‘Solution Search’ Disaster Preparedness Contest Wants To Reward You For Great Ideas

By  –


Have an idea that could help your community be more prepared for natural disasters? You could win $25,000 for it.

On the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Rare, a global conservation organization, and its partners are launching a “Solution Search” called “Reducing Our Risk: Innovation for Disaster Preparation.” They hope to attract submissions focusing on weather-related disaster preparation from a range of groups, including government organizations, nonprofits, businesses and individuals.

The goal is not only to identify a winner, but to bring awareness to preparedness and the range of solutions that are out there. The contest’s partners reflect the diversity of stakeholders in disaster preparedness, and include reinsurance company TransRe, The Nature Conservancy, the Evangelical Environmental Network and Save the Children.

“There’s no silver bullet for disaster preparedness in the United States,” Brett Jenks, CEO of Rare, told The Huffington Post. “We want to learn … what the range of categories, the range of approaches is right now,” Jenks said. Potential solutions could “range from some way of pooling risk financially … to a technology that makes it less likely for a house to blow down in a wind event, to the kind of infrastructure that a coastal municipality could create that would reduce flooding in the city streets, to the kind of natural capital investments that can be made long term.”

Previous Solution Searches have identified ways to cope with overfishing in costal communities and solutions for adapting to climate change. Jenks said he hopes this Solution Search can help spark a “non-partisan conversation about preparedness” regardless of what people think about climate change.

While part of the goal is raising awareness, this is a contest and there will be a winner. Rare describes the competition as being part American Idol, part X-Prize and part online competition. Jenks told HuffPost that the contest’s panel of distinguished judges (including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore) will narrow down the field to the top 10 entries and select a judge’s choice winner. The top 10 will then compete online for the people’s choice award vote.

Michael Sapnar, President and CEO of TransRe and one of the judges, told HuffPost that he hopes the contest will help “uncover the best practices that are out there.” As for what he anticipates looking for in the entries, Sapnar said, “I think something that’s scalable is important, and something that’s easy for people to understand and embrace is important.” A reasonable cost and some level of testing or trial are also good qualities.

The winners of the judge’s pick and the people’s choice will both take home $25,000 and two runners up to the people’s choice will each win $5,000.

