How Obama’s Justice Department Selectively Blocks Mergers By Republican CEOs

By Kerri Toloczko

Like all mergers, the proposed $45.2 billion Comcast CMCSA -0.99% merger withTime Warner Cable TWC -0.51%—the largest and second largest cable providers in the nation—has its advocates and critics.  There are certainly important questions about what impact the merger would have on consumers—but there are equally significant issues associated with the highly politicized approval process.

FINAL CARTOON COLOR 04.11.14

The Obama Department of Justice, led by Eric Holder, must review the merger and decide whether to approve or block it.  Unfortunately, the Obama Administration and Justice Department have a long track record of pushing the rule of law aside and making decisions based on politics.   Will the proposed Comcast merger with Time Warner Cable receive the scrutiny it deserves, or simply be fast-tracked for approval based on politics?

Let’s look at some history—which is detailed in a new Frontiers of Freedom report.  In 2009, the Obama Administration gave Solyndra, a failing California solar panel firm, a $536 million “loan.”  Shortly thereafter, Solyndra was fully bankrupt.  Prior to the loan, Solyndra executives and board members gave generously to Barack Obama, including Tulsa oil billionaire and Obama bundler George Kaiser, one of Solyndra’s main investors.

UnitedHealth Group is expecting higher earnings thanks to ObamaCare.  After United supported passing the plan, one of its subsidiaries, Quality Software Services, Inc. won a contract of $90 million for the rollout of Healthcare.gov.  UnitedHealth’s Executive Vice President Anthony Welters and his wife are significant Obama donors and bundlers.  The Administration did not perceive any conflict of interest in providing the nation’s largest health insurer with the keys to Healthcare.gov.

If money buys favors from the Obama Administration, a lack of it produces the opposite.

In 2011, AT&T T +0.14% announced it would seek permission from the government for a $39 billion merger with T-Mobile.  Processing the application was expected to take at least twelve months.  But within five months, the Department of Justice announced it had filed a lawsuit blocking the friendly merger.

Enter AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson, well known to be a free market Republican favoring  pro-growth tax reform and opposing Obama-style redistributing income from the working class.  Mr. Stephenson has a long history of Republican giving, and averaging the three election cycles between 2006–2010, AT&T employees supported Republican candidates by 60%.

Key government players during merger talks were Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Renata Hesse, now Deputy Attorney General for Anti Trust at DOJ, and of course, Attorney General Eric Holder, who runs the most blatantly politicized DOJ in history.

FCC Chairman Genachowski is a longtime technology advisor for Barack Obama, serving on his transition team.  Obama appointed him FCC Chairman in 2009.  He and his wife, another Obama appointee, are long time Obama donors.  Ms. Hesse, then in charge of the AT&T merger at FCC, has donated more than $6K to Obama for America.  In a policy forum last year, Ms. Hesse stated the Obama Administration’s approach to antitrust was “vigorous enforcement.”  But does that apply evenly across all merger applications?

On February 14, 2014, Comcast announced intent to acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal worth $45.2 billion—$6 billion more than the AT&T/T-Mobile deal.  This merger would also result in an approximate 40% market share.  Overseeing this application at DOJ will be vigorous enforcer Deputy AG Hesse.  As with AT&T, will the FCC and Department of Justice deny the Comcast merger, and in record time?

If AT&T is “red,” Comcast and Time Warner Cable are deep “blue.”  In 2012, Comcast employees donated $465K to the Democrat National Committee vs. $114K to the Republican National Committee and supported Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by nearly four to one.  Time Warner donations were $442K Obama and $28K Romney.

Comcast also has two Obama cronies working the merger.  CEO Brian Robertsis an Obama golfing buddy whose political giving is 90% Democratic.  Overseeing the merger is Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.

Cohen and his wife have given upwards of $500K to Obama while raising another $2.2 million.  During a Democrat fundraiser at Cohen’s hou se, President Obama quipped, “I have been here so much the only thing I haven’t done in this house is have Seder.”

Obama once publicly stated, “we’re gonna punish our enemies and … reward our friends.”  Executive Branch action on the Comcast/Time Warner deal will demonstrate if this caveat applies to merger policy.  A number of Congressional Committees will review the merger, including a Senate Judiciary hearing on April 9.

In addition to analyzing financial details of this merger, Administration history of crony capitalism screams for Congressional inquiry to determine if the Executive gives preferential treatment to corporations with friendly donors.   Merger approval or denial should be based on objective analysis, not which political party enjoyed the loudest clink in its campaign jar.

If that’s the case, no matter what merger wins, consumers will always lose.

Kerri Toloczko is a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy institute based in Fairfax, Virginia.

