Creating a Fair Living Space for Residents with Disabilities

Most HOAs want to do the right thing, and that includes creating a fair living space for disabled residents. What this means is that the environment allows people with disabilities to have reasonable accommodations so they can get around and enjoy their homes and community amenities. But even with the best of intentions, creating a fair living space in a California HOA can be complicated.

How well do you understand the relevant laws? Some anti-discrimination laws apply to HOAs; others do not. And some only apply under certain circumstances. For example, you would be correct in believing that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to your HOA—most of the time. But it does apply if you allow the public to use any of your facilities, such as the pool, community room, or baseball field.

Adding to the complexities of the federal landscape are California’s own anti-discrimination laws (all of which apply to HOAs):

Beyond doing the bare minimum to comply with state and federal laws, your association may also want to provide additional features to enhance the lifestyle of disabled residents. These features can demonstrate to current homeowners and future buyers that your HOA is sensitive to the needs of disabled people.

If you are thinking about adding features to create a fair living space for disabled homeowners, here are some helpful tips.

Familiarize yourself with the law.
It’s important to understand how the law defines “reasonable accommodations,” what qualifies as “unreasonable,” and who is required to pay for any related costs. A fair living space for one person may differ from what it is for someone else. Perhaps a wheelchair-bound resident needs a ramp, or a resident on disability needs their HOA payment schedule to coincide with when they receive disability checks. But if an accommodation goes against your HOA’s aesthetic standards or creates an unwelcoming environment for most of the other residents, you may not necessarily have to heed the request. It’s a good idea to consult with your HOA attorney and your community manager (if you have one) before deciding how to proceed.

Consider how others may benefit from one resident’s accommodations.
Even if only one person requests an accommodation, it may turn out to be helpful to others. Statistics indicate that approximately 18 percent of Americans have some kind of disability. This number goes up to 72 percent for people 80 years old and above. That’s a significant portion of the population! Accommodations you make for one person may turn out to be helpful to other current or future residents.

Put yourself in others’ shoes.
Many of us take our physical capabilities and mobility for granted. Think about how you might improve the community for residents with physical disabilities like mobility issues, upper body limitations, or speech impediments. And don’t forget that some disabilities may be less obvious. Back or joint problems, as well as chronic pain, are not always evident. Neither are brain injuries, psychiatric issues, or cognitive limitations. Also consider the needs of visually or hearing impaired residents. You may not be able to address every condition, but talk to your community management company, as well as your HOA attorney, to determine if there are ways you might be able to make your community safer and more enjoyable for disabled residents.

Be aware of the unintentional ways that discrimination can happen.
Your attorney can help your board and your community understand how they may unwittingly discriminate and how to spot legal issues with regard to creating a fair living space. For example, promotional materials should not target specific groups to the exclusion of others. Language such as “an over-18 community” or “perfect for young families” can get your HOA into trouble. You also should not “steer” prospective buyers to a particular area of the property. One mistake that is sometimes made is failing to show a disabled person some of the outdoor amenities.

Make activities accessible.
Besides accommodating disabled residents throughout your common areas, remember to be inclusive when it comes to your activities and events. Will those with disabilities be able to participate? Plan ahead, and speak to your community management company when putting together your events calendar.

Your board of directors may want to spend some time discussing other ways you can create a fair living space. For more information, check out these resources: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and California Legal Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

To learn how your community management company can help, contact FirstService Residential, California’s leading community management company.

Choosing the Best Deck Sealer

Pooled water on finished deck with wood grain

Pooled water on finished deck with wood grain











By  –


Contractors are always asking us to recommend a sealer for them based on our experiences. This has become a challenge for us in a way because there are more sealers available than ever before. Years ago we tried every single sealer available, but with the widespread reformulating we saw in the last several years and all the new products popping up it has been hard to keep up with every change. The complications of reformulating any product are obvious, and some sealers changed formulation several times during this short period.

Sealers are made from a number of different bases with a variety of added chemicals. Some adders make the sealer perform better (application, bonding, flow, penetration, etc). Other ingredients simply add bulk to help hold the “cost per gallon” down. For example, what purpose does adding mineral spirits to an oil sealer have? Well, it thins the product to make it easier to spread and it helps carry the sealer into the wood. The fact that mineral spirits have a very low cost also enables a manufacturer to reduce the selling price of his product just by adding more mineral spirits! Of course the EPA has forced this practice to stop, so some manufacturers are actually dropping out of making deck sealers (because they can’t compete).

