Do Green Property Managers Attract More Considerate Residents?

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Just because it may not be as “cool” today to take your property management business in a “green” direction doesn’t mean it’s not rewarding. Besides the personal satisfaction there are advantages.

As part of its Healthy Homes Program, the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched in 1999 its Healthy Homes Initiative (HHI) to protect families from housing-related health and safety hazards.

Then in July of 2007 HUD introduced its Green Initiative, a nationwide pilot initiative to encourage owners and purchasers of affordable, multifamily properties to rehabilitate their properties using sustainable Green Building principles.

If you or your clients comply with the standards of the Green Initiative you may be eligible for a government sponsored program that “…restructures property debt to account for market rent levels, to pay for rehabilitation and 20 years’ of estimated repairs and replacements, and to establish a financially viable project for the long term.”

There’s also a Credential for Green Property Management (CPGM) you can qualify for. It offers management companies and owners a mechanism for meeting the training commitments to the HUD Office of Affordable Preservation (OAHP) if they’ve qualified for a “green restructuring”.

The CPGM credential isn’t restricted to management companies who have opted for an OAHP green restructuring. It also benefits onsite managers, maintenance staff and supervisors of front-line staff at other affordable and conventional apartment communities employing Green Operations and Maintenance Practices.

Credential holders will learn the latest techniques and technologies for making cost-saving green improvements at properties. The credential is earned by completing a total of 16 hours of training in a variety of green building topics.

My research suggests that as a credentialed (CGPM) property manager you’ll have an advantage over the competition. You’re likely to attract property owners who are progressive-minded proponents of environmentally sensitive practices.

Many people today, especially those concerned with climate change, care about the advantages of sustainability and conservation. These include residents who directly benefit.

If you’re able to tell prospects that your rental units meet energy-saving criteria or the federal standards of the Healthy Homes Initiative you’re likely to find this an important attraction to a more caring group.

It isn’t rocket science to imagine that the kind of people who make excellent renters are also impressed with buildings updated to be both environmentally sensitive as well as healthier to live in.

Each of the following topics is covered in the credential training, with a cumulative total of at least 8 hours in these areas:

  • Green Building Principles and Practices Overview
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Efficiency
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Green Operations and Maintenance

Other topics that may be included in the 16-hour requirement include:

  • Green Site Landscaping, Xeriscape, Composting, etc.
  • Green Building Systems
  • Alternative Energy Sources (Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Combined Heat and Power, Co-generation)
  • Energy Star (including indoor and outdoor lighting) and WaterSense Programs
  • Recycling and Waste Reduction
  • Resident Green Education

To learn more about the CGPM opportunity visit this page. Consider the advantages that becoming credentialed will contribute to your property management business.

WHEN TRAGEDY STRIKES IN A COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

Very recently, a manager I know and worked with was viciously attacked while on duty in his community. A former employee walked into the management office and shot this unsuspecting young man in the head.
People I know asked me what could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring. It is always easy to be a Monday-morning Quarterback, but the fact remains that if someone is intent on doing you harm, he or she can usually find a way.
That being said, this attack does necessitate an important discussion about how to protect an association’s employees, directors and residents. Whenever you are dealing with volatile personality types, it is important to plan thoughtfully. We have previously seen violence in community associations where a resident attacked a director and vice versa. We have also seen resident vs. resident crime. director vs. director crime and resident vs. manager and director vs. manager attacks. Sadly, no group is immune from being attacked or being the attacker.
What if you don’t know someone has such a personality? Well, hiring decisions should not be taken lightly. In this case, a thorough personality screening of this employee may or may not have revealed a history of mental illness or highlighted other troubling personality issues. Given how some people react to bad news, terminating an employee might also require speaking with a professional ahead of time to frame the news in the best possible light and to take all necessary precautions should the employee present a problem immediately upon learning of the termination.
If you have any inkling that a resident, employee or director may have violent tendencies, you must take immediate steps to defuse the situation, reach out to all appropriate professionals and service agencies and do not go it alone. Can the management office be equipped with a metal detector? Of course, but how many communities want to go to this extreme?
Fortunately, Jeremy Holland, the manager who inspired this blog, is recovering with the help and overwhelming support of his family, friends and the community he served.

