How Will Current National and State Politics Affect Facility Management?

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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.


Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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.

FGCAR Urges Decisive Action as Retail Presence Shrinks

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Brian Andrus | Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors

Professional commercial realtors see expeditious planning and execution as key to avoiding blight and preserving property values.

A recent June 2017 report from Credit Suisse estimates that between 20% and 25% of the nation’s shopping malls will close in the next five years as shoppers’ habits continue to shift from in-store to online buying. Traditional mall anchors such as Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Sears have announced widespread store closings in recent months, and a number of niche clothiers like American Apparel and BCBG Max Azria have filed for bankruptcy. The report estimates that around 8,640 stores will close by the end of the year.1 These problems will be particularly acute in retail-intensive areas like shopping streets and malls.

“It’s now a known and accepted fact that online shopping has changed both the presence and the form of bricks-and-mortar retail outlets in the United States—including Florida – and it will continue to do so”, says Brian Andrus, President of the Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors (  “Property owners and municipalities should not be caught asleep at the wheel.  There are developers, entrepreneurs and municipalities today who can engage with the vast talent inherent in the commercial real estate professional community in Tampa Bay to take action.” He continues to explain that it is negligent to do otherwise, and, thereby inherit the inevitable shuttered stores, vacant buildings and sites that can become blight and result in the decline of the physical asset’s value as well as that of property values.

The closing of mall anchors like Macy’s and Sears has a ripple effect. Once a department store goes vacant, life can become extremely difficult for middle-mall retailers like nail salons, jewelry stores, and the like – those who to some degree depend on traffic from the larger stores.

According to Morningstar Credit Ratings, the U.S. has the greatest amount of retail space per capita—23.5 square feet per feet per person—of any country in the world. Canada, with 16.4 square feet per person, is second, followed by Australia’s 11.5 square feet—less than half that of the U.S.  Some feel there may be a longer way to fall before the industry hits bottom.2

The wrong response to this situation on the part of property owners and/or municipalities, Andrus notes, is to overthink it.  The best approach is engage in creative repurposing, a term now commonly used and illustrated both inside and outside of Tampa Bay – an example being spots where slowed shopping activity has moved away from strictly shopping to creating a more experiential destination. Take Grapevine Mills, located two miles from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, which has more than 200 retail outlets and restaurants but now offers a Sea Life aquarium, a Legoland, and an amusement center that features 24 lanes of bowling, billiards, video games, and a karaoke studio.3

Just one of several good-news pieces is a New York Times study that rated the Tampa Bay area as the fourth fastest-growing job market in the U.S.4  Like everyplace else in the country, we’re confronted with a fundamental change in people’s shopping habits.

Andrus said, “I have seen some municipalities overthink and overanalyze what to do.  They need to play to their strengths – land use, zoning, utilities, roads, etc. – and step back and provide opportunities allowing the private sector to participate.  Developers, entrepreneurs and others of the private sector bring their specialties and strengths – capital, creativity, and plans upon which they take on the risk/reward burden.  The link between these two is the professional expertise of commercial real estate practitioners who are daily working out ideas and providing possibilities to both sides.”

The wrong, fatalistic way to look at it is that the future simply arrives on its schedule, not ours.  Rather, by being pro-active and engaging the impressive amount of talent that exists today in Tampa Bay we can create our own desired future.  Malls and centers may indeed morph from purely shopping venues to destination sites with more entertainment value, or they may become something different.  Regardless which way it goes, the point is that we can put it there – the major players must move forward in an expedited, efficient manner.  That is common sense.  It means much more face-to-face sessions and other forms of collaboration, such as roundtable discussions and summits of participants that result in action plans from passionate leadership and not just more yak.  Andrus explained that to lessen current and potential blight and make the future something people want, participants would be prudent to seek input from commercial real estate professionals—such as the members of FGCAR.  They exist as a link between municipalities and the private sector.

About Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors:
Established in November 1992, the Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors (FGCAR) is the sole NAR (National Assn of Realtors) based professional membership organization strictly for licensed commercial real estate brokers/agents in the Tampa Bay region.  It is one of only two in such organizations in Florida; one of less than 30 nationwide. Its mission is to provide the Tampa Bay region a source of professional expertise and ethical accountability in the field of commercial real estate. The association offers education, events and networking as well as resources for professionals engaged in commercial real estate.