In any discussion of sealers, it should be understood from the beginning that there is no one perfect product. The most universal product we have ever used is Ready Seal, which we have used on everything from log cabins to docks successfully. Unfortuanetly this product is used more often by contractors than home owners and there are very few resources online it can be purchased from. Just search for ready seal deck sealer online and compart this product yourself, it’s definitely worth the time.


Oil sealers may contain any of several kinds of oil. Oil sealers may be coatings or penetrants or some blend of both characteristics. Pure coatings sit on top of the wood. Pure penetrants sit at and below the surface of the wood. A sealer that leaves any kind of surface coat on the wood is considered a coating, whether that is minor (i.e. 10% coating, 90% penetrant) or a full (100%) coating. Any product that contains linseed oil is a film-forming product (coating) to some degree. Ready Seal is made from 100% paraffinic oil (a crude oil derivative) and is therefore a full penetrant.

Generally speaking, coatings disguise flaws in the surface or flaws in the washing job. The closer they are to being solid color stains, the more they are able to hide flaws. They may be subject to visible wear in traffic areas as well. Coatings should be stripped before applying a new layer because they will not allow new layers to penetrate into the wood and bond to it. Most coatings require careful application, because flaws like drips and runs will show in the final job. In other words, you (or your employees) must have painting skills to apply any coating in a way that it will look good when it is new and as it ages on the wood. Coatings may flake and peel over time if humidity is trapped in the wood.

Generally speaking, penetrants won’t disguise flaws in the surface such as a poor wash job or stains. Penetrants do not show any traffic pattern wear. They normally do not have to be stripped to recoat down the road, either, because the new sealer penetrates through the old coat and bonds directly to the wood. Applications of full penetrants are fully forgiving, which means that drips or lap marks will not show. In other words, less skill is required to apply a penetrating product. Fully penetrating products are not created to be tough like coatings, so they strip relatively easily when you need to remove them.


Water-based finishes are becoming more popular as more and more homeowners attempt doing their own work. These products are sold by the big box stores with tag lines like “cleans up with soap and water” – which are very attractive words to the do-it-yourselfer. Latex and acrylic finishes make up the bulk of these alternative products. Water-based products are film-forming finishes. Water-based products and acrylics are very difficult to maintain and to work with.


PERMEABILITY: Sealers are supposed to be permeable, which means that they allow the wood to “breathe”. This means that ordinary humidity can enter and leave the wood during the normal cycle of the day, but droplets like rain cannot enter the wood. The more pigment the product contains, the less permeable the sealer is. A quality permeable sealer will allow sap to exit the wood without damaging the sealer as it passes through, for example.

Paints are non-permeable, which is why painted decks crack and peel drastically after a short time.

Ever notice what happens to latex paint on a window sill? The humidity present in the wood tries to escape when the sun hits the wood and raises the temperature. Since this moisture cannot pass through paint, the only natural result is that the humidity pushes the paint off of the surface of the wood to escape. That is why paint cracks and peels. This result happens most frequently on window sills (horizontal board) rather that on vertical window trim, because the top end of a vertical board is usually not painted (allowing the humidity to escape). This is why we NEVER paint a wood deck.

VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS: For many years, manufacturers threw out terms like “percentage of solids” as a selling point for their products. In layman’s terms, this refers to the amount of product that remains in the wood after everything that evaporates is gone. What evaporates are called “volatiles” or “VOCs”. The EPA has been tightening regulations on VOCs for years because they harm the quality of the air and the ozone layer. Many sealers have had to reformulate once (or several times) to meet these changing regulations. Every time a manufacturer reformulates, the product characteristics change.

VOCs are often simple mineral spirits or turpentine.

NOTE: “High solids” does not mean that the product is thick. Ready Seal has the highest solids of any oil sealer we know of (87) and is also one of the thinnest oils you will ever work with. It simply doesn’t contain much volume of VOCs.

Sometimes sealers contain manufacturing by-products that manufacturers want to dispose of, such as benzene. A careful examination of the MSDS will reveal a lot to you.