What Is LEED? – Innovation and Regional Priority Credits

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This is the eighth and final post in a series on the LEED green building rating system. The first post provided an Introduction to LEED, and the remaining posts looked at each of the six credit categories: Sustainable Sites, Location and Transportation, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality.  We hope you have enjoyed the series!

 

Innovation Credits


This credit is worth 1-5 points.  Projects can earn additional credits for innovations in green building.  There are three ways to earn credits in this section: (1) Achieve significant, measurable environmental performance using a strategy not included in the LEED rating system; (2) Achieve a pilot credit not currently included in an existing rating system from USGBC’s Pilot Credit Library; or (3) Achieve exemplary performance of an existing LEED prerequisite or credit as per the Reference Guide (usually defined as double the existing threshold or at the next incremental percentage threshold).

 

LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP)


This credit is worth 1 point.  At least one principal member of the project team must be a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty appropriate for the type of project.

 

Regional Priority Credits


This credit is worth 1-4 points.  Regional Priority credits are existing prerequisites or credits in the rating system that have been selected by USGBC Chapters and Regions as especially important in their area.  The USGBC web site has a listing of the priority credits for each region of the United States.  Projects can earn additional points for achieving these credits on their project.  Up to four additional points can be awarded.

For example, one of the RP credits for the Northwest is Rainwater Management.  A project that achieves three points on this credit will get an additional point in the Regional Priority category.  So, a project in the Northwest could earn 4 points for meeting the requirements for 3 points, with no additional work or documentation required.  If the project only earned 2 points under Rainwater Management, however, it would not receive the additional RP point, as 3 points are required per the priority credit database.

 

Source | Images: LEED v4 for Building Design and Construction (updated July 1, 2014).

 

Meet the first apartment and condo buildings to earn ENERGY STAR certification

by Michael Zatz

Energy costs in multifamily properties have risen by 20 percent over the past decade. These rising costs are squeezing operating income for building owners and managers, and they’re making apartments and condos less affordable for residents.

Here’s another staggering statistic: Current industry estimates show that multifamily properties can become 30 percent more efficient by 2020—and cost-effectively at that. Those reductions will not only save a lot of money (how’s $9 billion sound?), but it will also help the environment. Less energy used means fewer greenhouse gases emitted, and that’s good for everyone.

None of this is probably news to you. The problem is that, up until now, we haven’t had any way to figure out how much energy our multifamily buildings were wasting. But that’s no longer the case.

EPA, with help from Fannie Mae, recently released a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score for multifamily housing, which tells multifamily property owners how they rate compared to similar buildings nationwide. It accounts for variables such as weather, number of bedrooms, and type of property (low, mid-, or high rise). A 50 is an average score. A 75 means that your building is more energy efficient than 75 percent of your peers. A score of 10? Well, you’ve got some work to do.

The ENERGY STAR score will be integrated into LEED, providing LEED with the same national energy efficiency verification that’s available to other building types. In LEED, existing multifamily projects can use the existing buildings rating system to achieve certification (LEED 2009/LEED v4). With the expansion of ENERGY STAR to multifamily, projects have a powerful tool at their disposal to help them achieve various Energy and Atmosphere credits.

What’s the catch? Whole-property energy consumption data is required to receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score, which can be a challenge for multifamily properties that are not master-metered. While whole-property consumption data will continue to be required to earn ENERGY STAR certification, USGBC has established a Residential Utility Sampling Protocol that allows properties to collect a statistically significant sampling of utility data from the residential unit space for those properties that would like to receive an estimated ENERGY STAR score.

So far, 17 apartment and condo buildings have measured out at a 75 or higher, and gone on to earn the ENERGY STAR. See the full list via the GBIG collection.

Now, we’re challenging everyone in the multifamily housing industry to step on the ENERGY STAR 1 – 100 scale to see how you’re doing. EPA has tools and resources to help you improve atenergystar.gov/multifamilyhousing. And once you reach a score of 75, you can earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification. Are you up for the challenge?