About Brian Andrus:

Brian Andrus operates a brokerage in Clearwater and is a licensed real estate broker in both California and Florida, having also earned the CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) and the ALC (Accredited Land Consultant) accreditations (both volume transactions of commercial properties and land).  The Florida Gulf Coast Commercial Association of Realtors consists of commercial professionals that transact over $4 billion worth of commercial real estate annually by its members and affiliates.

  1. Easter, Makeda, “Up to 25% of U.S. shopping malls may close in the next five years,” Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2017.
  1. Peterson, Hayley, “This is a Death Spiral,” Business Insider, June 3, 2017.
  1. Montgomery, David, “Deep in the Malls of Texas, a Vision of Shopping’s Future,” New York Times, June 20, 2017.
  1. O’Donnell, Christopher, “Study: Tampa area fourth fastest-growing job market in U.S.,” Tampa Tribune, April 19, 2016.

Asbestos vs. Espestice

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Chris Visser

Asbestos needs little or no introduction nowadays. Ever since its implication in asbestos-related cancers, it has received a worldwide spread of recognition. Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring silicate minerals that are popularly known for it’s unique properties as being durable, flexible, and extremely resistant to heat and fire.

The mining and utilization of asbestos has been going on for hundreds of years, but in the 1950s, the use of asbestos greatly increased as it was used in the production of all sorts of materials and a lot of these were used in houses, apartments, & condos.

Asbestos was commonly used roofing materials, cement, pipes, insulation, gaskets, and even it was even made into a thin sheets as a “protective” covering fabric.  In the late 90s, it was officially and scientifically linked to be the primary cause of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma.  These are deadly cancers, and ever since then, stories have continued to pile up on the topic, with the hope of ensuring public sensitization.

Asbestos pic

For those who may not be aware, malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that results from an individual being exposed to asbestos. These asbestos fibers can either be inhaled or ingested and it’s presence within the body can facilitate physical damage to the mesothelium (protective tissue lining of internal organs).  This damage alters the DNA structure of the affected cells and the uncontrollable reproduction of damaged cells is the actual cause of all cancers.

One thing to know about asbestos is that once it enters the body, it usually takes about 20-50 years for it to turn into mesothelioma. It has an extremely long latency period so if you’ve never been exposed to asbestos in your past life and were exposed today, you wouldn’t experience a single symptom for decades.  Early diagnosis of mesothelioma is uncommon and this is why it has acquired more than just the common misspellings… but also has been deemed the “silent killer”

Common Misspellings Of Asbestos

With the kind of popularity asbestos has infamously gained in the past few decades and since it was termed the “hidden / silent killer,” it’s actually no surprise that the word “asbestos” has become a regular output from the mouths of the panicking public.

The major down side to this is that the word “asbestos” has been given all sorts of variations in spelling. Several spellings pop up now and then on the web and they are all wrong. Some of these misspellings include: aspestos, abesto, asbesto, abestos, aspestis, asbetos, aspestus, asbestus etc.

All the above misspellings all seem understandable, we all make mistakes… but there is one spelling of the word that has actually become an international mistake.  Rather surprising because it neither reads or sounds like as-bes-tos.  The word is “espestice” and it gets searched nearly 10,000 times a month according to Google Keywords Tool.

It is rather surprising and funny that anyone would actually think “espestice” means “asbestos.” A few English classes surely should have helped straighten that out. In any case, it is important to know the correct spelling of the word, especially when looking to do some reading about it. So, for those “google-searching” the word “espestice,” you might as well save yourself the effort because it won’t yield anything tangible. The word you are looking for is “asbestos”.


Knowing the correct spelling of a word not only saves you stress, but also a lot of time when searching for relevant materials online. Asbestos is scary, especially because you can’t see the tiny fibers floating around in the air, but we mustn’t allow this panic to destroy our good English.

“Asbestos” is simply not “espestice.”

Biography of Christopher Visser

Christopher Visser is the Founder of Mesothelioma Treatment Community, which is the largest online resource for mesothelioma treatment options and complementary therapies for not only mesothelioma, but for all forms of cancer.

Christopher is a web-designer, blogger, and online social activist who has an incredibly strong interest in helping cancer patients on an international level.  Cancer hits very close to home with Chris as he has lost four family members to various forms of this disease and thus has dedicated his time towards two other zero-profit projects.