Inside San Jose State University’s $1.4 billion building boom

Vicki Thompson
Walk through the sprawling new student union at San Jose State University, and you would be forgiven for thinking you had just stepped into an upscale mall food court. Mongolian barbecue? Check. Healthy salad place? Got that. Comfy lounge chairs and acres of café tables? Grab a seat.
The student union — both a new building and rehab of the decades-old wing — is part of a massive building boom that is transforming the state’s oldest public university. Roughly $300 million in construction is currently underway or coming online, including a new health center, residential towers, landscape improvements and academic-building renovations. And that’s just for starters: A total of $1.4 billion in capital improvements is on tap, as the 32,000-student school seeks to upgrade its image and lure more students and top faculty.
“There’s a lot of research and data that shows many students get attracted to a campus based on the condition of facilities, and they stay based on those conditions,” said SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi. “When you look at a campus like ours in the middle of Silicon Valley, I really saw the need to upgrade the facilities and begin to consider putting in place a more systematic plan for them.”
SJSU is not alone. Intelligence in Education, which tracks construction, says residence-hall building alone is up 40 percent from a year ago, with colleges pumping $2 billion into dorms between last year and this year.
At San Jose State, officials have greenlighted the huge spend after years of relatively little investment in facilities. The last big project was King Library, which opened in 2003. Most of the projects are being paid for upfront by bonds and will be repaid over time through student fees and rent.
“There’s a lot that hasn’t been touched in some time, and there’s a huge backlog in demand,” said Christopher Brown, associate vice president for facilities development and operations.
Risks, rewards
Construction isn’t without risks. In 2012, San Jose State filed a legal claim against the architect and general contractor on Campus Village 1, a massive, 2,279-bed complex built in 2005. It sought $29 million in damages relating to plumbing repair and replacement costs because of leaks. But Qayoumi says such incidents shouldn’t deter spending on big projects.
“There will always be risks,” he said. “That kind of litigation can happen with any major construction project.”
On a recent tour a few days before classes resumed in August, the campus was a buzzing with activity. Hard hats, construction fencing and heavy equipment were everywhere.
Inside the massive Spartan Complex, workers were racing to complete a punch list on a $62 million renovation before students were scheduled to start flooding into the building. As part of the project, the attached Yoshihiro Uchida Hall saw its stately edifice encased in a new glass entrance that houses new facilities and adds a rooftop garden and patio. Nearby, recently installed palm trees still had their fronds tied up, part of a landscaping upgrade meant to add grandeur to Paseo de Cesar Chavez.
“One of the biggest challenges is we’re right in the heart of campus,” said Tony Matulich, senior project manager for Blach Construction, which is the general contractor on the $34 million health center, slated for completion by spring 2015. “But we have good communication with the campus. We keep them up to date on these big operations.”
A major focus area is housing, with $552 million in pipelined projects. Sundt Construction Inc. just started work on the $126 million Campus Village Phase 2, which will add 850 beds in a 10-story tower at the southeast end of campus. Plans call for more than 2,000 beds to be built after that in a $426 million third and fourth phase.
The goal is to modernize the housing stock and add new supply, sating some of the demand that has led to a 600-student waitlist for existing units. At the same time, officials expect more dorms will lead to a better academic experience.
“Especially for the first-year experience, staying on campus has a major impact on student success,” Qayoumi said.
Planners are putting all of that housing in the same part of campus to create a critical community mass. A side benefit may be added life to the surrounding area, officials said.
“When we have all these students who are staying at residence halls, we’re going to see more and more amenities downtown,” Qayoumi said. “I think their dollars will be spent in downtown area.”
Officials are sensitive to criticism that the facilities spending comes after years of budget cuts that have resulted in slashed course offerings. Qayoumi, however, notes that facilities budgets are separate from operating funds. And he notes that the school doesn’t want to overbuild, either.
“The balance is, you want to build facilities that can withstand the use of time,” he said. “You want to build in a flexibility so you can renovate it in 20 years for new uses that you can’t even imagine today, and it will still be relevant.”

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home


by  – 

Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips

Moisture Control Is the Key to Mold Control

• When water leaks or spills occur indoors -ACT QUICKLY. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
• Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
• Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
• Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
• Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores.
• If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

To read the rest of the tips and for more information on mold remediation services or to schedule an appointment please visit Aspen Environmental Services online at http://aspenenvironmentalservices.com/a-brief-guide-to-mold-moisture-and-your-home/

SOURCE: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Homeaspenenvironmentalservices.com

Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips Moisture Control is the Key to Mold Control When water leaks or spills occur indoors -ACT QUICKLY.  If wet or damp materials or areas are dried […]


What Is LEED? – Indoor Environmental Quality

This is the seventh post in a series on the LEED green building rating system. The first post provided an Introduction to LEED, the second looked at the Sustainable Sites credit category, the third at the Location and Transportation credits, the fourth at Water Efficiency, the fifth at the Energy and Atmosphere credits, and the sixth at Materials and Resources.



Indoor Environmental Quality

The quality of the air on the inside of a building is important to all the occupants, as it can contribute to illness and lack of productivity.  Increasing the amount of fresh air and using building materials and products without harmful chemicals can improve the air quality.  Also important is the connection between the occupants and the world outside.  Having access to views of the outside and providing natural lighting are important to occupant well-being.


Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance

This is a required measure and must be performed in order for a project to be LEED certified.  Provide the required amount of outdoor air ventilation as per ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2010 or local requirement, whichever is more stringent.  Monitor actual outdoor air intake, signaling an alarm when it is +/- 15% of the required minimum.


Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control

This is a required measure and must be performed in order for a project to be LEED certified.  Prohibit smoking inside the building.  Prohibit smoking outside within 25 feet of entrances and exits, air intakes, and operable windows.  Residential projects may allow smoking outside in designated areas, and individual units must be weatherstripped and sealed to prevent smoke from transferring between units or into common areas.


Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Strategies

This credit is worth 1-2 points.  Install permanent entryway systems (mats, grilles, grates) that capture dirt and particulates and keep them from entering the building.  Prevent interior cross-contamination by providing separate air exhaust systems for areas in which potentially harmful chemicals are used (such as a janitor’s closet or copy room).  Air exhaust system must create a negative pressure area (create suction effect).  Outdoor air entry points shall have a filter with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating of 13 or higher (measure of the size of particulates that are filtered).  Replace all filters after construction and before occupancy.


Low-Emitting Materials

This credit is worth 1-3 points.  Use materials with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) content.  There are different requirements for interior and exterior products and for different categories of products.  Product categories covered under this credit include: interior paints and coatings, adhesives, flooring, composite wood products, ceilings/walls/insulation, andfurniture.  Depending on the number of categories in which the VOC content is maintained below the threshold, 1-3 points are awarded.  If not all products used on a project meet the requirement, a budget method may be used to show that overall VOC exposure is less than required.


Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan

This credit is worth 1 point.  Develop and implement an indoor air quality (IAQ) management plan for the construction and preoccupancy phases.  The plan must address the following: follow all recommendations from the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning National Contractors Association’s (SMACNA) IAQ Guidelines for Occupied Buildings Under Construction, 2nd Edition, 2007; protect absorptive materials that are installed or stored on-site from moisture; if possible, do not use permanently installed HVAC equipment prior to occupancy, or if used during construction, provide filters with a MERV rating of at least 8 and change all filters prior to occupancy; and prohibit smoking inside the building and within 25 feet of entrances during construction.


Indoor Air Quality Assessment

This credit is worth 1-2 points.  After construction has been completed and the building has been completely cleaned, follow one of the two following procedures to perform a building flush-out: (1) Change all filtration media and perform a whole building flush-out using at least 14,000 cubic feet of outside air per gross square foot of floor area, keeping the temperature between 60-80 F and the relative humidity no higher than 60%; (2) If occupancy is desired before flush-out, furniture may be moved in after 3,500 cubic feet of outside air has been delivered for each gross square foot of floor area, keeping it between 60-80 F and the relative humidity under 60%; once occupied, flush-out must continue at 0.3 cubic foot per minute of outside air for each gross square foot of floor area, until at least 14,000 cubic feet of outside area have been circulated for each square foot of floor space.  These flush-out options are each worth 1 point.

Two points can be earned by having an independent testing company test air samples for chemicals and VOCs just prior to occupancy.  If any levels are above the required thresholds, take immediate steps to correct them, and have the air retested.  Continue until all levels are in the acceptable ranges.


Thermal Comfort

This credit is worth 1 point.  Design the HVAC system to meet the requirements for thermal comfort as determined by ASHRAE Standard 55-2010, ISO 7730:2010, CEN Standard EN 15251:2007, or local standards.  In addition, provide thermal controls for at least 50% of the individual occupant spaces and group controls for shared multi-occupant spaces.


Interior Lighting

This credit is worth 1-2 points.  Provide lighting controls to at least 90% of the individual occupant spaces and multizone controls for multi-occupant spaces.  Lighting controls must allow users to set at least three different lighting levels (on, off, midlevel).  This is worth 1 point.

Provide light fixtures and placement to meet at least four of the light quality measures, including the use of lamps with a CRI (color rendering index) of at least 80, use of lamps with an expected life of 24,000 hours or more, choosing reflective fabrics/surfaces for furniture, and choosing reflective surfaces for walls and ceilings.  This is worth 1 point.



This credit is worth 1-3 points.  Provide proof through computer modeling that regularly occupied individual occupant spaces are provided with natural daylighting that meets the following conditions: spatial daylight autonomy of 55-90%, annual sunlight exposure of no more than 10%, or that illuminance levels will be from 300-3,000 lux at 9 am and 3 pm on a clear day at the equinox.  Credits are awarded based on what modeling process is used and the percentage of the floor space that meets the requirements.


