SoCal Metropolitan Water District & Center for Sustainable Energy focused on Energy Management & Sustainability at LA Buildings Expo Sept 27

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The Los Angeles Buildings Expo partners with industry associations, local utilities & government agencies to bring you a comprehensive educational program that will help keep you up to date on the latest emerging codes, laws, incentive programs and industry trends.

This year, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Center for Sustainable Energy are among the key partnerships established to provide attendees the opportunity to discover new ways to operate sustainable buildings and businesses offering strategies on how to reduce overhead, manage risk & identify cost savings through sustainable practices.

Living Building Challenge LA Collaborative on High Performance Buildings & Sustainable Design at Sept. 27 LA Buildings Expo

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Join Avideh Haghighi & Justin Di Palo from the LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE LOS ANGELES COLLABORATIVE, at the Los Angeles Buildings Expo at Pasadena Convention Center on Wednesday, September 27th to learn on how Sustainability, resource efficiency, and onsite renewable energy are becoming standard practices in building design.  This session will discuss the drivers of sustainable design (e.g. Title-24, statewide Net Zero Energy targets, green building certifications, financial incentives) and the synergies between high performing buildings and health, wellness, and productivity.

“Siri’s City: Make Your Buildings “FEEL”, “THINK & “TALK” Through the Internet of Things (IoT) – Sept. 27 LA Buildings Expo

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Commercial Property owners, managers and maintenance professionals are invited to see what’s new in strategies, solutions and building technologies at the Los Angeles Buildings Expo at Pasadena Convention Center on Wednesday, September 27th from 9:00 am-4:00 pm. ADMISSION IS FREE.  LA Professionals converge on this one-day event to share ideas and develop new strategies to mitigate risks, reduce costs, raise quality and ultimately improve the financial performance throughout the property life cycle.

California Association of Housing Authorities (CAHA) Sponsors LA Buildings Expo

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Did you know property owners and managers have developed long-lasting, highly successful and rewarding relationships with local Housing Authorities. They’ve discovered that making Housing
Authorities part of their business plan directly benefits their businesses.   For example, they appreciate the regular inspections, helping with facilitating smoother leasing and renewals, guaranteed rent deposit programs, support of the Housing Authority staff when tenants fall behind on rent, and monetary incentives.  

Probiotics for Property Plumbing – Nature’s Cleaning power

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A common challenge for multi-resident, multi-story buildings is the frequency of plumbing repairs needed to keep waste water flowing freely out through drains, pipes, and outflow stacks. This problem can be especially acute in residential complexes where fats, oil and grease from in-home cooking accumulate all the way from kitchen drain traps to the common ground level drains.

Additional deposits of soap, hair, and other waste residue from bathroom showers, tubs, sinks and toilets add to the ongoing problem. Typically, this issue is dealt with as a maintenance budget line item for both plumber snaking at the unit level and the much more expensive jetting service applied to the inside of the common vertical outflow pipes, known as stacks. The annual cost for these services can easily top $10,000 or more, even in a modest-sized building with less than 100 units.


Many property managers and homeowner associations have discovered that regular application of biological cleaners, such as MegaMicrobes®, provide significant cost savings. In addition, this method is completely non-toxic and harmless to any type of piping material. It is not only considered safe, but also beneficial to the local environment by reducing the amount of sludge put into municipal sewer systems. This type of treatment, known as “bioremediation,” works for towering office buildings as well as 2-4 story condo apartments. Recently, we learned of how one large residential community has realized maintenance cost savings of more than $14,000 a year. (See case study.)

To understand the benefits of using a biological cleaner, it helps to understand how multi-floor plumbing systems work. Typically, waste water (“black” and “gray” water) flow out of the building through common top-vented vertical pipes known as stacks or soil-stacks. Between the stack and each unit are “tributary” pipes flowing from fixtures (toilets, sinks, etc.) These lateral pipes contain a dipped section that acts as a trap with sitting water that acts as a barrier to sewage gases coming into the fixtures; in most cases it is required that there is also a small venting release close to the fixture, usually inside the wall. The main venting of gases occurs at the top of the stack, generally located on the roof of a building. This same vent is intended to help maintain neutral pressure throughout the building and also allow aerobic bacteria to aid in sewage “digestion.”

At the bottom of the stack is the main drain which carries the waste water into a pipe running to the municipal sewage system.