Dad Hats Factory, Raising Awareness Old-School Style, which donates custom cancer ribbon colored hats to non-profit cancer organizations.

Cannabidiol Life, Planting the Seeds of Health & Wellness. While a controversial topic (due to the fact that much is not known), Chris has made it the first and only medical based resource and product guide that comprehensively explains and helps families around the world learn about the benefits of CBD in connection with over 50 diseases and health conditions.

“Even though there is still much to be learned about treating cancer and CBD, we like to think of ourselves as present day explorers who’ve entered and started a small fire in a deep dark cave that has been blocked off for years.

Although we aren’t the first to ever enter this cave, nor the first to start a fire, we’ve still managed to create our own flame.  Difference is, we intend to keep the fire burning until we uncover all the writings on the wall and we will make sure the whole world is with us when we do it.”  – Christopher Visser

Legal Issues Unique to the Design-Build Project Delivery Process

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Design Everest

Although design-bid-build has been the traditional method for delivering projects to clients, the popularity of the design-build project delivery method has been growing steadily. The design-build delivery method typically shortens the time needed to complete a project since there is a single entity working on the project, but this also entails that all responsibility for the project is held by a single designer/builder.(1) This leads to a unique set of legal issues that apply to the design-build project delivery method. These legal issues can be categorized under the following six divisions:

• Setting Checks and Balances.
In the design-build model, the design builder does not act like a typical engineer who would act as the client’s consultant. Instead, they are often incentivized to create a design which will value cost and constructability far more than other criteria that an homeowner would value.(1) For this reason, the owner must contractually set up checks and balances, which can be done by addressing performance, payment and regulating other conditions.(2) One way to do this is to develop a detailed specification, sometimes called the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR), upon which the contract is based.

• Licensing Issues
The practice of professional engineering is heavily regulated with established requirements for the practice. The majority of contractors do not meet all of the requirements and therefore are not licensed as design professionals. For this reason, these services are often subcontracted to a design firm. In many states even this is illegal; a contractor is not able to hold out as performing design services for a design-build project unless they are a licensed design professional. Each state holds different regulations, but this causes legal difficulties in the design-build process.(1)

• Insurance Issues
Typically, they will have insurance for errors and omissions which excludes construction services, and contractors often have liability policies which exclude design services. Design professional policies often have high deductibles while liability policies for contractors have little to no deductible. Since each of the insurance types impact the design-build process differently, it can be very expensive to insure this project delivery method.(1)

• The Designer/ Builder Relationship
Since the design builder may be a single person or a contractor/ designer duo, questions may arise regarding the relationship of the two. The two may form a joint venture, a limited liability partnership, or choose to use another organizational form. The homeowner must understand all legal ramifications of contracting with each of these groups(2)

• The Standard of Care
In a design-build project,the homeowner will typically hold the design-builder to higher standards. An engineer does not ordinarily guarantee a successful outcome for the services they provide, but a contractor is expected to deliver a successful final project.(1) Since a design-builder holds the position of contractor, they are typically held to the stricter standards typical for a contractor for all parts of the project, as all services are addressed in a single contract. Although design-builders may often be held to higher standards, this does not require the design-builder to change their standard of care.(1) This can often lead to homeowners becoming dissatisfied with the standards held by the design-builder working on their home.

• Right to a Change Order
In the traditional project delivery method, the contractor is entitled to a change order if any of the following occur:
The owner changes the scope, interferes or disrupts the project, or impacts the project in any manner.(1)
The conditions of the project change due to unknown obstacles.(1)
Problems in the design are encountered(1)
For the design-build method, all of the above may entitle the design-builder to a change order except for problems in the design.(1) Due to the fact that the design-builder acts as contractor, they are held responsible for both the design and build aspect of the project.

• Ensuring Performance
Typically, a contractor only held responsible for the individual services they provide, and not the success of the project in its entirety.(1) In design-build projects, the design-builder is responsible for the success of the overall project since they are held accountable for the majority of the individual services. For this reason, a performance warranty should be drafted to guarantee the quality and performance of the project for a period of time.(1) This holds the design-builder accountable for the project as a whole.


Friedlander, Mark C. “Seven Legal Issues Unique to Design-Build.” Schiff Hardin. N.p., 5 June 2015. Web. 6 Jan. 2017.