Cross Laminated Timber Ideal For Urban Buildings

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by Stephen Hanley

Architect Michael Green of Vancouver is a strong advocate for using engineered wood products like cross laminated timber (CLT) to construct medium to high rise buildings.  His mantra is “The Earth grows our food. The earth can grow our homes. It’s an ethical change that we have to go through.” He says wood sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – about 1 ton of CO2 per cubic meter – and holds it captive during its entire lifetime, even when used as a building material.

His signature building is the Wood Innovation Design Centre (WIDC), shown in the video above, in Prince George, British Columbia which is 6 storeys high, but he has completed plans for a 30 storey office building made entirely of renewable wood, which he calls a “plyscraper.”

In New Zealand, CLT is touted as a “desirable and safe alternative” to concrete and steel in earthquake zones because it’s lighter and more flexible. Using a technique known as “post-tension technology”, steel tendons act like rubber bands to snap a wooden building back into place after any seismic event.

CLT is also as fireproof as steel or concrete. In a fire, the outside forms a non-flammable  layer of char that insulates the interior of the wood panel from heat.

Giant Australian contractor Lend Lease has built an 8 storey apartment building using CLT at Victoria Harbor in Melbourne. Its designer, architect Alex de Rijke, says “the 18th century was about brick, the 19th about steel, the 20th about concrete, and the 21st century is about wood.” According to Lend Lease, they were able to construct the building 30% faster than traditional construction, had less construction traffic, caused less disruption, and generated less waste. Check out the developer’s interactive website detailing all the green features of the building.

New ideas in building technology are slow to take hold. Changes in national and local building codes are needed before new techniques can be approved. Often, politics plays as big a role as any other factor. For instance, the concrete industry is outraged that the British Columbia government promotes wood construction and actually passed legislation that requires “the use of wood as the primary building material in all new provincially funded buildings”.

But now that the word is out about CLT and other timber products, look for a “plyscraper” in your neighborhood soon.

 

CDL’s Treehouse is World’s Largest Vertical Garden

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Earlier this year, CDL’s Treehouse condo project in Singapore set the official Guinness World Record for world’s largest vertical garden. The building’s green wall covers nearly 2300 sq. meters, and is expected to save the building’s residents more than $500,000 in heating and cooling bills each year.

CDL’s Treehouse was completed in 2013, but the company’s project website makes it seem as if several of the apartments- in a pretty wide variety of floorplans, actually– are still available. So, if you’re house-hunting in Singapore, I guess.

In addition to the massive green wall (think: “green roof“), the Treehouse condos feature a number of “green” components like heat-reducing windows and automatic lighting, but the vertical garden and light grey/off-white color of the 26-story complex’ exterior walls are the big heroes of this story. Combined they’ll cut residents’ total energy bills by between 15 and 30 percent.

You can learn more about the Treehouse project’s record-setting vertical garden- and see a lot more photos- by following the source links to Inhabitat and CDL’s sales site at the end of this article. Before you go, however, check out these concept drawings from 2009, and compare them with the finished condominiums in the photo at the top of this post. Enjoy!

 

Energy in Green Building

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Read tips and techniques about blower door tests, duct work blasts and appliance assessments.

Energy is the foundation for green building. Energy codes define the minimum acceptable standards for a climate zone. In today’s world of climate change and high energy prices, it is critical that buildings use as few fossil fuels (including coal generated electricity) as possible to “futureproof” the home against unpredictable and rapidly rising prices.

Energy Uncertainty

Our energy future is uncertain, and the public is overwhelmed with mixed messages about our oil and gas reserves: Are we headed for another oil crunch? How much are oil and natural gas prices expected to rise? Experts predict that world oil production will peak in 2020 at the latest, but the peak could occur as early as the year 2010.

After the peak, the amount of retrievable oil will be in decline, causing prices to rise. Fossil fuels currently provide 95 percent of the world’s commercial energy supply, whereas renewable energy sources supply less than three percent. If we are going to approach our future with foresight, it would be wise to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy at home as soon as possible.