Regular application of a high-quality, effective biological product like MegaMicrobes® can be easily and safely applied by maintenance staff or even the residents themselves. With a strong initial treatment followed by monthly or bi-weekly use of the bio-additive at the drain level of the building, natural enzymes and bacteria will go to work keeping sludge buildup to a minimum at the primary point where blockage occurs. Friendly bacteria will also eat its way into the sewage connecting pipes, providing a cleaner pathway away from the building. To supplement treatments at the ground floor, individual fixtures can also be treated where there are problems and as part of an overall “healthy” pipes program. This has been shown to dramatically reduce the need for expensive plumber visits.

Whether you decide to go forward with a trial program or your property is ready to commit to a long-term biomaintenance plan, keep in mind that not all so-named biological products are alike. The quality and quantity of the bacteria in the formula is the most important component of the treatment. Many off-the-shelf products offer very low pricing but actually have a much higher cost-per-use because they contain weak bacterial counts in very low concentrations. Pre-loaded enzymes and other ingredients will not provide the digestive power of high-grade microbial strains custom blended in very high cell counts.

Please visit our website to learn more about MegaMicrobes and how bioremediation can help you!


How Will Current National and State Politics Affect Facility Management?

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By Corey Lee Wilson

Changes are underway with the new administration – how will they impact you? President Trump’s agenda places several programs that have helped FMs in danger of being eliminated. Their survival depends heavily on the ability or willingness to push some key parts of his agenda through Congress.

After the unprecedented electoral victory of Donald Trump, the political climate in the U.S. has been in a state of flux. As the president fills in cabinet and department positions, enacts his agenda and navigates the tumultuous waters of the current political climate, the commercial building industry awaits Washington’s concrete actions and their wide-ranging impacts.

With Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the White House, budget cuts, tax cuts and deregulation are likely on the way. While some of these actions might help businesses, these actions will also have consequences for the buildings industry in the coming weeks, months and years. How will the current political situation affect you?

Information Sharing for Energy Efficiency

The Michigan State University had a plan to boost its energy efficiency across the board but was in need of more information and strategies to enact changes across its portfolio of academic buildings, science facilities, parking ramps and athletic facilities. The Department of Energy’s voluntary energy program, the Better Buildings Challenge, provided these vital resources, even though it did not offer any financial incentives.

“We have saved close to $10 million over the past few years by installing energy-efficient measures across campus. We have reduced the energy footprint by 13% in the 20 million square feet included in the program,” says Lynda Boomer, Director of Planning Design and Construction at MSU.

Learning from similar universities that had undergone comparable projects, MSU found success in its energy-saving initiative. The information sharing partnership of the Better Buildings Challenge helped MSU enact HVAC upgrades, chiller replacements and insulation improvements for optimal efficiency.

Through the Better Buildings Challenge, partners commit to improve the energy use of their building portfolios by at least 20% within 10 years and lead the way in a network for peer-to-peer collaboration,” says Maria Vargas, Director of the Better Buildings Challenge. “By showing how energy efficiency has been successfully adopted – and the barriers addressed and overcome – these partners are examples for others across a myriad of building types and locations.”

Since joining the initiative, MSU has been able to achieve considerable savings in its facilities, and the program has been successful across the board in reducing energy usage in buildings.

“MSU became aware of the Better Buildings Challenge and Alliance through involvement in the International Institute for Safe Laboratories (I2SL). We had just completed the energy transition plan and were already on the path to reducing energy use on campus and becoming more efficient, so it was a good fit to join the Better Buildings Challenge,” says Boomer. “While they did not provide any financial aid, the program gave MSU an opportunity to network with other universities and suppliers that could provide ideas and opportunities for energy saving projects.”

In practice, the Better Buildings Challenge has been successful in helping participants reach that 20% goal. “Partners have saved 240 trillion BTUs in energy consumption, $1.9 billion in cost savings, 15 million tons in avoided carbon emissions, $8.6 billion in funds extended by financial allies partnering with DOE and 4 billion gallons in water savings,” says Vargas.

Initiatives that the voluntary Better Buildings Challenge has started include the Financing Navigator to help people find financing options, greater focus and research on data center energy use, water efficiency pledges that save both water and energy, and the SWAP, a reality TV-inspired web series in which property managers from two organizations look for savings opportunities in each other’s buildings.

The voluntary nature of the project allows organizations to earn recognition and share energy information with other participants, which can provide the spark for worthwhile changes. However, the future of the Better Buildings Challenge is in jeopardy due to a recent executive order and the future federal budget.

The Trump Administration Trajectory

President Trump has targeted several Obama-era policies that directly relate to the buildings industry through executive actions and legislative proposals. One needs to look no further than the Better Buildings Challenge, which former President Obama introduced in his 2011 State of the Union address as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In his 2013 Climate Action Plan, Obama’s agenda included expanding the Better Buildings Challenge.

