DOE Finalizes Furnace Fan Energy Efficiency Standards


New efficiency standards will save consumers money

The Department of Energy announced final furnace fan energy efficiency standards today, the one-year anniversary of the release of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

“The part of the Climate Action Plan that got the most attention was the EPA rules on power plants,” but the plan was packed with smaller DOE measures that will add up over time, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at a Washington, D.C., forum hosted by the League of Conservation Voters. “We are making progress [because] of the president’s commitment to move forward [as] aggressively as we can,” Moniz said.

DOE has finalized eight energy efficiency standards since last June — including measures for walk-in freezers, flood lights and electric motors. The agency has also produced nine proposed standards, including for commercial clothes washers and overhead lamps.

The new furnace fan standards could reduce the device’s energy use by 46 percent, DOE said. It would also save US consumers about $9 billion and reduce 34 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 20 years, DOE said. Obama has pledged to collectively cut 3 billion metric tons of carbon emissions through his two terms’ worth of administration actions, the equivalent of one year’s worth of emissions from the nation’s electricity system, DOE said.

Furnace fans push air through ductwork to circulate hot or cold air in homes. DOE started the rule making process for furnace fans in 2010 and finalized a test procedure for the devices — adopted from an industry proposal — at the beginning of the year.

Under the new rule, the current furnace fan industry value of $350 million would drop by about $60 million, plus there would be an additional $40 million in costs to comply with the rules over the next five years, according to DOE. The rule includes modular blowers, which was a point of disagreement between DOE and the industry under the proposed rule.

The net benefit of the rule when including the “social cost of carbon” would be between $1.4 billion to $2 billion per year, DOE said.

“Today’s Department of Energy efficiency rule — the first of its kind and one that we see as an important step forward — is another sign that the administration is serious about meeting President Obama’s efficiency goals of reducing carbon pollution by a cumulative 3 billion metric tons by 2030 through standards for appliances and federal buildings,” said Meg Waltner, manager for building energy policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement.

World record for largest vertical garden

24-storey green feature helps Tree House save over $500,000 a year

City Developments Limited (CDL) has officially set a Guinness World Record for the largest vertical garden in the world. The 2,289 m2 structure adorns CDL’s Tree House condominium in Bukit Timah, Singapore and has attracted visitors from all over the world since its completion in 2013.

The record-breaking garden was designed to look aesthetically beautiful and also provide a number of benefits for the building including substantial water and energy savings.

The company predict that the garden is expected to achieve air-conditioning energy savings of between S$12,000 and S$24,000 annually for the 48 west-facing master bedrooms that are insulated by the vertical wall.

“A natural insulation, the vertical garden reduces the estate’s carbon footprint by filtering pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air. It reduces heat absorption and lowers the energy needed to cool indoor spaces,” say CDL.

The garden is just one of a number of green features in the Tree House, which combined are expected to save the building over S$500,000 annually in energy and water savings.

Mr Kwek Leng Joo, CDL Deputy Chairman, said, “With the eco-inspired Tree House, CDL has not only created a place where residents are proud to call home but more importantly, a green icon which placed Singapore in the world map.”

America’s oldest net positive home remodel – How did they do it? Free Webinar

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“When my wife Kelly and I bought our 110 year old Folk-Victorian home in Ann Arbor’s Old West Side Historic District, it was a dreamInside Mission Zero come true: drafty old windows, lead paint, zero insulation, a half-century old furnace, asbestos siding, a gas powered mower in the shed and even a few pieces of coal scattered around the back yard. What more could a couple ask for? From the start we knew that homes use an astonishing 22% of energy consumed in the U.S. In fact, your home uses far more energy than your car. Home energy costs have skyrocketed to an average of $2200 per year. Old homes use even more than their fair share of the energy pie. . . .But using resources to build big new “green” homes to save resources just seems ironic. There are 130 million existing homes in the U.S.; half were built before 1972.” – Matt Grocoff

Matt Grocoff photo by Cybelle CodishImagine an existing home in a cold weather climate that produces more energy than it consumes, even with an electric car plugged in and can prove it! Come learn more about what you can do in your next remodel to go beyond conventional green and push the envelope without breaking the bank. You will also get a hint of Matt’s goals to achieve Net Zero Water and learn a little bit more about his pursuit of the Living Building Challenge.

“So, retrofitting America’s old homes is not just about preserving history, it is indeed about protecting our future.” – MG

Matt is the founding principal of the THRIVE Collaborative working to create life-enhancing buildings that harvest their own energy and water, create zero waste and are beautiful and restorative.

He was honored as a 2012 Michigan Green Leader by the Detroit Free Press, called a “proven zero energy master” by Green Building Elements and one of “Greater Detroit’s most progressive personalities” by MyFord Magazine.  He is co-founder of Mission Zero Fest and a nationally renowned advocate and thought-leader on net zero energy buildings, Living Buildings and restorative design. Matt is host of Greenovation.TV, a contributor to the Environment Report on public radio, contributor to FOX2 News EnergyTeam, writer and the green renovation expert for Old House Web and

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America's Oldest Net Zero House color corrected v.2

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The Tesla effect: Toyota subsidiary leases new Fremont warehouse space

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Call it the Tesla effect: Another supplier has moved out of the automaker’s factory, leasing space nearby as growth continues for the electric car company.

