Scoop: Tesla buys test track in 35-acre deal

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Tesla Motors Inc. has bought about 35 acres in Fremont adjacent to its factory from Union Pacific Railroad, giving the company more room to vroom its electric cars on a test track there.

Tesla closed on the deal this week, according to records on file at the Alameda County Clerk Recorder’s office.

The property is located south of the Tesla plant, near the intersection of Mission Boulevard and the UP rail line.

We’d love to know what Tesla paid for the property, but I wasn’t able to determine a purchase price Friday morning.

Telsa is perhaps the obvious choice. The land includes more than half of a road test track previously built by former landownerNew United Motor Manufacturing Inc. that runs along the eastern side of the industrial campus.

The news comes as Tesla announced last week it intended to boost production big time in the coming quarters. CEO Elon Musk said the company was producing well more than 400 cars per week and would ramp up to 800 cars per week by 2014. All of Tesla’s vehicles are made in its Fremont factory.

Tesla and Union Pacific didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

City officials Friday greeted the news with enthusiasm.

“They’re one of our key anchor tenants for Fremont and are the poster child for advanced manufacturing,” said Kelly Kline, the city’s economic development director. “This site obviously is of key importance to their operations, being that is houses the test track. We’re pleased they were in the position to buy it.”

The deal represents the balance of Union Pacific’s land holdings to the south of the plant. UP bought the property from New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) when the car manufacturing plant went bust in March 2010. In July 2012, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.purchased about 22 acres of the southern parcel adjacent to Kato Road.

Bob Steinbock, who marketed the site that sold to Telsa for UP, said that interest in the property was high.

Steinbock and colleague Joe Moriarty are still actively marketing 109 acres of bare land to the north of the plant through commercial brokerage CBRE. (You can read more about that offering here.)

Nathan Donato-Weinstein covers commercial real estate and transportation for the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Benefits Of Retirement Communities

retriement-golf-pictureAs you approach retirement there can be a lot of questions that need answers. Perhaps, the most prevalent one is, where to live? You need to consider lifestyle, location, social interactions, and finances. You want a place that is low maintenance and but still kept nicely. Most of all, peace of mind is more valuable than anything that you could buy. As you get older and approach retirement, consider a retirement home. There are many benefits to choosing to live in the retirement home.

Why?

When living in a retirement community each resident typically lives in their own private space, which is usually something along the lines of an apartment or condominium. However, even though the person is living independently retirement homes often offer communal dining space, recreational events, transportation, and assisted living. Retirement homes are increasing growing as well as the amenities they offer. The reason for the surge of development is that people can enjoy freedom from home ownership as well as peace of mind about future medical needs. Consider some of the advantages to living in a retirement community.

A Few Things to Think About

One of the most appealing aspects is that people living in retired communities are freed from home maintenance. When things go wrong in our houses it can be a hassle to either fix or hire someone to do the repair. By living in a retirement community you don’t have worry about maintenance or repair to your home that will be covered by the housing staff. It is not a bad idea to downsize, as you get older. Retirement communities offer you easily downsize to ranch style community. Moving into a smaller living space will also let you consider what possessions are really important instead of leaving your loved ones to decide.

Get out More

Retirement communities like Nathan Carlisle Homes are great places to expand your social connections. This is a vital part that can become neglected when we get older. Many communities offer catered restaurant style dining that could be a wonderful place to meet and share a meal with new people. Also, many homes come with a full kitchen, for when residents feel like cooking or entertaining for the night. Also, many recreational activities are available at retirement communities. There are planned movie nights, game tables, and sometime even dances. Many communities have a full time events coordinator that plans and organizes different outings for the residents. Likewise, exercise opportunities are readily available. Retirement homes often offer pools and fully outfitted gyms to help guest stay physically fit. Perhaps one of the most appealing parts of retirement communities is the assisted living option. If you have special needs or simply want the peace of mind of having a hand around the house, retirement communities are a great place to look. Retirement homes have trained and qualified staff that is able to assist those in need.