2 Deduction Options When You Work From Home

By: 

If you work from home, even on a part-time basis, you can probably save some dough come tax time by deducting your home office costs.

The challenge has always been the 43-line, MENSA-like IRS form home office workers had to complete, which may have kept some from even taking advantage of this home tax benefit.

Now, there’s an optional, simplified home office deduction: Take $5/sq. ft. up to 300 feet or $1,500 and, boom, you’re done.

What’s the catch? Trade-off is a better word: You may not be able to deduct as much compared with the regular method. The IRS says the average home office deduction has been around $3,000. So consider the value of your time against potential tax savings if you believe you’re eligible for more than the $1,500 cap.

Before you start spending your refund, however, there are a few rules you need to heed.

What Counts as a Home Office?

A room or defined area of your home that you use exclusively and on a regular basis for business and that meets either of these uses:

  • It’s your principal place of business, or
  • You see clients, customers, or patients there.

Exception to the “exclusive” rule: If you use your home as the sole location of your business and store products there, the room or area where you store products can be used for other things. Say you use a room in your basement to make and store jewelry that’s also a TV room. If it’s the only fixed location of your business, you can use it to also watch TV.

What If You’re on the Road a Lot?

You don’t have to do all your work from home to take the home office deduction. If you’re an outside salesperson, you probably spend most of your work time elsewhere. But the home office has to be essential to your business, and you must spend substantial time there.  If you do your billing and other office work from your home office, and there’s no other location available to perform these functions, your home office should qualify for the deduction.

You can also qualify for the deduction if your employer requires you to work from home, as long as you don’t charge your employer rent.

A big catch: You must maintain the at-home office for your employer’s convenience, not your own. If you use your home office to finish reports at night or on weekends because you don’t want to work at your desk in your office downtown, you can’t claim the home office deduction.

But if your employer doesn’t have a headquarters and everyone works remotely, you’re good to go.

Also Covered Under the Tax Break

Separate structures on your property, like a detached garage you’ve converted to an office or studio.

Unlike an office inside your home, a separate structure doesn’t have to be your main place of business to qualify for a deduction. That’s because the IRS believes your family is less likely to use a separate structure as a part-time play area or den, says Mark Luscombe, principal analyst for tax and consulting at CCH.

Related: Check Zoning Laws Before Adding a Detached Workshop or Studio

Two Ways to Deduct Home Office Expenses

1. Simplified home office deduction. We talked about this one above, but there are a few other particulars to note:

  • You can’t depreciate your home office, and your deduction is limited to your gross business income less business expenses.
  • If you use this deduction, you can still claim the deductions every homeowner gets, like mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and casualty losses. Put those on Schedule A.
  • Using the standard home office deduction won’t stop you from taking the deductions for other business expenses unrelated to your home, such as advertising, supplies, and employee wages.
  • You don’t need to keep track of individual expenses with this option. You do with the actual cost method.

2. Actual costs, which you list on Form 8829. To use this method, you figure the proportion of your home’s overall space devoted to your office and use that to calculate how much of your overall home expenses went toward your home office.

Example: If your office is 300 sq. ft. and your home is 3,000 sq. ft., your office takes up 10% of your home. So you can deduct 10% of your utility, mortgage interest, property taxes, and other home expenses. However, certain expenses that aren’t related directly to the home office, such as lawn care, aren’t included in the calculation.

Not sure how big your house is? Check the documents you received when you bought your home — there’s probably a detailed rendering — or measure the outside of your home and multiply length times width.

Do You Have to Stick with the Same Deduction Method Each Year?

Nope. Each year, you get to decide whether to use the standard or the actual-expense deduction.

What Can You Deduct When You Use the Long Form?

If you’re using Form 8829 to report your actual expenses and you’ve figured out what percentage of your home you use for business, you can apply that percentage to different home expenses. These include:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • Utilities (heating, cooling, lights)
  • Home repairs and maintenance (so long as they benefit both the business and personal parts of the home)
  • Homeowners insurance premiums

Just take each expense and multiply it by your home office percentage to get the amount you can deduct as a business expense. So if you spend $150 a month on electricity, and your home office takes up 10% of your home, you can deduct $15 a month as a home office expense. That adds up to a $180 deduction per tax year.

Important limitation: Your home office deduction can’t exceed the amount of income you generate from the home office. So if you spend some of your work time on-site with a client and earn $1,500 there, you can’t claim more than $1,500 because it exceeds what you made at home.

Save bills or cancelled checks to prove what you spent in case of an IRS audit. Also, only repairs, like to the furnace, can be expensed; improvements must be depreciated.