Toyota Tsusho America Inc., or TAI, this month inked a five-year lease for 64,396 square feet of warehouse space at a Prologis-owned complex at 41470 Boyce Road in Fremont. The company has been working inside Tesla’s Fremont factory since 2010, but Tesla has been expanding its own production use inside the facility, sending suppliers like TAI searching for their own space. In May, my colleagueBlanca Torres wrote about Futuris Automotive Inc., another Tesla supplier,inking a deal for 160,000 square feet in Newark.

Yet tenants like TAI and Futuris are finding it tough to find the right space, said Craig Leiker, an executive vice president atKidder Matthews who represented the tenant with colleague James Viso, a senior associate. The landlord was represented by Joe Kelly of CBRE.

“It’s a very tight market for warehouse and industrial,” Leiker told me. “The market vacancy is about 6.7 percent, and Prologis’s vacancy factor is less than 2.”

Leiker said the site met the company’s needs because it was close to the factory and had the right number of truck doors, high ceilings and enough warehouse space. The lease represents an increase for TAI, which is going from about 18,000 square feet to 64,000 square feet. TAI will use the space mostly for warehouse as well as some wheel assembly.

The deal is good news for developers of industrial and warehouse space, who are finally building new projects for the first time in years. Read more about that trend here.

Report Shows Growth In Demand For Green Homes

Green homes use less energyThe US Green Building Council (USGBC) now estimates that there are as many as 150,000 LEED-certified green housing units worldwide, a number that more than doubled between 2011 and 2012 and continues to grow steadily, according to the organization’s LEED in Motion: Residential report released last week.

The report is the latest in USGBC’s popular LEED in Motion series designed to equip readers with the insight and knowledge to understand LEED, the world’s most widely used and recognized green building rating system, and to make the case for sustainable building practices worldwide.

With the official start of summer and Americans bracing for higher energy bills, the benefits of LEED-certified houses are even more pronounced. LEED-certified homes provide 20 to 30 percent savings in energy and water use compared to code-built homes, and they maximize fresh air indoors while minimizing exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants.

“Our homes are more than just spaces that provide shelter,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “Homes touch practically every aspect of our lives and are a critical element of our overall sense of safety, identity and community. Enhancing our homes’ efficiency and resilience offers an extraordinary opportunity to further the revolution in sustainable building and living practices so that it ripples outward to our communities. As demonstrated in LEED in Motion: Residential, this movement is already well under way.”

Featuring a foreword from Nest CEO and founder Tony Fadell, the report explores the multiple LEED rating systems for different types of homes, including new single-family homes as well as new and existing low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise multifamily buildings. USGBC is also developing a rating system for existing single-family homes.

Interesting facts from the report include:

  • There are as many as 150,000 LEED-certified residential units (under LEED for Homes and commercial rating systems)
  • 43% of LEED for Homes units fall into the affordable housing sector
  • The US, Canada and Saudi Arabia are the top 3 countries for LEED for Homes certified units
  • California leads the U.S. in LEED for Homes certified units, followed by Texas

LEED in Motion: Residential also highlights the importance of local policy in spurring the uptake of green homes as well as noting the important connections between green homes and occupant health and well-being.

The report is currently available as a free download on the USGBC website at with hard copies available at Dwell on Design Los Angeles, the largest design event in the US, June 20-22, 2014.

Source: US Green Building Council

Project officials unveil plans for $500M Moscone Center renovation 

  • The Moscone Center will include wider sidewalks and fewer parking spaces at the corner of Howard and Third streets.

A planned major renovation of the Moscone Center will mark the centerpiece of an effort to make San Francisco’s South of Market, specifically the blocks surrounding the convention center, more pedestrian-friendly in the coming years.

A significant chunk of the $500 million project to renovate primarily Moscone South and the nearby area — revealed to the public for the first time Thursday — includes widening sidewalks and reducing parking and driveways at Howard and Third streets.

“This part of The City is not an area that is driver-friendly,” Supervisor Jane Kim said after a presentation at the Moscone Center. “It’s an area [where] we need people to walk and bike.”

Mohammed Nuru, director of the Department of Public Works, which is managing the project, said a plan is also being studied to make the streets surrounding the center, including Howard Street, two directions for drivers.

Regardless of traffic changes, visitors and residents will have better open street-level access to the center, aligning with a greater effort to make the area more walker-friendly.