However, the Trump administration has taken aim at Obama’s Climate Action Plan with the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, identifying goals of striking down energy-related regulations that executive departments have mandated in the past. This executive order could threaten the future of the Better Buildings Challenge, although it is not yet clear how or to what extent.

Executive orders have some historical precedent of being more symbolic, guiding the vision and overall policy of a presidency. Whether or not this particular executive order will on its own largely impact Obama’s Climate Action Plan is unclear at this point. But what an executive order may or may not be able to accomplish can be done so through legislation.

The budget proposal Trump will expand and hopes to usher through Congress provides more concrete plans for cuts within several departments that house energy efficiency programs. While this budget proposal will undoubtedly undergo major changes to placate the many factions of the House, the original budget presented provides insight into the trajectory this administration would like to follow as far as federal funding goes.

Two of the most important departments to look at with the budget proposal are the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, both of which would face cuts in 2018.

The DOE’s proposed cuts seem small compared to other departments with 6% or $1.7 billion in cuts having been proposed to its 2017 allocation. However, under this prospective budget, the National Nuclear Security Administration would receive a $1.4 billion boost, meaning cuts to other programs in the department – ones that might impact building operators – compound under this budget.

One of the hardest-hit agencies under the proposed budget cuts is the EPA; the agency’s overall budget would shrink by 31% or $2.6 billion. Stating a desire to cut back on regulations that hinder businesses, the president set his sights on cutting one particular program in the EPA: ENERGY STAR Overall Company Goals And Energy Policies.

California Plan Seeks to Make Water Conservation a Way of Life

Working to make water conservation a way of life, State agencies today released a draft plan for achieving long-term efficient water use and meeting drought preparedness goals that reflect California’s diverse climate, landscape, and demographic conditions.

“Californians rose to the challenge during this historic drought and recognized that conservation is critical in the face of an uncertain future. This plan is about harnessing the creativity and innovation that Californians have shown during the driest years in state history and making water conservation a way of life in the years ahead,” said California Department of Water Resources Director Mark W. Cowin. “This plan will help make permanent changes to water use so California is better prepared for whatever the future brings.”

The new plan’s fundamental premise is that efficient water use helps all of California better prepare for longer and more severe droughts caused by climate change.

California recently suffered the driest four years in state history, with only average rainfall last year, and 75 percent of the state remains in severe drought conditions. Meanwhile, a new report from UCLA projects that the Sierra Nevada snowpack — one of California’s largest sources of water supply—is likely to drop 50 percent by the end of the century due to climate change. Recognizing these risks and many others, today’s plan seeks permanent changes to water use that boost efficiency and prepare for more limited water supplies. These practices will help achieve a top priority in the Governor’s Water Action Plan – to “Make Conservation a California Way of Life.”

Today’s plan builds on the success of mandatory water restrictions during California’s severe drought and develops long-term water conservation measures that will ensure all communities have sufficient water supplies. This will involve activities such as ensuring farmers plan and prepare for severe drought and permanently banning wasteful practices like hosing off sidewalks and driveways.

“The last few years provided the wake-up call of all wake-up calls that water is precious and not to be taken for granted,” said Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “Californians rose to the occasion collectively during the drought. We can build on that success and now prepare for a more unpredictable and disruptive future marked by a changing climate – and do it equitably and cost effectively.”

Today’s plan represents a shift from statewide mandates to a set of conservation standards applied based on local circumstances, including population, temperature, leaks, and types of commercial and industrial use.  For example, communities in hotter and drier climate zones will receive irrigation allowances that reflect evaporation levels.

Key Water Conservation Measures Proposed for California

The proposed Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board measures include:

  • Permanent bans on wasteful practices, such as hosing driveways and excessively watering lawns.
  • Technical assistance and financial incentives for water suppliers to implement leak prevention, detection, and repair programs.
  • Collecting information about innovative water conservation and water loss detection and control technologies.
  • Requiring agricultural water suppliers to quantify water use in their service areas and describe measures to increase water use efficiency.
  • Full compliance with water use targets for urban water suppliers by 2025.
  • Planning and preparing for continued and future drought and water shortages.

Some of the actions described in the draft plan will require working with the Legislature on new and expanded State authority, while others can be implemented under existing authorities. All recommendations aim to achieve the main objectives of the Governor’s Executive Order B-3716: use water more wisely, eliminate water waste, strengthen local drought resilience, and improve agricultural water use efficiency and drought planning.