PIGMENT: Pigment is a finely ground, inert, colored powder that is used to create color in your sealer. In most sealers these particles are iron oxides. In sealers it is the iron oxide pigment which gives it UV protection. The UV rays of the sun are reflected away from the wood by these minute iron particles of color before they can penetrate the wood and turn it gray. Over time, the rays of the sun use up the oxide particles, and the wood begins to gray once again.

Clear sealers, in spite of many label claims, do not effectively prevent graying because they contain no pigments. If you have a customer asking for a clear stain, educate them about this. I always repeated their statement back to them but changed the word “clear” to the word “natural”. Once I got them to say the word “natural” I simply asked them if they wanted Natural Cedar or Natural Redwood color.

LIFE: Most sealers are designed to last approximately two years on the horizontal surfaces and four years on the vertical surfaces. Some claim more, some make no claims at all. Customers will usually ask about the life of the product you are suggesting, and it is important that you know that the answer to that question is “Depends…” The life depends on the sealer, the location of the deck, the condition of the wood, the local weather conditions, the use of the deck, etc. Remember that sealers are never guaranteed to ‘look good’ for any amount of time. They are only guaranteed to repel water for a period of time. Manufacturers are notorious for not standing behind their products. They simply blame a poor application by the contractor and leave you holding the bag.

Some manufacturers sell “lifetime” or “25-Year” finishes. These are almost always water-based silicone products. Silicone is an excellent water repellant, and lasts a long time. It cannot ever be fully removed from the wood later on, so selecting one of these products is a permanent decision. The drawback to these products is the UV protection, which often fails within a few years of the initial application. Once the wood starts to turn gray, the nightmare begins. If you can’t strip the product off, how do you get down to the wood to clean it and add more UV protection? There is no answer.


Part of your choice of sealers has to include factors like packaging, manufacturer support, dealer support, availability, exclusivity, colors, etc. The two most important factors to us over the years were 1) customer satisfaction; and 2) ease of training new employees to be successful on their own using the sealer.

Ready Seal enabled us to teach proper sealing techniques and send new employees out on their own with just 2-3 weeks of working with a lead person. The training time saved and the repeat business that we generated with Ready Seal made our choice of which sealer to use pretty easy.

Consider a few other important factors when you think about choosing a sealer. Ready Seal has no temperature limitations for application, which is a huge benefit to contractors. This means that you can use it to seal decks and fences even when the temperature drops down into the 40s or lower! This characteristic alone can add a few months time to your annual cleaning and sealing “season”.

The only thing that limits the use of Ready Seal on wood is the moisture content of that wood.

You don’t have to hold off just because there is a thundershower expected later that day, either. It can rain in as little as 15 minutes after you apply Ready Seal without damaging the look or protection. That adds a lot of extra days back into your work schedule, too!

Other sealers have their benefits and may be easier to get from a local store, but Ready Seal can change your company in ways no other product we have tested could. Sun Brite Supply the only place for Power washing supplies and accessories.

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Perfecting Your Property Management Practice


 by  –

Although it has been said that nobody is perfect, there are some who are what I call “near perfect.” After all, since practice makes perfect, why not keep practicing while striving for excellence?

In today’s economy we are at an auspicious confluence of trends that will reward good property managers like never before. The word that sums it up is “demographics, demographics, demographics.” Younger adults, especially those in the age demographic of 21 to 35, don’t have the net worth or the high credit scores needed to be a homeowner. Millions are forced to live with parents or rent. What is often overlooked is the baby-boom generation. This demographic, which still involves nearly 70 million Americans ages 54 through 70 is finding it increasingly difficult to afford the cost of ownership.

Anecdotal evidence and government surveys reveal a rising trend among this age bracket towards renting a place to live. Many are selling to unlock equity in their homes and to pay off mortgage debt. What kind of housing will the sellers in this age demographic choose? A growing number are looking for rental units that cater to the 55-and-older crowd. By some estimates this “crowd” is increasing exponentially. Not only does the government’s census estimate that nearly 10,000 baby-boomers turn 65-years old every single day, but tens of thousands more are turning ages 56 through 64 each day as well!

These factors help introduce the first step towards perfecting your property management business, which is to know the housing needs of your area better than any other property manager. It may take phone calls and visits to your city and county records department or interviewing federal census agents, but get a very accurate handle on the housing needs of these demographic groups. Consider specializing in projects and programs to help these mushrooming millions find safe and affordable rental housing. Market yourself as a property manager who cares and shares this info.