“Right now Moscone is kind of this wall from Howard to Folsom,” Kim said. “People want to see a lot of the blocks broken up, more crosswalks, and less of a hardscape.”

click to enlargeThe area surrounding the Moscone Center is planned to receive a variety of improvements in an effort to make the neighborhood more pedestrian friendly. - NATHANIEL Y. DOWNES

  • The area surrounding the Moscone Center is planned to receive a variety of improvements in an effort to make the neighborhood more pedestrian friendly.

The outside of Moscone South will be replaced with a taller, glass-coated building featuring multiple outdoor terraces and an additional ballroom with city views. An indoor ballroom will remain intact.

The project will also add more than 8,000 square feet of public space, transform 20,000 square feet of parking into pedestrian-friendly space and replace the pedestrian bridge atop Howard Street.

Construction will be divided into three phases, the first of which primarily consists of excavating a block of dirt under Howard Street in the middle of the 260,000 square-foot exhibit hall beneath Moscone South and the 180,000 square foot hall under Moscone North to better connect the two spaces. The second and third phases will mainly include renovating the Moscone South building. Once completed, the Moscone Center will leave the smallest carbon footprint of any convention center in the U.S., said Craig Hartman, a partner with the project’s architecture firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

The center will tap into the water supply generated from its foundation and harvest rainwater to avoid using any new water for irrigation and flushing, saving 5 million gallons of water annually, according to Hartman. It will also have the largest solar rooftop installation in San Francisco.

“All of these pieces are part of this plan to think about the environment,” Hartman said.

Additionally, officials tout how the project will increase revenue and jobs for The City. The Moscone Center operates at capacity and stands to lose $2 billion in economic activity by 2020 without the expansion, according to project officials.

Kim also emphasized that the project considers the needs of both residents and visitors.

“Tourism is a really key part of our industry, but we want to make sure that whatever is built is also sensitive to the residents that live here,” Kim said.

Public comment closed Monday for the draft environmental impact report, but an informational hearing on the project will be held July 24 before the final EIR is complete, said Lynn Farzaroli with the San Francisco Travel Association.

Following approval, construction is slated to begin in December and last four years.

Sand Hill buys Stanford Research Park gems for $140M

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A joint venture of Sand Hill Property Co. has bought 3175 Hanover St. in Palo Alto, which is home to the Silicon Valley law firm Cooley LLP.

Eight months after picking up the former Facebook headquarters at 1050 Page Mill RoadSand Hill Property Co. has bought another major asset in Palo Alto’s prestigious Stanford Research Park.

This time it bought the headquarters of legendary Silicon Valley law firm CooleyLLP and a nearby parcel that could be a redevelopment site.

A joint venture of Redwood City-based Sand Hill Property Co., the firm headed by veteran investor and developer Peter Pau, acquired Cooley’s roughly 129,000-square-foot building at 3175 Hanover St. The building sits on more than 7 acres of land and is adjacent to Hewlett Packard’sheadquarters at 3000 Hanover.

Sand Hill also acquired a 2.9-acre parking lot at 3300 El Camino, which could be redeveloped to include new office building.

Parties involved in the transaction declined to release the total purchase price, but county title records peg the value of the sale at $140 million.

Sand Hill bought the ground lease for both properties, not the actual land underneath them. (This is standard procedure in this submarket; Stanford University owns all the land in the 700-acre business park, which is home to more than 150 employers, in perpetuity) The seller was Novellus Systems, which was acquired in 2012 by Lam Research. The ground leases run through 2051, according to people with knowledge of the property offering. Cooley is in its building for about another decade.

The transaction is another score for Sand Hill Property, which is currently firing on all cylinders. Sand Hill’s under-construction projects include a medical office building for Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Los Gatosa major campus expansion for Netflix, also in Los Gatos; and Main Street Cupertino, the first major mixed-use development in years in the hometown of Apple Inc.

The property was marketed by Andrew Hueser of Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank, who declined to comment. Financing for the Hanover property was arranged by CBRE Capital Markets’ Debt & Structured Finance Team. In a statement, CBRE said it arranged $86.5 million in non-recourse financing for the property, provided by a “Wall Street lender.” Commercial Mortgage Alert said the lender was Natixis, the French investment bank.

CBRE’s John Nelson declined to discuss the deal in detail. But he said in a statement that the transaction “was one of the most competitive financing situations I have seen in quite some time. The intense competition among lenders was a direct function of the strong location and tenancy of the prospect in addition to the excellent sponsorship.”

Sand Hill’s joint venture partner in the deal is believed to be an affiliate of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund owned by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi that has partnered with Sand Hill in past deals, according to people not directly connected to the transaction. Pau didn’t immediately return a phone call.

Properties in the research park don’t come available often, and when they do, there is very strong interest. The high-profile research park is home to tenants including Tesla Motors, SAP, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, VMWare, Nest Labs and numerous high-tech law firms. Vacancy is below 5 percent.

This is the biggest acquisition in the research park since Sand Hill picked up 1050 Page Mill last year. Sand Hill has proposed a redevelopment of that site, which has been vacant, with plans to transform the 13.5 acres into an architecturally striking office project.