Amory Lovins, an international expert in energy efficiency, suggests, “Oil scarcity may be the weakest reason for making the transition away from oil. Profit, climate protection, security, and quality of life are all more relevant and defensible.” If we continue on our present course, the United States’ dependence upon other countries for oil could greatly increase. Yet, an alternate future where the U.S. decreases its oil consumption and increases its investment in renewable energy resources is not only desirable, but possible. Such an investment would free our nation from reliance upon other countries and would also boost the economy through innovative technology and employment. In fact it may be the best way out of our economic conundrum.

Renewable Energy

Economically viable renewable energy sources are already available in today’s market. Wind farms are going up across the nation, providing electricity at the competitive wholesale rate of three to five cents per kilowatt-hour. Electricity from burning biomass (crops and crop waste) also sells at a similar rate. Shell Oil, the most successful company in the oil industry, estimates that “by 2010 commercial energy from biomass could provide five percent of the world’s power.” The value of that energy production could be over $20 billion. Another up and coming renewable energy source is photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. As technologies improve and as the US government and local utilities offer incentives, PV wattage costs are becoming increasingly competitive. Read more about Photovoltaic panels.

Energy Use in Buildings

This information has a direct impact on us as builders. Buildings comprise 35 percent of direct energy use in the United States. Of that 35 percent, 64 percent goes into heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; 24 percent heats hot water; 13 percent provides lighting; and electrical appliances are beginning to cut a significant wedge into the pie. In terms of carbon dioxide production, in total, buildings are responsible for 48% of all greenhouse gasses.

Energy and Building Systems Design

Energy efficiency requires a systems-based approach to designing and building a home. All elements of the building shell; foundation, framing, roof structure and windows play key roles in defining the potential energy savings for a house. Energy use inside the home is the second tier of consideration. Mechanical equipment sized to the actual loads of the house, natural day lighting and ventilation greatly impact how much energy will be used to provide comfort and convenience. Appliances and lighting also impact net energy efficiency. All need to be considered in the early design stages to maintain cost effectiveness.

The study, Greening the Building and the Bottom Line by Joseph Romm of the U.S. DOE and William Browning of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), highlights case studies of several companies that invested in energy-efficient designs and thereby experienced significant savings. The companies highlighted in the RMI study saved enormous amounts of energy—up to a 90 percent decrease in previous consumption. Further justifying the investment in retrofitting is the compelling evidence that day lighting (a design feature which allows the use of natural light, rather than artificial light during daytime hours), improved HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), and improved indoor air quality. This resulted in increased productivity, fewer worker errors, and less absenteeism in many cases studies. Because labor costs are such a large share of total costs (workforce accounts for approximately $130 per square foot, 72 times more than energy costs), a one percent increase in worker productivity can result in savings to a company that exceeds their total energy costs.

There are more and more cases similar to those documented by RMI, and as a result, companies are starting to invest in energy efficiency for the reasons suggested above: reduced energy expenditures and increased worker productivity.

Embodied Energy

The energy buildings require starts accumulating long before the building materials are on-site. The energy required to extract, manufacture, and transport building materials is tallied into the sum total known as embodied energy. Producing stone, glass, and clay–common building materials–makes up 6.9 percent of the industrial sector’s 37 percent of total energy use. Cement production worldwide accounts for 8% of all carbon released into the atmosphere. Additionally, minerals are found in a wide variety of building materials in the home from plumbing and wiring to insulation. There are even minerals in paint and wallpaper. Because minerals must be mined, they come to us at a high price—both in terms of energy costs and environmental impact.