How about all the others steps needed to refine and perfect your management enterprise? The answers are likely to arise if you’re willing to take a suggestion that’s challenging for perfectionist practitioners. Take the advice of one of the most respected, talented and accomplished professionals. His name is Leonardo da Vinci, the awesome Italian architect, engineer, painter, mathematician and scientist. Nearly 500 years after his death, Leonardo is still considered one of the greatest intellects in human history. If you could consult him on the topic of this article, here’s what he would likely recommend:

“Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. For when you return to your work, your judgment will be better and more confident. If you constantly remain at work you’ll cause yourself to lose the power of balance and sound judgment. Yes, really get as far away from your work as you possibly can. Why? It will improve your ability to see your work in perspective and to be able to see all of it, a.k.a. ‘the BIG PICTURE.’ You’ll be able to more accurately perceive what aspects of your business need improving and what action is needed to restore harmony and optimal functioning. Your outlook will improve as well!”

That’s a modern paraphrase of what this Renaissance genius actually wrote. He was telling us all to take time to relax, let go, get away from all the stress and struggle of life from time to time. See how it improves your insights about your personal and professional goals. Notice how it sharpens your perspective, lightens your load, improves your mood and contributes to your health in every way.

Don’t wait for a crisis to find a way to restore your “…power of balance and sound judgment.” Paradoxically, sometimes the less you strive for perfection, the more perfect your efforts will become.

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Brown’s affordable housing plan appears dead for year <![CDATA[
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A plan to usher $400 million into affordable housing subsidies and give developers the right to bypass the local regulatory approvals process has stalled in the Capitol and appears to be dead for the year, the state Assembly speaker told reporters on Thursday.

“I believe it’s over,” California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon told theAssociated Press this week.

Negotiations stopped at least two weeks ago, Rendon said. Lawmakers need to advance the legislation to the governor by the end of August under a legislative deadline.

In the 2016-17 budget, Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers affixed $400 million in affordable housing funding to a controversial “by right” housing plan. The deal sought to quickly increase statewide housing supply by changing local land-use law to automatically approve projects that met existing zoning requirements and included an affordable housing component.


But the proposal angered powerful statewide housing and union groups, including environmentalists, neighborhood and tentant activists and some labor leaders who argue that local permitting is necessary to scrutinize projects and ensure prevailing wages for construction workers.

Community and social justice groups have asked the $400 million be provided to affordable housing without the project streamlining component.

Squeeze Efficiency from Window Upgrades

The investment is substantial, but the benefits of energy-efficient windows outweigh the costs

By Robert Nieminen –

According to one ENERGY STAR estimate, a 10% decrease in energy use for a 200,000-square foot building that spends $2 per square foot in energy would boost the property’s net operating income by $40,000 annually.

Window replacement isn’t cheap, but neither are existing windows that are out of date and inefficient. The opportunity to upgrade comes around infrequently – possibly as part of a broader energy conservation plan funded by one financial package – so owners must maximize their return.

“Windows are an important contributor to the building envelope and can be an integral part of energy conservation strategies,” explains Kerry Haglund, Research Fellow for the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota, in his report “Window Selection Methodologies and Optimization in High-Performance Commercial Buildings.” In fact, the report estimates that 39% of commercial heating energy use and 28% of commercialcooling energy use – 34% of all commercial space conditioning energy use – are attributable to windows (excluding infiltration).

Fortunately, improvements in window technology have greatly improved the performance of window and glazing systems. Today’s windows have lower heat loss, less air leakage and warmer surfaces that help to improve occupant comfort while minimizing condensation. With features such as double- or triple-glazed insulated glass, improved frames and specialized coatings and films, these high-performance windows are effective at reducing heat transfer.

To make a positive investment in a window upgrade, building owners and facility managers should be familiar with specifications, performance measurements, costs and energy savings.