Don’t Forget Depreciation

Depreciation is based on the idea that everything — even something like a home — wears out eventually. If you’re using the long form, figure home office depreciation by calculating the tax basis of your home:

1.  Add the purchase price to the cost of improvements.

2.  Subtract the value of the land it sits on.

3.  Multiply that cost basis by the percentage of your home used for work. This gives you the tax basis for your home office.

4.  Divide by 39 years.

For example:

  • Purchase price: $100,000
  • Value of land: $25,000
  • Cost basis: $75,000, plus cost of improvements you’ve made
  • Tax basis: $75,000 x 10% = $7,500
  • Depreciation deduction: $7,500/39 years*

*Usually, depreciation deductions for a home office are figured over a 39-year period. There are caveats. For instance, if your business opened after Jan. 1 in its first year, you need to calculate a factor of 39. For a crash course, read IRS Publication 946 or talk to a tax pro.

Keep in mind that depreciation deductions on your home office may increase the amount of profit on a home sale that’s subject to taxes. Most taxpayers don’t owe income tax on up to $250,000 of profit if you’re a single filer, $500,000 for joint filers. Consult with a qualified tax professional on how depreciation deductions affect your tax liability when you sell.

Related: More on How Improvements Can Lower Your Cost Basis

Special Rules for In-Home Care Providers

If you provide in-home daycare services for children, the elderly, or disabled persons as a licensed or authorized business, you don’t have to use the home work space exclusively to take the home office deduction.

You calculate your deduction by dividing the number of hours you used your home workspace to provide daycare services during the year by the total number of hours during the year.

For example, if you do daycare 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, that’s 2,000 hours a year, divided by the 8,760 hours in a regular year equals 22.8%. So you could take 22.8% of the $5 per sq. ft. simplified deduction for your daycare workspace.

Related: What You Should Know About Your Home and 2013 Taxes

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/tax-deductions-when-you-work-home/#ixzz2yDyfaJUe
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Go Green… Or Else

The problem with U.S.’s light bulb mandateby Arrol Gellner, Inman News

On Sept. 1 of this year, the European Union began banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs — another well-meaning but heavy-handed effort on the part of bureaucrats to go green.

This is the same government, you may recall, that blundered into requiring that 5.75 percent of its fuel Light bulb2come from biofuel sources by 2010 — a mandate as ill-considered as it was premature.
Anyone who feels like tut-tutting the European nanny state, though, should know that, here in the good old free-market U.S., our own government is planning to phase out incandescent bulbs beginning in 2012.
Rather than letting the obvious economies of more efficient lighting speak for themselves, Congress feels obliged to fine-tune America’s buying habits with a sledgehammer.Such meddling bylegislative fiat is precisely the wrong way to coax people toward more environmentally responsible choices. As a recent editorial in London’s Telegraph said of the EU’s ban:”(It is)an attempt toforward a policy goal — combating global warming — by statutory means. Such legislation imposessubstantial costs on both consumers and the economy, but hides them so that legislators avoid blame.”Although this kind of criticism is widespread, most Europeans seem to be taking the new edict with docile resignation. This is hardly an endorsement, however, and Congress would be ill-advised to follow in the footsteps of the EU’s ban, with its implicit endorsement of a competing technology (compact fluorescent lamps, which carry their own environmental risks) and the unavoidable appearance of government pandering to narrow corporate interests.

Rather than handing down arbitrary decrees on what sort of hardware people can and cannot install in their own homes, Americans would be better served by the creation of a rational, performance-based energy conservation policy — one that would mandate energy budgets and declare, in essence:

“Americans, we must become more responsible consumers of energy. Therefore we are mandating energy consumption limits that are reasonable and fair. There are many ways to comply with these limits, some easy, some not, but how you choose to comply is entirely up to you.”

If such a policy sounds impossible to enforce, note that the mechanism has already long existed, and that it runs quite smoothly, thank you. California’s Title 24 energy code, for instance, has mandated minimum levels of energy efficiency in building construction since 1978, yet it still manages to provide a great deal of latitude in how the standards are met. Most states today have similar legislation.

Few would dispute that the incandescent lamp, which has seen little fundamental change since Thomas Edison perfected it 130 years ago, is a product whose time has passed for all but a few special purposes. Yet given the many less draconian means available to discourage its use, it’s neither advisable nor necessary for Congress to insert itself into the issue.

Incandescent lamps are, after all, just one minor facet of America’s profligate energy use. What’s needed is not a scattering of arbitrary edicts, but rather one intelligent plan.

Next time: A closer look at the incandescent lamp’s heir apparent, the compact fluorescent lamp.