McGreevy, Susan Linden, A. Elizabeth Patrick, Jessica D. McKinney, and Norman M. Arnell. “Perplexing Issues in Design-Build Projects.” Probate & Property. N.p., Nov. 2005. Web. 6 Jan. 2017.

The critical role of construction in property management

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Ruben Walker | CAM Construction

Construction is more important than you think

If you own a commercial building or complex, you are either managing it yourself or have a property manager. So you know there are many responsibilities and tasks associated with managing your property. But you may have never thought about the role of construction in property management. This post takes a look and gets you up to speed on what you need to know about this important aspect of the job.

Definition of property management

According to Wikipedia, it is:

the operation, control, and oversight of real estate as used in its most broad terms. Management indicates a need to be cared for, monitored and be held accountable for its useful life and condition.

Property management involves the processes, systems and manpower required to manage the life cycle of all acquired property as defined above including acquisition, control, accountability, responsibility, maintenance, utilization, and disposition.”

How does construction fit into property management?

Construction has several roles to play.


Repairs are mostly self-evident. They involve fixing things that are broken through misuse. A window broken by a baseball is a good example. Simple repairs may be carried out by an onsite employee. But more extensive ones may be handled by a third-party. Say if someone drives a car through your front entrance.


Many times an onsite employee will provide maintenance. But it can be more efficient and less costly to contract it out in other circumstances.

Routine maintenance involves the day to day upkeep of your property to keep it functional. Replacing loose fasteners on railings, fencing, steps, or deck planks are examples. Recaulking older windows is another.

Preventive maintenance is a proactive service to avoid unnecessary repairs. Regular inspections and service prolong the useful life of your assets. It is also an important part of maintaining the safety of your property.

Capital Improvements

Capital improvements are a different thing altogether. They are almost always carried out by a third-party. According to Investopedia they are:

“the addition of a permanent structural improvement or the restoration of some aspect of a property that will either enhance the property’s overall value or increases its useful life. Although the scale of the capital improvement can vary, capital improvements can be made by both individual homeowners and large-scale property owners.”

They also have very different tax implications.

The components of your property eventually wear out and have to be replaced. Replacement is necessary even if they have been properly maintained. Technology also changes and requires upgrading or installation of new systems and components. New regulations from government also require additions to or adaptations of your property and its constituent parts. You might even have to carry out upgrades just to stay competitive.

Replacing old windows with new energy-conserving ones is an example of a capital improvement.

Experience counts

You know that you can’t be an expert in every area of responsibility that is involved with property management. That’s why it is important to have partners you can trust and that have the experience you need for third-party services.

When it comes to construction in property management, a financially-sound contractor with experience in capital improvements is a smart option. This role is more complicated and challenging than repairs or maintenance. It also requires outstanding project management and communication skills from your partner.

You need one who can work hand-in-glove with you, your architect, designer, and local regulatory officials. You want a teammate that can help you implement your management plan and advise you on it.


As you can see the role of construction in property management is vital to the success and profitability of your property.

The key is having the right general contractor to partner with for this crucial aspect of the job. It is important to have someone who can understand you, your business or property, and its mission and culture. You need someone you can count on to provide quality, safety, and avoidance of future problems.

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared content from Keeping Current Matters

Whether you are buying or selling a home it can be quite an adventurous journey, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

The 5 reasons you NEED a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed, but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperworknecessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to the National Association of REALTORS, “the typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared to $245,000 among agent-assisted home sales.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively, and correctly, price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?

About The KCM Crew

We at The KCM Crew believe every family should feel confident when buying & selling a home. KCM helps real estate professionals reach these families & enables the agent to simply & effectively explain a complex housing market.

ENERGY STAR Benchmarking and Certification for High Performance Buildings

Written by Buildings Maintenance & Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

by Corey Lee Wilson | IFMA Inland Empire Chapter President

ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager can assist in evaluating and tracking a facility’s energy consumption, help identify underperforming facilities, generate an ENERGY STAR score, track energy savings from implementation of energy efficient measures, and evaluate potential energy saving measures for a facility. With the assistance of ENERGY STAR Measurement and Tracking Tool: Portfolio Manager, facility owners and managers can make more informed decisions on topics and matters that are based on the energy performance of their facility.

By entering basic information about a facility and its energy consumption data, the tool calculates annual energy consumption, which can be compared to other similar facilities using the International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA) benchmarking data. Some facilities that meet certain criteria can take this further and use the tool to benchmark energy usage against facilities across the nation and determine the building’s ENERGY STAR score.