Retirement homes offer what can be nearly impossible to buy- peace of mind. Through living in a retirement home you can enjoy the benefits of your old age, in environment that is catered to your needs.

Ben recently earned a B.A. and is enjoying life as a free bird in sunny Southern California.  He has a degree in communications and writes vocationally.

Detroit faces long road through bankruptcy, officials say

View of the Detroit skyline is seen looking south up Woodward Avenue in DetroitView of the Detroit skyline is seen looking south up Woodward Avenue in Detroit (REBECCA COOK, REUTERS
by Nick Carey –
DETROIT (Reuters) – Michigan Governor Ricky Snyder and Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr sought on Friday to assuage residents’ concerns over the city’s bankruptcy proceedings while acknowledging that a lengthy court battle awaits.

“We’re the comeback state in Michigan, but to be a great state we need… Detroit on the path to being a great city again,” Snyder, a Republican, said at a press conference.

On Thursday Detroit, a former manufacturing powerhouse and cradle of the U.S. automotive industry, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, making it the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.

Snyder acknowledged that the bankruptcy would be seen as a new low point for the city, but said “this is the day to stabilize Detroit.”

Orr, who was appointed by Snyder in March to try to resolves the city’s financial crisis and $18.5 billion in long-term debt, addressed concerns that art works at the Detroit Art Institute or other city assets would be auctioned off to pay off creditors who have been offered pennies on the dollar.

“Right now there’s nothing for sale,” he said.

Detroit has tens of thousands of creditors and the city already faced a number of lawsuits before filing for bankruptcy and experts expect the court case could last years and cost tens of millions of dollars.

Orr acknowledged that the court battle could be protracted and difficult, saying that straight off the bat the city will “have an eligibility fight, I suspect” over his right to file bankruptcy.

News of Detroit’s bankruptcy, meanwhile, sent prices tumbling across the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market, which has been on a weak footing for weeks thanks to uncertainty about the future of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s massive stimulus program.

“Detroit is bleeding through into the general market right now,” said Domenic Vonella, an analyst at Municipal Market Data(MMD). “This is the icing on the cake.”

Yields on top-rated, 30-year general obligation bonds rose by between 5 and 9 basis points to near 4.1 percent, their highest in a month, MMD data showed.

(Reporting By Nick Carey; Additional reporting by Edward Krudy in New York; Editing by Dan Burns)

LOOKING BEYOND HYPERBOLE TO CONFIRM THE REAL DATA BEHIND HEALTH CLAIMS FOR GREEN BUILDINGS

By Michael Cockram –

The link between health and green building seems natural. More daylight, fresh air, and reduced emissions from fossil fuel read like a recipe for wellness. But there are those who use things like LEED certification as a marker of healthy building when the facts don’t always align with the claims.

—– Advertising —–

For example, Duke Realty, an Indiana health-care-facility developer, extols on its website the healthy attributes of a recent project that achieved LEED Gold certification, asserting, “Green buildings typically have better indoor air quality than conventional facilities.” However, the certification was for LEED for Core & Shell. This category doesn’t include the finish-out of tenant spaces and avoids a primary culprit in indoor air quality: toxic emissions from finish materials.

On the other hand, a 2010 study done by Michigan State University titled “Effects of Green Buildings on Employee Health and Productivity” found that LEED buildings do create healthier work environments. Despite the fact that the scope of the research was limited to only two case studies (the Christman Building and the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union), the authors of the report concluded that “these preliminary studies lend support to expectations of improved IEQ [indoor environmental quality] and occupational health and public health outcomes from expanded use of green office buildings.” Expectations are not evidence, and the Michigan State researchers were aware of the limitations of drawing conclusions from subjective employee surveys, their method of evaluation in this study.

Common sense and a lot of science warn that breathing toxic chemical gases in unventilated or unexhausted environments is hazardous. That’s the presumptive logic on which this and similar studies are based. Future research will most likely broaden its scope to measure accurately the cause before extrapolating its effect.