Rescuing Abandoned Buildings

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By Kerry Kilpatrick

Abandoned Buildings

Turning Eyesores into Assets

The owner of the abandoned property pictured above made the first call following its acquisition to The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan’s President, Scott Ringlein. The plan is to revive the boarded up property, and the client wanted Ringlein to develop a list of energy efficiency opportunities along with possible funding mechanisms.

The property has been an eyesore for years and when the government entity holding the property saw our client’s recent conversion of a similar building, they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The big question was could it be made usable again?

Abandoned BuildingsAccording to Ringlein, the building is structurally sound and in excellent shape for being brought back to life. The formerly upscale apartment complex will need a complete makeover as evidenced by the photo taken during Ringlein’s initial tour of the site. The tour was the first step in the process of converting the boarded up eyesore into a valuable community asset future tenants will call home.

The property, originally built in the 1920’s, had fallen into decay for a variety of reasons. But as is typically the case with abandoned buildings, it’s ultimately a lack of capital. Funds for needed upgrades that keep a building’s aging infrastructure current are often difficult to access. As a building slowly deteriorates the cost to maintain it increases, and without upgrades it becomes less comfortable to live in. The resulting increased vacancy and associated decrease in revenue creates a relentless downward spiral that ends up with an unwanted, abandoned and boarded up structure.

How to Finance Building Upgrades

Several days after Ringlein’s tour of the abandoned property, EAG’s Vice President Curt Monhart convened a panel of experts that presented how to finance building upgrades, and more specifically, upgrades that keep a building from falling into the downward spiral of decay.

While there are many options for financing upgrades, Monhart focused on the one most advantageous to keep a property current with upgrades such as lighting, HVAC, windows, doors, insulation, water conservation and renewable sources of energy. These are the options that increase comfort, reduce energy and maintenance costs, create improved tenant appeal and increase overall profitability.

“When the air is clean, the lighting good, the noise diminished, and the indoor environment is comfortable and inviting, productivity increases!”

Abandoned Buildings

(l-r) Curt Monhart, Commissioner Robert Womack, Scott Ringlein, Peter Vissar, Steve Payer, Andy Levin

Monhart’s panel discussed the energy – specific financing mechanism known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) from four unique perspectives as outlined below:

The PACE Administrator – Andy Levin of Lean and Green Michigan described PACE in Michigan including how the program works and its unique advantages versus traditional financing options. Levin also discussed Lean & Green Michigan’s approach to developing the Michigan PACE market and the process for establishing a PACE district.

The Funding Source – Kyle Peczyski of Petros PACE Finance described the underwriting criteria and the process for securing a PACE loan. He also presented a number of case studies of projects funded by PACE.

The Project Developer – Curt Monhart of EAG described why PACE is necessary and what types of projects qualify for the energy specific financing. Monhart also described how to initiate a PACE upgrade project and the unique approach EAG uses to launch projects.

The Property Owner / Developer – Jeff Dombrowski from The West Michigan Housing Alliance described how PACE is a viable mechanism for funding what is often the missing element truly making housing affordable – low energy costs. He described a case where rent is affordable but high energy expenses put the total living expenses beyond tenant reach.

Don’t forget the cost of maintenance!

One of the points brought up during Monhart’s presentation was the fact that older buildings, and their associated equipment nearing the end of its useful life expectancy, typically have a rising cost associated with maintenance. Facilities that upgrade their equipment not only take advantage of improved energy efficiency, but also benefit financially from a significant reduction in maintenance costs. And unlike most traditional forms of financing, these costs can be included in a PACE loan.

Monhart cited the example of upgrading a lighting technology that had to be replaced every two years with a technology that only needs to be replaced every ten years. The savings were dramatic. The case study illustrated a 50% reduction in maintenance costs and $234,216.00 in savings from maintenance alone. Here the numbers from the project:

Abandoned Buildings

Rescuing abandoned buildings is a complex process gaining attention as the revitalization of older communities increases. Keeping buildings from reaching the point where they become abandoned is high on the list of community leaders. These leaders realize it makes far more sense to keep a building in use rather than attempting to restore it after abandoned. That dynamic depends on access to adequate capital.

Every building owner has a long list of needs when it comes to maintaining a property’s market appeal. Financing that list, while maintaining profitability, can be a challenge at times. If the challenge can’t be met the building begins to lose marketability and profit.

New methods of financing along with rebates, incentives and grants make ongoing upgrades to buildings more affordable. Those same financing mechanisms also make it possible to rescue abandoned buildings and restore them to their former glory, while at the same time utilizing the most up to date technology to insure tenant satisfaction and comfort.

