maybe not.

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California’s Fires Give Us All a Reason to Get Prepared

How pre-fire planning can help save your business and help save lives

On Tuesday, May 6, state, local, and federal officials said in an article from The San Diego Union-Tribune, that a bone-dry California is poised for its worst fire season ever and they urged residents to be prepared.

“We are right now looking at a pretty tough wildfire season,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Cal Fire has already fought 1,244 wildfires (this year) – that’s triple the average for that period of time. And it’s not going to get better over the course of this year. That’s something every citizen of California should know and they should take steps to protect their communities and their homes.”

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Why Going Green Can Enhance Real Estate’s ‘Sex Appeal’

Human beings have an innate attraction to nature.

It’s a biological bond where exposure to nature can affect your blood pressure, heart rate, hormones and other vital functions – think the first time you met your spouse or significant other for a sense of how powerful this attraction can be. This deep connection is central to the concept of Biophilia, which was popularized by biologist Edward O. Wilson.

“Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms,” Wilson said “Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything else humanity is ever likely to encounter.”

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A Business Case for Understanding Climate Change

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

The average age of a commercial building in the U.S. is 50 years. But the average hold period for a commercial real estate investment ranges from a low of three years for opportunistic investments to a high of 12 years for core properties.

Investor return expectations, loan terms and lease terms all serve to drive the spread between hold periods and the functional life of real estate assets.  In today’s turbulent marketplace, investors have a hard enough time projecting performance for the next 12 months, much less the next 600 months, so it comes as no surprise that anticipating the effects of climate change on business scarcely registers as a blip on the radar screen for the average commercial real estate owner. And, speaking from hard-earned experience, changing the dominant investing and operating paradigm of an industry isn’t easy. Read More…

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Searching for the Holy Grail of Green Real Estate

Lost in the debate over the value created by going green is what some have dubbed the “Holy Grail” of sustainable real estate.
Much of the analysis on greening real estate assets focuses on relatively easy-to-quantify metrics, such as the OPEX (operating expense) improvements to NOI by cutting water and energy use versus the CAPEX (capital expenditures) and who ultimately benefits from those investments. But that debate focuses on a small piece of the 5 percent to 7 percent of business OPEX tied up in real estate and ignores the largest expense of operating a business: the workforce. To some, the Holy Grail of sustainable real estate is discovering the true net-zero commercial building, but to me it is uncovering absolute proof of the productivity gains for those blessed to work in a green building. Read More…

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Did the Greenest Type of Development Just Become an Endangered Species?

You’ve sourced locally, used recycled materials extensively and incorporated the most advanced building operating systems available with an eye on earning a Platinum certification from US Green Building Council and premium pricing from tenants and investors for your latest development project.

You may think your new building is as green as economically and physically possible but it could have been much greener.

Last month, Preservation Green Lab, a Seattle-based think tank, released a study that concluded that “building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new construction.”

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Dr. Green Laws or: How You Should Stop Worrying and Love Sustainability Regulations

War is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought,” – Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”

I can’t speak for General Ripper’s “precious bodily fluids” but the 1951 policy to fluoridate the U.S. public drinking water supply is widely considered an economic boon. The 18 percent to 40 percent reduction in childhood cavities saves far more money in dental costs than the 95 cents per person it costs on average to add fluoride to our water. And based on my last trip to the dentist, he doesn’t seem to be hurting for business. Read More…

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Shining a Light on Sustainability

Transparency hasn’t always come easy to real estate.

Despite the efficiency and liquidity advantages that transparency brings to the marketplace, real estate continues to cling to its private roots when it comes to revealing details about individual assets. The same applies to the world of real estate sustainability. Despite all those plaques on the front of buildings proclaiming LEED certifications, it is has been hard to know how well those buildings actually perform. That’s about to change as states and cities throughout the country enact new rules requiring property owners to disclose their environmental performance.

Austin, the District of Columbia, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle along with the state of California and Washington State all have approved new regulations that require most investment property owners to report their energy and water use among other measures. Additionally, regulations are under consideration for Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont and the city of Portland. Read More…

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