Setting Up a Facility for an ENERGY STAR Score

After registering as a Portfolio Manager user, the next step is to create a facility in Portfolio Manager and populate the necessary data with the following:

•        Essential building information such as year built, building type, floor area, number of occupants, etc.

•        Break out space uses that are fundamentally different from the defined core building space.

•        Twelve (12) months of monthly energy consumption data.

Facilities can be grouped in Portfolio Manager to show how certain groups of facilities may be performing against an entire portfolio or within the group. For example, if the portfolio consists of retail buildings and distribution centers, these different types of buildings can be grouped together, thus allowing comparison of a facility’s performance against its specific group. ENERGY STAR scores are only available for individual buildings.

This rating system is based on statistically representative models that compare the energy consumption of a building to similar buildings from a national survey conducted by the United States Department of Energy every four years called the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). This survey collects data, such as building characteristics and energy usage, from buildings located across the United States. A building’s peer group for comparison are those buildings in the CBECS survey that have similar building and operating characteristics. Essential information from this survey can highlight facility performance criteria such as:

•        Environmental – Shows rating, EUI, change from baseline energy use, and change from GHG emissions.

•        Financial – Shows annual cost of energy, water, and cost/SF of energy and water.

•        GHG Emissions – Shows EUI, current GHG emissions, baseline GHG emissions, and change from baseline.

•        Water Use – Shows water use, water cost, wastewater use, and wastewater cost.

•        Energy Use – Shows rating, EUI, source EUI and change from baseline.

A score of 50 indicates that the building, from an energy consumption standpoint, performs better than 50% of all similar buildings nationwide, while a score of 75 indicates that the building performs better than 75% of all similar buildings nationwide. Ultimately, EPA expresses the rating on a 1-100 scale where 1 point on the scale represents 1 percentile of the commercial building market.

Similar to tracking energy consumption, Portfolio Manager allows for tracking of water use on a meter by meter basis. Portfolio Manager allows water consumption data monitoring from any meter on the property. Indoor usage, outdoor usage and sewer meters can be monitored. Units of measurement include cubic feet and gallons and there is also a place to input the cost associated with the water monitored by the meter. By using this tool, water consumption can be tracked over time and can illustrate water and cost savings associated with any water efficiency projects.

10 Great Reasons for ENERGY STAR Certification

Generating an ENERGY STAR score is the first step in the ENERGY STAR building certification process. To be eligible for the ENERGY STAR certification, a building must first receive a score of 75 or higher. For the building to achieve the ENERGY STAR certification, the statement of energy performance must be validated by a licensed professional who is familiar with building systems. Generating a score is also one of the primary ways to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (EBOM).

ENERGY STAR certified buildings are good for the environment too and good for the bottom line by offering 10 compelling reasons why your organization should pursue America’s most trusted symbol of energy efficiency for your properties.

1.     Lower operating costs, on average 35% less energy than similar buildings nationwide, with office buildings costing $0.50 less per square foot to operate than their peers. In 2014, ENERGY STAR certified buildings saved $1.4 billion, or an average of nearly $200,000 per building.

2.     More marketable making your buildings all the more attractive to potential buyers and lessees who want guaranteed savings.

3.     Reduced greenhouse gas emissions prove you’re joining the front lines in the fight against climate change.

4.     Lease to federal tenants because Executive Order 13514 mandates that Federal Agencies may only lease space in ENERGY STAR certified buildings.

5.     Higher rental rates by $2.40 per square foot than similar buildings, plus occupancy rates are 3.6% higher when compared to similar buildings.

6.     Increased asset value makes it more likely that the higher net operating income from energy cost savings will be recognized through higher building valuation.

7.     Manage risk when developing properties by mitigating risks to profitability by validating assumptions made during the development appraisal, such as operating costs, rents, asset value, and occupancy.

8.     Hedge against future mandates by being in a better position to respond to any future laws or mandates that come your way like AB 1103 and AB 758.

9.     No cost to minimal set-up costs for using all of EPA’s tools and resources, including Portfolio Manager and third party implementation and certifications.

10.  It’s just the right thing to do as 68% of adults like to do business with companies that are environmentally responsible.