A Holistic Hole in the Existing Wall

Window and glazing options have a number of impacts that should be considered holistically with existing conditions, such as building use, local climate, utility rates, and building orientation. According to the National Institute of Building Science’s Whole Building DesignGuide, these impacts include:

■    Heat gains and losses
■    Visual requirements (privacy, glare, view)
■    Shading and sun control
■    Thermal comfort
■    Condensation control
■    Ultraviolet control
■    Acoustic control
■    Color effects
■    Daylighting
■    Energy requirements

When it comes to determining the performance of any window or glazing solution, it’s important to understand how heat flows through window assemblies. This happens in three ways: conduction (heat traveling through a solid); convection (transfer of heat by the movement of gases or liquids); and radiation (the movement of heat energy through space).

These basic heat transfer mechanisms interact in complex ways and are not typically discussed and measured separately, according to Measure Guideline: Energy-Efficient Window Performance and Selection, a DOE study authored by Haglund and John Carmody. Instead, three energy performance characteristics of windows are widely used to portray energy transfer and are the basis for quantifying energy performance:

■    Insulating value. When there is a temperature difference between inside and outside, heat is lost or gained through the window frame and glazing by the combined effects of conduction, convection, and radiation. This is indicated in terms of the U-factor (the rate of heat loss) of a window assembly.
■    Heat gain from solar radiation. Regardless of outside temperature, heat can be gained through windows by direct or indirect solar radiation. The ability to control this heat gain is measured in terms of the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).
■    Infiltration. Heat is also lost and gained by air leakage through cracks in the window assembly. This effect is measured in terms of the amount of air (cubic feet) that passes through a unit area of window under given pressure conditions. In reality, infiltration varies slightly with wind- and temperature-driven pressure changes.

Facility executives considering window replacements should look to the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) window energy rating system. The NFRC label provides a reliable way to determine window energy properties. It appears on all products certified to the NFRC standards on window, door and skylight products, and offers ratings for U-factor, SHGC, visible light transmittance (VT), and (optionally) air leakage (AL) and condensation resistance (CR) ratings.

Solar heat gain coefficient was a significant factor in the decision to upgrade the glazing of a New York City landmark: the United Nations building. Soon after its completion, the building showed large heat gain and glare problems on its east- and west-facing facades, which had tinted, single-pane glass.

As part of a massive renovation project completed in 2015, 5,040 high-performance insulated panels of laminated, blast-resistant glass with a low-E coating and tinted substrate were installed, as well as automated window shading devices.

Window Specifications

Selecting the appropriate product for the building type and environmental conditions is critical to ensure optimal performance, comfort and return on investment. It’s all about putting the right window unit in the right location.

“Areas that are prone to high winds or high rain obviously need to have that reflected in the window spec,” says Peter Arsenault, founder and principal of Peter J. Arsenault Architect. “As you get higher above ground, you’re prone to more wind and other conditions, so those have to be higher-rated windows,” he explains. “Matching the performance characteristics about the building and the location, as well as the location within the building, are going to be important for maintenance.

To aid in the selection process, specifiers refer to the performance characteristics of different glass types.

Identify a Consultant with Window Experience

“When the time comes, building owners and managers should select an architect or engineer who has extensive experience with window assessment and design,” says May Arason-Li, Commercial Marketing Specialist at Manitoba Hydro. “They will often work together with a reputable window supplier or contractor to physically review the condition of the frames, glass and surrounding structure.  This will also help to determine the best possible options that maximize energy savings and comfort while reducing maintenance.”

Arsenault agrees that it’s wise to bring in an expert who can help with energy modeling early in the process. An expert can perform cost-benefit analysis to help evaluate alternative window systems and estimate performance.

“Usually the first thing that clients need is a specialist or a consultant. It could be an architect who specializes in enclosures or an architect they have a relationship with,” he says.

Costs and Energy Savings

Careful specification of window and glazing systems is essential to the energy efficiency and comfort of all buildings. However, exact savings are difficult to determine because of the large number of variables between buildings as well as climate variations.

“Costs need to be assessed on a building-by-building basis as no two buildings are alike,” says Arason-Li. She adds that building energy modeling software has become more sophisticated and more commonplace.

Nevertheless, according to the Whole Building

Design Guide, when it comes to internal-load dominated commercial, industrial and institutional buildings, properly specified fenestration systems have the potential to reduce lighting and HVAC costs by 10–40%.