Investing in Energy Improvements

Next to sitting and building orientation, insulation quantity and quality are the most important decisions you will make at the onset of construction. The code officials and many energy consultants used to optimize insulation thickness according to payback. Payback was based on the average rate in increases in energy costs over 30 years. This was approximately 6 1/2 % per year. In 2002 that changed. 9/11 shifted the world paradigm about energy security. Natural gas just stopped flowing in US gas wells and we became a natural gas importer. The resultant doubling of natural gas prices (and oil prices for those who heat with oil) have changed the entire economic equation for insulation payback. Today, looking into the energy crystal ball, the more insulation you can fit into the envelope the better. After all, how long will your homes last? What will be the price of fossil fuels used to heat your home in 5,10, 15 years? If your house will stand that long it needs to be insulated sufficiently to meet those economic demands for energy.

Green building reduces energy consumption in numerous ways. First, we can decrease the embodied energy of the building through efficient design, use of recycled and local materials, and recycling construction waste. Second, green building design reduces a building’s energy consumption over its lifetime. Strategically placing windows and skylights can eliminate the need for electrical lighting during the day. A whole house fan can cool the house over night, rather than relying on air conditioning. High quality insulation reduces temperature regulation costs in both summer and winter. Additionally, houses can maximize passive heating and cooling. South facing windows with overhangs can reduce heating costs by 20 to 30 percent, and prevailing breezes, shading, and natural plantings can keep houses cooler in the summer. This list only scratches the surface of the possibilities for reducing a building’s energy requirements.

AUTUMN MAINTENANCE TIPS

Use these must-do fall maintenance tips to keep your house in shape and help keep you warm this winter.

Cleaning Gutters

Home Exterior

  • Regularly clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.
  • Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes or completely replace the wood.
  • Lower humidity and cooler (not yet cold) temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.
  • Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it’s time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in.
  • To prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the exterior hose bibs. Run the water until the pipes are empty. Make sure all the water is drained from the pipes, if not; the water can freeze up and damage the pipes.

Keeping Warm

  • Have your wood-burning fireplace inspected, cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Wrap water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape. It will save energy and prevent them from freezing.
  • Clean and replace filters in your furnace or heating system. Contact a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service your gas heater or furnace to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Your local utility company will often provide this service for free.
  • If you use a hot water system for heating, drain the expansion tank, check the water pressure, and bleed your radiators.
  • Check the attic to make sure the insulation is installed properly. The vapor barrier on insulation should face down toward the living space. If it is installed incorrectly (with the vapor barrier facing up) then the insulation will trap moisture causing possible water problems. Cut slits in the vapor barrier to allow moisture to escape. To install attic insulation, unroll the insulation with the paper side out. Install small pieces of insulation between the joists on the attic floor. Be careful not to step between the joists.

Doors and Windows

The change in temperature and humidity and normal wear and tear can cause window seals to crack and shrink. Check your windows and doors inside and out for leaks and drafts. Caulk cracks or install weather stripping around windows and doors, including the garage door. Replace screens with storm windows and clean them if needed.

Gardens

  • Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials. Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing. But perennials often appear as though they too have bitten the bullet. That’s because their top growth dies back, although in most cases the root ball is hardy enough to survive even extreme temperatures, especially if it’s covered with a layer of mulch.
  • The best time to mulch perennials is after the first hard freeze. Just make sure you don’t cover the crown or center of the plant, because that can lead to rot.
  • Clean garden tools before storing for the winter.
  • Trim dead branches out the trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a winter storm.
mulch is used to fill in gaps of flagstone pathway

Lawn Care

  • Rake up the thick layers of leaves that settle on lawn surfaces. Large leaves in particular, especially when they get wet, can compact to the point where they suffocate the grass below and lead to all kinds of insect and disease problems. So it’s a good idea to routinely rake or blow them off the lawn or, better yet, use a mulching mower to shred them into fine pieces.
  • Put the raked leaves in the compost pile or use as a mulch. Whatever you do, don’t waste fallen leaves because they’re an excellent source of nutrients and organic matter. You can also add them to flower beds to put a winter blanket on your garden.
  • Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn; it will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. When you’re done, spread fertilizer then grass seed.
  • This will be the ideal time to sow cool-season grasses such as fescue and rye – it will give them the opportunity to germinate and develop a good root system before freezing temperatures arrive. It’s also the right time to fertilize turf grasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.