ENERGY STAR Building Categories

Based on the information found in Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), Portfolio Manager will compare a facility to others with similar operating characteristics. If the operating characteristics of the facility cannot be properly compared to similar types of facilities across the nation, then a score cannot be determined and assigned. However, for those buildings that are not currently eligible to receive a score, most can receive a national average for comparison. By meeting the criteria set forth by the EPA, Portfolio Manager can accurately model and compare a facility to others.

As of 2015, the types of ENERGY STAR building categories are as follows, however, EPA is always working to develop scoring criteria for additional segments of the commercial building market.

•        Bank branch

•        Barracks

•        Courthouse

•        Data center

•        Distribution center

•        Financial office

•        Hospital (general medical & surgical)

•        Hotel

•        K-12 school

•        Medical office

•        Multifamily housing

•        Non-refrigerated warehouse

•        Office

•        Refrigerated warehouse

•        Residence hall/ dormitory

•        Retail store

•        Senior care community

•        Supermarket/grocery store

•        Wastewater treatment plant

•        Wholesale club/supercenter

•        Worship facility

The final criteria category that must be met is the energy data. To receive a score, the utility meter readings for all energy types consumed by the facility must be input. Utility meters must be in place to monitor the facility’s total consumption. If a building’s energy consumption is monitored by a meter that supplies more than one building and there is no sub-meter, the building is not eligible for a rating. Additionally, at least twelve (12) months of utility consumption data is required for each meter and no individual electrical meter reading can span more than 65 days.

Understanding the Facility’s Performance

The statement of energy performance summarizes the facility’s energy performance rating over a selected twelve (12) month period, total energy consumption, site and source energy use intensity (EUI), emissions, greenhouse gas emissions and a national average comparison.

Because Portfolio Manager makes it possible to view the many aspects of the performance of a facility, it allows facility managers to pick and choose performance targets. Based on the facility’s score, performance targets will fall into one of three categories.

•        The first category is for facilities that are performing below average and typically receive an energy performance score between 1 and 49. If the facility receives a score within this range, it should be seen as a wake-up call, especially for facilities that have assumed they were performing well. These facilities are underperforming, and the steps to improvement may be more costly, likely requiring investment in energy-efficient equipment and implementing best practices for the maintenance and operation of the equipment. However, these facilities have the greatest potential for energy and greenhouse gas reductions.

•        The second category is for facilities that are performing at average or above average levels, but not at the level necessary to receive the ENERGY STAR. These facilities typically receive an energy performance score between 50 and 74. The steps for improvement in this category may not be as intensive as the first and the goal is to tighten up the operation of the facility in order to optimize the performance of the building’s equipment to reduce energy consumption. In addition, some equipment upgrades may be necessary to further improve a facility’s performance.

•        The third category is for facilities performing significantly better than their peers, and buildings in this category are eligible to receive the ENERGY STAR certification. These facilities typically receive an energy performance score between 75 and 100. A facility that receives a score within this category boasts current operations and equipment that has allowed it to reduce energy consumption and improve operating efficiency. From here, success can be built upon by using Portfolio Manager to track the facility to help further improve its efficiency and also discover problems that may occur with its operations.

Setting and Interpreting Energy Performance Goals

The next step is to set goals and targets for improving energy efficiency. Portfolio Manager has features that allow the user to set energy performance goals and estimate how much energy will need to be saved to meet those goals. This feature allows reasonable goals and targets to be set for the facility and provides an estimate of how much energy must be saved to achieve the goals.

Energy savings can be tracked as energy conservation measures are implemented. The impact of past energy-saving measures as a whole across the entire facility can also be estimated. Once energy performance improvements have been implemented, one would want to be able to evaluate how much energy these improvements have saved. If energy performance improvements have been implemented in the past, Portfolio Manager can also help in evaluating the savings received from these improvements as a whole or over a period of time.

By using the tracking tools, continuously collecting information about the facility and setting new energy performance targets, sustainability goals can be achieved. Consultants with industry expertise and relevant training such as the LEED AP Operations & Maintenance, Facility Management Professional (FMP), and the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) credentials can provide ENERGYSTAR Portfolio Manager set-up, monitoring, and benchmarking services.

For more information on how to make this happen, please contact Corey Lee Wilson at CLW Enterprises at (951) 415-3002, or follow the link to Information used for this article was borrowed from the 2011 IFMA Foundation Sustainability Guide – EPA’S ENERGY STAR Measurement and Tracking Tool: Portfolio Manager.

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