Fact fishing and sound bites

This is why studies, particularly those of the preliminary kind, are so susceptible to distortion. A 2011 Fox News headline shouted out: “Green Buildings, Hazardous to Health?” Beyond that hyperbole, the story cherry-picked its way through an Institute of Medicine study on the potential impacts of climate change on IEQ. The story focused on the possible negative effects of “weatherization” methods such as adding insulation and tighter construction.

“To say something is green because you’ve increased tightness or insulation is inappropriate,” says Carnegie Mellon architecture professor Vivian Loftness, a coauthor of the study. She points to the passive-house technique of using heat-exchange ventilation as an example of green building that actually improves fresh-air delivery rates compared with conventional homes. “It’s a package deal; you don’t build supertight without a ventilation system,” she adds.

The Fox story also omitted the recommendations of the researchers, which called for updated codes, more testing, and regulation by the EPA of toxic emissions from materials.

Some researchers have criticized the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for the fact that it’s possible to tailor a LEED Platinum certification without any indoor-air-quality credits. But the critics provide no data to show how LEED buildings actually perform.

The National Research Council of Canada released a study this year that is the most extensive to date on how green buildings perform in terms of indoor air quality. Comparing 12 pairs of conventional and green buildings (most were LEED-certified or candidates), the study found that the green buildings did have better indoor air quality. According to research-team member Guy Newsham, the data supported the premise that such buildings have lower levels of indoor pollutants and higher ratings for occupant well-being, among other positive attributes.

Small steps create big savings for building owners, report details

By Jennifer Inez Ward –

Small steps create big savings for building owners, report details

It doesn’t take much for building owners to enjoy a savings bonanza from energy efficiency, as the non-profit Carbon War Room explains in a report today. However, despite the potential, many private building owners miss out on the financial rewards of readily available technology.

The white paper, “Raising the Roof: How to Create Climate Wealth Through Energy Efficiency,” says misinformation and a lack of understanding are just a few reasons why building owners leave easy money on the table. That’s according to research gathered from 30 municipalities, from Chicago, to Wellington, New Zealand, over 30 months.

Yet with key steps, buildings can slash their energy use by 80 percent, cutting more than $78 billion per year from the electricity bills of American consumers and businesses. The report provides building owners and city sustainability officers with fine points about harnessing technology, finance and policy.

kW-FIELD for iPad by kWhOURS“We already have an industry and commercial technologies that could achieve a 3 to 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions with little to zero upfront costs,” said Joshua Kagan, the Carbon War Room‘s operation lead for building energy efficiency. “We can globally abate a gigaton-level of carbon dioxide and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits.”

Kagan points out that many building owners are waiting for some sort of breakthrough.

“There’s been a misperception that we need future technologies to be discovered or created to drive down emissions and we already have those technologies today,” he said.

So how can commercial and private building owners begin to capture some of that money?

A deep retrofit primarily of ventilation, temperature and high-performing light systems can add $3 to $30 per square foot to the value of office space for an occupant, the report says. That’s based on potential productivity gains of 1 to 5 percent. This type of retrofitting can include installing new HVAC systems, windows, lightbulbs and ventilation systems; monitoring energy use to gauge room for improvement; and using energy storage. In addition, government programs and policies can help with costs associated with retrofits.

“Energy efficiency is both the challenge and the opportunity,” Kagan said. “If you’re a business and you’re able to reduce efficiency costs to a building, which oftentimes is the largest expense, you can reduce the operating costs (and) therefore increase the value of the building.”

Software plays an important role in benchmarking, auditing, implementation and capital upgrades, the report details. Building operators can use analytics from FirstFuelor Retroficiency, for example, to monitor building energy usage. The Peer Building Benchmarking database of more than 120,000 buildings can aid with meeting Energy Star best practices. And tablet-based apps such as those fromkWhOURS can assist with auditing.