Attic Pest Control

  • Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. With gable vents that lead into the attic it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out.
  • Even after closing off those entryways, pests can still find a way in. The first place to check for any unwanted guests is under the kitchen cupboards and appliances.

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

  • Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home. A smoke alarm can save lives in a house fire. A carbon monoxide detector can also save lives if a home has oil or gas-burning appliances, like a furnace or water heater.
  • Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless byproduct of burning oil or natural gas, and it can be deadly. For just a few dollars, a carbon monoxide detector will sound an alarm if the levels get too high.
  • Always install carbon monoxide detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions. Generally they should be installed near each potential source of carbon monoxide, and within ear shot of the living and sleeping areas.
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Done deal: Google seals lease with NASA for Moffett Airfield

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Hanger One once housed a dirigible. Now Google will reskin the historic structure.

by Nathan Donato-Weinstein –

A Google Inc. subsidiary has sealed a deal with NASA to lease Moffett Field — plugging in the largest puzzle piece yet in Google’s massive Peninsula real estate expansion and paving the way for the rehabilitation of the storied Hangar One.
The deal, first announced in February, became official today, providing a first look at the financial terms. As part of the agreement, Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC will pump $200 million into property improvements, including the renovation of Hangar One, Hangar Two and Hangar Three — satisfying a major goal of preservationists who have been fighting to save the historic structures for years.
Mountain View-based Google will pay a total of $1.16 billion in rent to the government over 60 years, according to a NASA press release. That doesn’t include $6.3 million a year in maintenance and operation costs.
“We look forward to rolling up our sleeves to restore the remarkable landmark Hangar One, which for years has been considered one of the most endangered historic sites in the United States,” David Radcliffe, vice president of real estate and workplace services at Google, said in a statement.
Google will also create an educational facility “where the public can explore the site’s legacy and the role of technology in the history of Silicon Valley,” the announcement said.
An airport — and a golf course too
“This is great news,” said Lenny Siegel, a Mountain View councilman-elect who led the Save Hangar One Committee. “We finally have assurance that Hangar One will be re-skinned, Moffett Field’s facilities will be put to scientific use, and there will be a community-oriented educational center at Moffett Field.”
The NASA property sprawls over 1,000 acres and includes the hangars, two runways, a flight operations building and a private golf course.
Google executives have long based their private aviation fleet at Moffett Field and used the runways under an agreement between NASA and their holding company, H211 LLC. Under terms of the lease announced Monday, NASA, the Navy, and other private and public air travel will continue to use the facilities.
Not everyone was happy about the arrangement, however. Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog issued a news release after the deal was announced on Monday, decrying the space agency’s past relationship with Google executives. NASA was criticized in late 2013 for allegedly providing Google execs jet fuel at a discount worth up to $5.3 million.
“This is like giving the keys to your car to the guy who has been siphoning gas from your tank,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project, in a news release.
Google’s plans
Google wasn’t saying much on Monday beyond its statement in the NASA news release. But as I previously reported, NASA officials said Google would use the 350,000-square-foot Hangar One for research-and-development into space and aviation technologies, including robotics.
It’s unclear what Google’s plans are for the larger area. But it’s unlikely that Google could build much additional space on the Moffett Field land it just leased. The original offering memo lists one potential development area suitable for new construction. That site would allow just 90,000 square feet of new ground-up construction — a tiny amount, in Google terms.
But Google is planning to house thousands of employees at Moffett Field under a separate project. Google already leases about 42 acres from NASA on the northern edge of the airfield for a new, 1 million-square-foot ground-up campus called Bay View that has not yet started vertical construction.
And there are other possibilities. The one piece of the North Bayshore that Google doesn’t control — for now, anyway — is a 77-acre chunk of land at Moffett Field fronting Highway 101. An educational consortium called University Associates LLC already leases that property from NASA. That land was earmarked for a huge R&D campus that also included a new residential community but has been unable to get going.
From a real estate perspective, Google’s Moffett Field lease gives Google contiguous control over a huge swath of the North Bayhore. After dozens of leases and acquisitions both large and small, you can now walk from Palo Alto, to Mountain View, across Moffett Field and into Sunnyvale and never leave property either owned or leased by the company.
Hangar One fix
The deal is a milestone in the long and winding history of Hangar One, the iconic and beloved structure visible from Highway 101 built in the 1930s for a huge Navy airship.
That airship — the USS Macon — sank in 1935, but the hangar remained in use until the Navy handed Moffett Field to NASA Ames Research Center in 1994.
In 2003, NASA found harmful polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) leaking from the siding. Charged with cleanup, the Navy opted to strip the panels, which also contained asbestos and lead paint, and to encapsulate the skeleton with a protective epoxy coating.
But the Navy didn’t have the money to re-skin the structure, and it sat skeleton-like despite an offer from Google-controlled H211 to rehabilitate it in return for allowing its planes to be stored inside. Its long-term future was unclear.
Local reaction
NASA put up the property for lease last year as it sought to shrink its facilities footprint and bring in new revenue.
“As NASA expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a news release.
“We want to invest taxpayer resources in scientific discovery, technology development and space exploration – not in maintaining infrastructure we no longer need,” Bolden said. “Moffett Field plays an important role in the Bay Area and is poised to continue to do so through this lease arrangement.”
A news release said that Google would take over operating the site after finalizing a joint plan with NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and California Water Quality Control Board “to ensure continued environmental stewardship and protection of the existing remedies of the site.”
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo on Monday welcomed the announcement, saying it “honors Moffett Field and Hangar One as part of U.S. Naval history, while looking to the future by promoting research into space, aviation and other emerging technologies.”
Eshoo made the rehabilitation of Hangar One a major priority and in a news release singled out congressional colleague Zoe Lofgren, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a long list of community and business groups for supporting the effort.
Siegel, the longtime Hangar One advocate, said that he hoped that Google, NASA and neighboring cities would establish a community advisory commission to develop proposals for “addressing the transportation and housing challenges associated with the reuse of Moffett Field.”
But on Monday, he was mostly in the mood to celbrate.
“It’s not just that they’re resurfacing the building, but they have plans to use it, which has always been the goal,” he said.