The building pictured at the beginning of this article will be featured step – by –  step as the renovation project moves forward. A “behind the drywall” tour is also in the planning stages for those interested in touring the project near the midpoint of renovation. If you would like to follow this project, and be alerted to the tour, subscribe to news from the EAG by clicking HERE.


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PASADENA (July 17) — Property owners, managers and maintenance professionals are invited to see what’s new in strategies, solutions and building technologies at the Los Angeles Buildings Expo at Pasadena Convention Center on Wednesday, September 27th from 9:00 am-4:00 pm. ADMISSION IS FREE.

The conference will provide opportunities to explore emerging trends in building codes, laws, incentives, and best practices to reduce costs, mitigate risk and improve performance during the entire property life cycle. Highlights include commercial, industrial and multifamily expert speakers, educational panels, exhibit hall, and all-day networking.

The opening keynote will be presented by Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek whose financing, initiatives and revitalization efforts have helped Old Town become a national historic landmark, a major tourist destination and one of the state’s most prosperous areas. Conference sponsors include:

  • Metropolitan Water District of So California
  • International Facility Management Association
  • California Association of Housing Authorities
  • Commercial Brokers Association
  • Center For Sustainable Energy
  • U.S. Green Buildings Council
  • The Living Building Challenge
  • International Living Future Institute

Educational panels include Making Your Building Feel, Think and Talk With The Internet of Things, The Future of Industrial Property, Maintenance 911, Energy Management & Automated Demand Response (ADR), State of the Los Angeles Multifamily Market, Legal Issues, Water Efficiency, and 1031 Exchange & Investment Strategies.

Building financing, incentives, rebates and subsidy information will be provided by area cities, municipalities and participating associations. The latest in building technology and sustainability products and services will also be presented to help attendees learn how to increase profitability in today’s competitive marketplace.

The Los Angeles Buildings Expo will be held Wednesday, September 27 from 9:00am-4:00 pm. Admission is free. For pre-registration and more information please visit


Your Credit Reports Have Changed as of July 1, 2017

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By Becky Bower | ApplyConnect

The National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) is now in effect! As of July 1, 2017, all new and existing public record data used by Experian®, Equifax®, and TransUnion® will be held to the new NCAP standards. While the implementation of these standards will occur over a three year period (with full implementation expected by March 2018), the three major credit bureaus have begun to take steps to improve data accuracy and quality.

What is the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP)?

Announced September of last year, NCAP establishes new standards (or personal identifying information) for a record to appear on a consumer credit report. As we’ve stated in a previous article, new and existing public record data will have to adhere to these two standards:

The minimum is required of consumer identifying information: name, address, social security number and/or date of birth
The minimum frequency (at least every 90 days) of courthouse visits to obtain newly filed and updated public records is required

While Experian® and the other bureaus “anticipate no change to bankruptcy public record data”, since bankruptcies are typically filed with the minimum consumer ID information like SSN (which passes standard #1), civil judgment, public record and tax lien data are affected. In fact, the preliminary analysis by Experian® projects that about 96% of civil judgement data might not meet the new standards. For tax lien data, they’re expecting “as much as 50% of this data may not meet the enhanced PII requirements.”

Protect your Property with More than Just Credit

Although the full effect of these changes won’t be apparent until a few months have passed, moving forward you might want to rely on additional methods to vet rental applicants. If the initial estimate of 96% of civil judgement data and ½ of all tax lien data do not in fact meet the new standards (and are thereby removed), it’s likely that a removed civil judgement record (like a monetary eviction) will not be reflected in the credit score. Rather than relying on a low credit score to indicate a civil judgement record, you’ll want to rely on a tenant screening service like ApplyConnect® to provide the eviction data to clue you in.

While you might want to take matters into your own hands and speak to your tenant screening company about what steps they’re taking to safeguard your property with the new standards, NCAP isn’t all that bad. Some positive changes that have come out of the initiative are that, according to their website, “medical debts won’t be reported until after a 180-day waiting period to allow insurance payment to be applied”. As most people don’t necessarily “sign up” for medical debt, giving applicants (and their insurance providers) about a half of year to pay their bills before the debt is applied to their credit score is reasonable. Consumers who obtain their annual free credit report and dispute the information on it will also be able to obtain a second free credit report without having to wait another 12 months. Although you’ll want to look into further protections, NCAP is just one step in the right direction to improving data quality and accuracy, and getting applicants educated on how to improve their credit score.