Quality Views

This credit is worth 1 point.  Provide a line of sight to the outdoors for at least 75% of regularly occupied occupant spaces.  Views must meet requirements for multiple lines of sight, the subject of the view, the quality of the view, and whether the view is unobstructed.  Interior atria can be used to meet up to 30% of view requirement.


Acoustic Performance

This credit is worth 1 point.  Meet requirements for HVAC background noise, sound isolation, reverberation time, and sound reinforcing and masking.  Required levels vary according to the type of project and specific room type requirements.


San Mateo Planning Massive Mixed-Use Development

On the heels of large development announcements and purchases in Redwood City, San Mateo now seems poised to capture the attention of the development world as it unveils a new large development in the middle of the hot Peninsulasubmarket.Philadelphia-based EBL&S Development is planning the development of Station Park Green, a mixed-use apartment, office and retail development in San Mateo located at 1700 and 1790 South Delaware Street.

The large development showcases the opportunity this market has to offer as one of Bay Area’s best connected towns. “I would think that this project will have a total development cost somewhere in the range of $250 million to $300 million,” says Alan Talansky, a vice president of development for EBL&S. He works out of the company’s regional office located in San Mateo at 30 West Poplar Avenue.

The developer is now going through a design review stage but anticipates the project to kick off shortly. “We should be able to start the project sometime during the first quarter of next year,” said Talansky.

This project was first brought up for approval in 2011. It was then put on hold by the developer due to the financial circumstances brought on by the Great Recession. All the while, the developer anticipated a time when the market would recover and allow the development to commence.

Read more..


About MNM Partners: MNM Partners is a boutique investment firm that acquires and manages well-located value add properties in the San Francisco Bay area. MNM provides real estate investors through group co-ownership the opportunity to invest in properties that provide stable cash flow and future appreciation in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our ownership structure is suitable for cash, self-directed IRA’s and 1031 exchanges.

What Is LEED? – Water Efficiency

This is the fourth post in a series on the LEED green building rating system.  The first post provided an Introduction to LEED, the second looked at the Sustainable Sites credit category, and the third at the Location and Transportation credits.

water efficiency

Water Efficiency

Fresh, drinkable water is a precious commodity that is only available in a limited supply.  Therefore, prudent use and treatment of waste water are very important as we look to expand our built environment and shrink natural treatment areas.  Credits under this category have to do with limiting water use, both inside buildings and outside in landscaping.

Outdoor Water Use Reduction

This is a required measure and must be completed to qualify for LEED certification.  Reduce outdoor water use by providing landscaping that requires little or no irrigation.  The use of native and drought-resistant plant species is encouraged.

The project must use no irrigation (after a two-year establishment period, where temporary irrigation systems are acceptable) or use 30% less than a baseline model.  Plant species and the use of drip irrigation systems and moisture sensors are used as strategies to meet this goal.

inddor water efficiencyIndoor Water Use Reduction

This is a required measure.  Provide fixtures and fittings that will reduce indoor water use by 20% over a baseline case.  Water use for fixtures is determined by tables provided in the Reference Guide.  All plumbing fixtures should be WaterSense labeled or similar.  Calculations should include appliance and process water use.

Building-Level Water Metering

This is a required measure.  Provide a water meter to measure water use on a monthly and annual basis, either automatically or manually, and provide such information to the US Green Building Council for a period of five years after the building is occupied or certified, whichever comes first.

Outdoor Water Use Reduction

This credit is worth 1-2 points.  Provide no irrigation system (after a two-year establishment period) for 2 points, or reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation by 50% or more over the baseline calculation.  Strategies include plant selection, irrigation delivery system, and alternative water sources.