New Windows, Insulation Star in Green Home Upgrade

Insulated Wall

Holland and Nick Brown of Long Beach, California have been upgrading their home to Net Zero standards and blogging about their experience for AOL. At the start of their project, their house had no insulation, and old-fashioned, single pane windows.

Adding insulation and installing new windows that are more energy efficient are the two most important ways to reduce unwanted heat gain or loss in any structure. Of the two, the Browns found that insulating their walls to bring them up to R-13 standards cut their energy loss by 33%. Putting in new low-e thermopane windows reduced energy loss by another 14%. So just those two upgrades cut their utility bills almost in half for as long as they own their home.

Adding insulation can be a chore. To do it right, you really need to remove the interior walls, install the insulation, and then, obviously, put up new walls. That can be a daunting task for even the most enthusiastic and “handy” homeowners.

A more simple alternative to new drywall is to drill holes in existing walls either inside or outside and blow in cellulose insulation. Either way, there is no other improvement you can make that will save you more money or reduce your family’s carbon footprint more. In attics, insulating power up to R-49 can be achieved. Since most of the energy a building loses or gains comes through the roof, adding extra insulation in the attic is a relatively easy and inexpensive efficiency upgrade.

New windows are easier to install than insulation, but the initial cost is higher and the energy bill savings aren’t always as dramatic as they can be with insulation. Still, new windows look great, can make a huge difference in air circulation within a home, and add value to a property that any potential buyer can see right away.

For their home, the Browns considered using triple glazed glass in their new windows, but decided the extra energy savings were not worth the cost in their relatively mild climate. For others who live where the winters are long and cold, though, the extra insulating power of new windows with three panes of glass in each sash would probably be worth the extra cost.

There are lots of other ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home – caulk windows and doors to reduce drafts, install LED lighting and upgrade to Energy Star appliances. But you should upgrade your insulation and windows first. That’s where the biggest improvements in energy efficiency – and the largest reduction in utility bills – can be achieved.