Additionally, according to one ENERGY STAR estimate, a 10% decrease in energy use for a 200,000-square foot building that spends $2 per square foot in energy would boost the property’s net operating income by $40,000 annually. Further, ENERGY STAR projects that if the property’s cap rate is 8%, this level of energy savings could potentially increase net asset value by $500,000. Retrofitting commercial windows with energy-efficient options can help realize these potential cost savings.

While upgrading windows in a commercial building requires careful planning and assessing performance versus costs, the payback can be substantial – as much as 30% in the case of the Empire State Building, for example. The lesson is to work with a qualified architect or consultant, buy the highest quality window within budget and then enjoy the view – and the savings.

28 of the 500 fastest growing private businesses in the U.S. are from Bay Area

The Bay Area was well represented, as usual, on Inc. magazine’s annual ranking of the fastest growing privately owned businesses in the country.

The industries represented run the gamut from a Redwood City company that sells “Man Crates” and grew its revenue by 4,900 percent in between 2013 and 2015, to a San Jose cloud storage business that may go public next month and grew sales by 3,566 percent in that same time period.

What used to be known as the “Inc. 500” has grown to the “Inc. 5000” these days and the full list can be found by clicking here.

But here are the companies from the Bay Area, many of them venture-backed, that made it into the top 500 this year. There are 190 companies from the region that made the full Inc. 5000 list this year :

51. Man Crates, Redwood City (4,900 percent growth)— This business ships gifts for men in small wooden crates stuffed with nuts or jerky. $21.6 million revenue in 2015.

68. AppLovin, Palo Alto (4,132 percent growth)— Marketing automation platform and analytics for brands that want to reach new consumers on mobile and Apple TV apps. $234.2 million revenue in 2015.

84. InfoScout, San Francisco (3,602 percent growth)— Company that provides major brands and retailers with consumer shopping data captured through its portfolio of mobile apps. $6.8 million revenue in 2015.

86. Nutanix, San Jose (3,566 percent growth)— Provides a cloud platform that integrates computing, virtualization, and storage for business customers. $241.4 million revenue in 2015.

87. TapClicks, San Jose ( 3,534 percent growth)— Developer of marketing technology for agencies, media companies, brands and enterprises. $5.6 million revenue in 2015.

104. ipsy, San Mateo (3,136 percent growth)— Business co-founded by YouTube vlogger Michelle Phan that delivers monthly customized beauty product samples in “Glam Bags.” $169.3 million revenue in 2015.

108. Maxton & Co., San Francisco (3,036 percent growth)— Provides shrink-wrap, custom bundles, packages, labels, brand management and data analysis for retail brands. $5.1 million revenue in 2015.

129. Lexicon Health, Los Gatos (2,676 percent growth)— Online health and wellness publisher. $3.5 million revenue in 2015.

143. zSpace, Sunnyvale (2,451 percent growth)— Developer of a 3D virtual reality learning tool. $8.7 million revenue in 2015.

147. Touch of Modern, San Francisco (2,424 percent growth)— Curated online shopping website for men. $81.3 million revenue in 2015.

179. Lilee Systems, San Jose (2,071 percent growth)— Developed technology for continuous mobile broadband connections on trains and other moving vehicles. $15.5 million revenue in 2015.

186. Magoosh, Berkeley (1,991 percent growth)— Online test prep company with study programs and apps for the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, TOEFL, Praxis, and LSAT. $7 million revenue in 2015.

199. Drawbridge, San Mateo (1,903 percent growth)— Manages cross-device branding campaigns. $66.1 million revenue in 2015.

201. Trantor, Menlo Park (1,900 percent growth)— Offers software for lending companies that automates lending and credit approval processes. $10 million revenue in 2015.

213. Green Creative, San Bruno (1,842 percent growth)— LED lighting products for the commercial market. $39.6 million revenue in 2015.

221. WePay, Redwood City (1,795 percent growth)— Online payment services and money processing for Web platforms, including GoFundMe and Meetup. $57.8 million revenue in 2015.

237. L2F, Fremont (1,654 percent growth)— Designs modular systems for industrial automation. $2.7 million revenue in 2015.

271. FormSwift, San Francisco (1,470 percent growth)— Electronic business document software provider. $13.6 million revenue in 2015.

273. RobotLAB, San Francisco (1,429 percent growth)— Develops, manufactures and sells educational and retail robots. $5.3 million revenue in 2015.