Until recently, municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals have paid the most attention to energy efficiency, but more commercial building owners are starting to invest.

The Carbon War Room’s research included:

•  Examining energy systems that worked and that needed improvements.

•  Looking at cities’ energy benchmarks to gauge whether they’ve helped in savings.

•  Using software to track the energy output of municipalities studied.

•  Gathering feedback on the hurdles and opportunities of launching energy plans.

The Carbon War Room advocates that building owners choose from among many energy models rather than follow a “one size fits all” approach. In addition, creating a budget for upgrades and marketing and communications about any new changes are key. While the future is bright for energy efficiency worldwide, however, many obstacles interfere.

“We have some big barriers, like high upfront costs to do retrofits, and building owners just don’t have the capacity,” Kagan said. “Either they don’t have the capital to do it themselves or they don’t have the capacity to source additional debt. … Another barrier is the lack of data and information about how a project has performed historically. So much project data is confidential; there’s no open source database that tracks historical performance.”

In addition, legal and structural challenges such as mortgage covenants can prevent the sourcing of additional debt. But even with significant barriers, energy efficiency for commercial buildings will continue to grow by leaps and bounds around the world.

“We estimate that $100 million in projects will be (privately) funded this year and this will scale to $1 billion within three years,” said Kagan.

Building image by Anton Havelaar via Shutterstock

The Must-Have Resources for Community Managers, According to Them

by  –

Community Manager Resources

Generating, growing, and engaging a group of people on social media in support of a business or a brand is no easy feat. As we’ve seen in a number of previous articles on Sprout Insights, the role of a community manager is a multi-faceted career involving very specific skills sets, connections, and resources in order to be successful in one’s job.

Whether it’s visiting a trusted blog to keep up with social media marketing or industry specific news, or attending a trade show or conference to commiserate and share ideas with peers, savvy community managers typically have an array of go-to activities that help them do their jobs.

We spoke with a number of professional community managers and asked them to list a few of their personal must-have resources. If you’re a community manager or actively involved in social media marketing, feel free to check out any of the following resources (and community managers) to help you do your job more effectively.

Tim McDonald: HuffPostLive

Tim McDonald - HuffPost Live

Tim McDonald is the Community Manager for HuffPostLive  — the live-streaming portal for Huffington Post. He’s also the founder of My Community Manager, which is called the “community for community managers.” In these roles, Tim has occasion to sample and use a whole host of tools and resources that help him in his job. Here are three of his favorites.

Twitter: Tim says Twitter “is far and away the best way for me to stay up on people and trends.” He uses it for research on topics, and keeps lists to follow people more effectively.

Google Hangouts: “For as great as Twitter is for staying up on people and trends, Google Hangouts allows me to engage, in the purest form, with members of my community,” says McDonald. “It’s taken the place of the telephone for me in most cases.”

GPS for the Soul App: This is an app built by Huffington Post. “This tool allows me to calm down and get centered when my stress level rises. The app allows me to scan my blood pressure, and then do breathing exercises or stretching at my desk.” McDonald adds that this app is a great way for him to de-stress without having to “unplug” from the rest of the world.

Khaleelah Jones: Welltok

WellTok

Khaleelah Jones is all about the tools when it comes to the best community management resources in her role as U.K. based Manager of Community and Content for WellTok.

Confluence: “This is my go-to tool for community management. Confluence is where I keep all my data, vital sources such as my editorial calendar and style guide, lists of contributors — everything!”

Social Fresh: “This is my go-to resource for all things social media news related. Although my company runs its own social media site, I use the Social Fresh website to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and so on.”

Well+Good: “This is very valuable resource specific to the health and wellness industry. I visitWell+Good not only for its content, but because it also has a very vibrant community. I love to get ideas and inspiration on how they cultivate adoption and engagement within its network.”

Jonha Revesencio: Freelance Community Manager

Jonha
Sticking with the theme of powerful tools to help make the job of community management more effective, Jonha Revesencio, a freelance community manager based in Singapore, lists the following as her must-have community management resources.