Silicon Valley office market not exactly on fire in Q1

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Silicon Valley’s office vacancy rate mostly treaded water in the first three months of the year, as companies occupied previously leased space and new supply came on the market.

Numbers fresh off the presses from real estate services firm JLL show that tenants occupied 885,000 square feet more than they gave up in the first quarter. That’s up dramatically from Q1 in 2013, when so-called net absorption was just 67,000 square feet, according to JLL.

But because additional new office projects and rehabs came onto the market in Q1, the vacancy rate remained flat. JLL pegs the Valley’s total office vacancy at 16 percent, down a hair from 16.1 percent a year ago. (The figure is up a bit from 15.4 percent in the previous quarter.)

“The addition of new space was the main reason why vacancy was flat,” said Amber Schiada, vice president and director of research out of JLL’s Palo Alto office.

Still, there are some signs that the region’s office market is taking a pause. Exhibit A: There were few big office deals more than 50,000 square feet of existing space in the first quarter in Silicon Valley, though San Francisco’s market was on a tear, with six leases signed north of 100,000 square feet in the city. (That disparity is sure to add fuel to the SF-vs.-Silicon Valley narrative that has been much discussed in commercial real estate circles of late.)

Schiada, however, expressed optimism for an uptick in leasing in the coming quarters: The IPO pipeline is strong and aggregate space requirements are high.

JLL is tracking about 8.3 million square feet of active office requirements in the Valley and mid-Peninsula, including renewals. That’s about in line with the past year’s trend lines.

Also, Silicon Valley is home to 13 startups with at least billion-dollar valuations, and whose collective space requirement is between 420,000 and 770,000 square feet.

Landlords are certainly feeling bullish. Rents rose 30 percent year over year in Mountain View; 28 percent in Santa Clara; and 15 percent in North San Jose.

While the current leasing environment for existing space isn’t exactly on fire, the build-to-suit pipeline retained strength. As we’ve previously reported. Citrix Systems in Santa Clara andLam Research in Fremont are set to occupy sizable build-to-suit space. HGST, a Western Digital company, is moving to add two large new buildings to its existing campus in San Jose. So is Intuitive Surgical and St. Jude Medical Inc. in Sunnyvale.

Other brokerages will be releasing Q1 numbers in the weeks ahead, so we’ll be sure to take a close look at those to assess the general consensus.

Join the Silicon Valley Business Journal  and Association of Silicon Valley Brokers as we discuss the latest trends and developments in commercial real estate on April 11.

Three More Ways to Fill Those Vacancies

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Here are three ideas from my upcoming article series titled “50 Ways to Fill Your Vacancies”. Like you, I’m fired up about the idea of having as many marketing tools as possible to manage properties effectively.

As a property owner and/or manager, you may already have many successful ways to quickly fill your vacancies with well-qualified new residents. My hope is that I can add a long list of intuitive and counter-intuitive suggestions that have worked and will keep on working.

So here are three more suggestions that can insure that the rental income stream keeps flowing to your clients and yourself.

1. Go to the restaurants you frequent the most. Ask the owner or manager to allow you to display a tastefully crafted “take one” box at the check-out counter or hostess table. Make sure it clearly displays the message that a gift certificate for that restaurant will be given to the individual who takes one of the special display cards and gives it to a prospect who becomes a resident.

A variation of this is to tell the restaurant owner, manager or hostess that if someone rents one of your units, you’ll buy a gift certificate from the restaurant and give it to a new patron who has never been to their restaurant. It will generate a fresh batch of regular customer for the restaurant and a repetitive source of referrals to you. You’ll be amazed how many restaurants will love the idea as they’re always looking for new ways to increase their clientel.

2. It may seem old-fashioned in this age of digital, mobile media, but creating a full-page, colorful, glossy hand-out that lists all of the benefits, accoutrements, and features of your available rental still works. Make sure you show some photos of how nice the vacant unit looks, and when you take the photo “stage it” with a few perky pieces of furniture or wall furnishings.

List any extra features like a new dishwasher or free Wi-Fi and provide information about the local area, bus routes, schools, laundry and conveniently popular shopping venue. You’ll be providing a valuable service that few property managers take the time to offer. Let your prospects take your hand-out and tell them to call you if they have any questions. Ask for their contact info so you can follow up.

3. Ask your current residents, clients and “happy campers” for a glowing testimonial of what it’s like to be a resident in one of your well-maintained and thoughtfully managed buildings. Let your prospects know ahead of time how much current and past residents appreciated your services. Ask for as many testimonials as possible, and use them to attract more owner-clients as well as prospective renters to fill your vacancies.