292. Metamarkets, San Francisco (1,351 percent growth)— Provides interactive analytics for programmatic marketing. $10.3 million revenue in 2015.

299. PagerDuty, San Francisco (1,303 percent growth)— IT software developer that streamlines incident reporting and resolution. $28.1 million revenue in 2015.

385. Tredence, San Jose (994 percent growth)— Provides data visualization, management, and analytics to pharmaceutical, telecom, retail, and consumer product sellers. $3.6 million revenue in 2015.

395. Warrior Media, Soquel (969 percent growth)— Online health and fitness products seller. $2.2 million revenue in 2015.

396. LifeAID Beverage, Santa Cruz (966 percent growth)— Nutritional sports and energy drink seller, popular at Burning Man. $4.4 million revenue in 2015.

404. Sauce Labs, San Francisco (952 percent growth)— Cloud-based platform for the automated testing of Web and mobile applications. $14.3 million revenue in 2015.

432. Annmarie Skin Care, Berkeley (883 percent growth)— Sells organic, handcrafted skincare and makeup. $6.4 million revenue in 2015.

441. Livionex, Los Gatos (868 percent growth)— Life science company that brought to market a product that breaks the bond at the molecular level between plaque and teeth. $2.9 million revenue in 2015.

476. Vets Etc., Seaside (799 percent growth)— Provides logistics consulting services, business process engineering, ERP implementation & support, staffing, business intelligence & data and analytics. $34.1 million revenue in 2015.

Good news: Energy usage falls while global economy grows

arrows_0by Bobby Magill –

The amount of coal, oil, gas and renewable energy used by the global economy is falling quickly, a clear sign that economic growth is having less of an impact on climate change than in the past, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The measure of the amount of energy that is used per unit of gross domestic product is known as energy intensity, and it’s an important indicator in the progress countries are making in tackling climate change. Globally, energy intensity has fallen 30 percent since 1990 and about 2 percent between 2014 and 2015.

“This is excellent news,” Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann said. “The dramatic drop we are seeing in global energy intensity is a very direct indication that energy efficiency measures are having a very direct impact on global carbon emissions.”

Another key indicator is carbon intensity — how much carbon is emitted as a result of the energy people consume.

“The carbon intensity is also decreasing due to the rapid transition that is now already taking place away from fossil fuel burning toward renewable energy,” Mann said.

Energy intensity affects greenhouse gases because much of the energy used in the global economy comes from fossil fuels. As countries use less fossil fuels and become more efficient with their energy use, carbon emissions also will fall.

Energy intensity in the U.S. is roughly average compared to other large countries. The Department of Energy (EIA) estimates that the worldwide energy intensity was about 5,500 Btus per dollar of GDP in 2015, while the U.S. burned about 5,900 Btus per dollar last year.

Canada and Russia are among the most energy-intensive countries in the world, burning about 9,800 Btus per dollar in 2015. Developing countries such as India and Mexico are the least energy intensive. Mexico and Chile burned 3,700 Btus per dollar in 2015, while India used 3,800 Btus per dollar.

Until recently, the global economy and greenhouse gas emissions increased and decreased together. They have long been linked because historically, a growing economy required burning a growing volume of fossil fuels to keep factories and vehicle engines running.

That is beginning to change. The International Energy Agency announced last year that global greenhouse gas emissions produced by burning fossil fuels were the same in 2014 as they were in 2013 despite a growing global economy. The trend continued in 2015 as emissions remained flat even as the world’s economy grew 3 percent.

The reason: More electricity was produced from renewables and natural gas than ever before, and energy is being used more efficiently.

“At a global level, the decline in energy intensity is driven by a variety of factors, ranging from structural changes in economies from more intensive to less, efficiency gains such as fuel efficiency standards, to consumer behaviors — using energy differently,” EIA analyst Ari Kahan said.

More efficient buildings, vehicle engines and power plants are reducing how much energy is consumed per person globally, according to an International Energy Agency report. Efficiency alone reduced energy consumption 18 percent between 1990 and 2014 in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and seven Western European countries.

Globally, the Energy Information Administration expects both the energy and carbon intensity of the global economy to gradually decline (PDF) over the next 25 years.

“We are making headway,” Mann said. “But we need further incentives for policies that will accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels if we are to stabilize warming below dangerous levels.”

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