Indoor Water Use Reduction

This credit is worth 1-6 points.  Reduce the amount of water needed for indoor fixtures and fittings, similar to the prerequisite above.  For each 5% increase in efficiency, from 25% to 50%, a point is awarded.  1 point for 25% efficiency, 2 for 30%, etc.  The use of water saving fixtures, such as dual-flush toilets, low-flow urinals, and sensored faucets, are key to earning these credits.

Cooling Tower Water Use

This credit is worth 1-2 points.  This credit has to do with the treatment of the makeup water for cooling towers or condensers.  Projects with this equipment must perform a water quality test and determine how many cycles the water can go through before exceeding limits for compounds such as calcium carbonate, silicon dioxide, and total alkalinity as per the Reference Guide.  Then, the equipment must be set to not exceed the number of cycles calculated (up to 10), and the project earns 1 point.  If the water can go through over 10 cycles or if it achieves the first credit and uses a minimum of 20% of recycled nonpotable water, another point can be earned.

water meteringWater Metering

This credit is worth 1 point.  Provide water sub-metering for additional systems in addition to the main building meter.  At least two of the following systems must be monitored to earn 1 point: irrigation, indoor plumbing fixtures and fittings, domestic hot water, boilers, reclaimed water, and other process water.

Next we will focus on the Energy and Atmosphere credit category.

CBRE Global Investors buys another $116.6 million in Sunnyvale properties

CBRE Global Investors likes buying buildings in one part of Sunnyvale: Moffett Park.


by Nathan Donato-Weinstein –

Continuing an acquisition spree in Sunnyvale’s Moffett Park business district, CBRE Global Investors has paid more than $130 million in recent weeks to pick up a string of buildings, bringing the investment manager’s total spend in the submarket to more than half a billion dollars so far this year.
CBRE Global Investors’ investment in the area has been the talk of the commercial real estate world since the company began assembling a massive portfolio in Sunnyvale back in January. As I’ve written about several times, there is widespread consensus among market observers that the company is acting on behalf of Google, though such reports remain unconfirmed. The recent deals show that CBRE remains in buying mode, despite already acquiring more than 1.5 million square feet of space in the 1,100-acre area.
In the most recent deal, an affiliate of CBRE Global Investors bought seven buildings from San Francisco-based Prologis that add up to 263,500 square feet of building area, according to deeds that I examined on Friday at the Santa Clara County Clerk-Recorder’s office. They include four buildings at 1330 Bordeaux Ave. totaling 135,300 square feet; two buildings at 225 Humboldt Ct. totaling 71,400 square feet and one building at 1320 Bordeaux Ave. totaling 56,800 square feet. Public records show CBRE paid $116.6 million for these properties, or about $442 per square foot.
See Also

Update: CBRE Global Investors deals in Sunnyvale top $400 million
CBRE Fund buys Sunnyvale properties, prompting talk that Google’s behind it all
That number would make it among the richest sales during CBRE’s buying binge, especially when you consider that these buildings are essentially warehouses. I reached out to both Prologis and CBRE Global Investors to verify my numbers. CBRE declined; Prologis did not get back to me.
In a separate deal that closed earlier this month, CBRE paid about $14 million, or $350 per square foot, for 1185 Bordeaux Ave., a 40,000-square-foot building that backs up to the old Juniper campus which Google leased this summer. The seller was OD Equities LLC.
Investor interest in Moffett Park isn’t out of the ordinary. While Google is growing rapidly in the area, Moffett Park is also home to corporate citizens like Yahoo Inc., NetApp and Amazon’s Lab126. Jay Paul Co. is also building two huge new office projects on spec— the nearly 2-million-square-foot Moffett Place, and 600,000-square-foot Moffett Gateway.
But CBRE Global is now closing in on owning upward of 40 buildings in the area from dozens of owners. Observers say it’s one of the biggest, most sustained assemblages in a single neighborhood in memory.
Why does CBRE Global Investors love Moffett Park so much? What are the firm’s long-term plans? We’d love to hear from them, but the investment manager has declined to discuss these acquisitions, beyond confirming that they have taken place.