There you have three more ideas on how to fill your vacancies as fast as possible. Keep in mind that if you haven’t tried these ideas lately, you can’t objectively know why they work or how they work.

These ideas derive from my property manager colleagues and my own experiences. Together we have many decades of management and marketing expertise and that’s why I literally have at least 50 of these tried and tested tools.

They’re based on the principles that if you’re willing to do what few property managers are willing to do, you’ll have the kind of success that few will enjoy and experience. Also, your clients and residents don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care. So get busy and show them!

Property Management SaaS PocketRent Announces Upcoming Software Update

On HolidayThe online property management software PocketRent has announced that it will cement its status as the go to solution for smart property owners and managers this week with the hotly anticipated announcement of its proprietary cloud-based tool, PocketRent Pro.

Using the same foundation that powers Facebook, the next generation technology allows landlords, owners and property managers to tap into the power of the cloud through an intelligent B2C and B2B platform. A powerful, intuitive and bespoke SaaS app, PocketRent as well as the forthcoming Pro edition is highly personalised, incredibly relevant and easily monetised. All this sits within a compelling and highly interactive environment which takes the stress out of contract negotiations and tenant communications.

Acting as a single channel for all things rental and investment, the web-based property management system empowers smart property owners by simplifying contract creation and making day-to-day management a breeze. A unique proposition, PocketRent has already won the recognition of a range of prestigious organisations across the globe, most recently receiving an all-expenses paid invitation to the launch of Facebook’s Hack programming language event in April.  The invitation was extended in recognition of PocketRent developers Simon Welsh and James Miller’s contributions to the Facebook code.

Product Manager Mark Huser said, “We are delighted to announce our ongoing commitment to PocketRent Pro which will further empower and assist owners, landlords and managers. Built on the same foundation that powers Facebook, the world’s most powerful social network, PocketRent Pro is an unprecedented property management system for the savvy property professional.

“With three years of experience, we appreciate that privately managing rental property is stressful, cumbersome and often a complex process. Landlords often know what’s involved, but not how to do it. Faced with myriad legal obligations, a slew of processes for managing tenancies, and staying on top of rental payments, the sheer volume of information to manage can be overwhelming. What’s more, investors rely on overly complicated spreadsheets and duplicated data entry in order to analyse and calculate their returns effectively.

“We recognised that large amounts of time and money are spent needlessly coordinating financials, capital values, mortgages and expense management between disparate systems. PocketRent puts an end to this.”

Intuitive, effective and accessible, PocketRent adds fluidity and flexibility to the often complex communication processes linking landlords and tenants. It is supremely flexible, allowing for remote log-in access, multiple account users and shared management administration as well as offering the peace of mind that comes from automatic rent management, ensuring lease monies are paid on time.

PocketRent is also hugely beneficial to renters, with features such as the Tenant Dashboard making viewing payment history and upcoming inspections a breeze.

Satisfied client, Libby Carson says “PocketRent is an awesome service, easy to use and simple to navigate. It takes the hassle out of managing properties, payments and paperwork — a superb idea that’s made our lives easier!”

PocketRent has already established itself as a comprehensive property management tool for a collection of clients across the globe, from Australia and New Zealand to the UK, US and South Africa. The newly expanded cloud based SaaS app optimises and refines the already astounding features of the tool, giving property managers more power and flexibility than ever before.

36 months in the making and PocketRent has entered the industry with a bang. It will shortly announce public investment opportunities following rapid growth since 2012.

Regardless of portfolio size, PocketRent is the ideal management tool for any property administrator, from independent landlords to national firms.

To learn more about PocketRent or to sign up for a free one month trial visit www.pocketrent.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PocketRent

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PocketRent

About PocketRent: PocketRent is a property management tool offering landlords, investors and property managers a comprehensive platform for easily managing all aspects of the property management process. Made in Wellington, New Zealand, the system is personal, interactive and has the potential to save B2C and B2B users vast amounts of time and money.

About PocketRent Pro: Building on the already revolutionising features of PocketRent, PocketRent Pro extends cloud based technology to make property management easier and more flexible than ever. Users are able to access accounts from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, making day to day property management available from anywhere, anytime.

Contact: Issued by Dakota Digital. Please direct press queries to Rebecca Appleton. Email Rebecca@dakotadigital.co.uk or Tel: 01623 428996.

What’s the Right Dose?

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.
Red Listed: The Bullitt Center in Seattle is aiming for Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification, so the team had to vet building products for compliance with LBCs Red List. The list prohibits the use of 14 potentially toxic ingredients (many of which are commonplace in building materials) to ensure a healthier environment for office workers.

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.