E-Consultancy: “It’s my go-to-resource when it comes to market research, digital marketing trends, case studies and other industry-related analysis.” Jonha says that “it’s important for every community manager to keep learning in order to make better strategic plans for the communities we’re handling.”

The Community Manager: “Without a doubt this website is the main source for all my community management-related information, including the latest news, case studies and reports. Its contributors provide valuable insights and first-hand experiences on how to better build, manage and improve communities.”

Facebook Groups for Community Managers: Jonha uses a variety of private Facebook Groups for community managers to share resources, tips, tools, and updates with other community managers around the world. “It’s easy, quick, and allows community managers to ask questions with fellow social media practitioners to resolve issues in the community.”

Brandie McCallum: My Community Manager

My Community Manager

Brandie McCallum is both a freelance community manager and a co-producer of the My Community Manager web portal.

When asked about her must-have resources, Brandie replied without hesitation, “to be effective at my job, I need Twitter!” She says that it’s a great place to ask questions and participate in some of her favorite Twitter chats including bizforum and #cmgrhangout.

Interestingly, Brandie says that perhaps the most important resource for her as a community manager is in-person meetups with real people. “The very best way for me to do my job, is to actually go out and meet people! I use conferences, Meetup and Eventbrite to find great events, reach out to new people to meet, and basically come out from behind the computer.” Brandie says that for her, “offline connections are just as important as online.”

Mariana Nepomuceno: ReverbNation

ReverbNation

Like Brandie McCallum, Mariana Nepomuceno — community manager for ReverbNation says that she gets a lot of inspiration for the content she posts from the offline world. Mariana explains, “our audience consists mostly of independent and emerging musicians who follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get music industry news and DIY tips. So what do I do to deliver it in a way they’d be interested? I listen and talk to my audience in the ‘real’ world.”

Mariana says talking to her co-workers, many of whom are independent musicians, allows her to find out what’s hot in the indie music scene and where the best local shows are happening. As a non-musician, Mariana says “I’m not part of my audience, I’m not a musician, so in order to achieve maximum engagement in our conversations online, I have to go out of my way offline to understand them.”

Finally, Ms. Nepomuceno has an insight that’s applicable to community managers of every stripe, no matter what type of communities they may be managing online. “I think the important message here is, no matter what industry you’re in, make sure not only to understand your audience, but to learn to speak their language as well.”

Google pushes into Palo Alto with big property purchase

Google Inc. has bought almost 15 acres in Palo Alto, picking up a portfolio of seven older industrial properties and a small parcel of bare land off East Meadow Circle in what could be a redevelopment play.

Public records show Google acquired the properties this week from Menlo Park-based California Pacific Commercial Corp., a longtime Valley real estate firm.

The properties are all on East Meadow Circle. Their addresses are 1015, 1020, 1025, 1036, 1040, 1085, and 1086 East Meadow Circle. Those properties, plus a one-acre chunk of bare land on nearby Fabian Way, total about 14.75 acres.

No price was given in the public records that I reviewed. The Registry, which first reported the sale Monday but did not initially disclose the buyer, said the properties traded for $60 million to $70 million.

Rumors of Google’s interest in the offering — a rare opportunity to control a large chunk of land in red-hot Palo Alto — had been buzzing around for weeks. Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday. Also on Monday, California Pacific Commercial did not respond to a request for comment. Brokers with Jones Lang LaSalle, which marketed the property could not immediately be reached.

The property is just across Highway 101 from Google’s stronghold of the North Bayshore area of Mountain View.

The area on East Meadow Circle has been “singled out” for zoning changes to lure newer commercial users, according to Palo Alto Online.

I’m unaware of a Google making a previous purchase in Palo Alto. The company has made a big shift toward owning its office properties in Mountain View in recent years.

The news comes soon on the heels of Google pausing construction on its 1.1-million-square-foot Bayview office campus.