Nov. 2, 2006
Maintenance and repair costs nationwide. NIST’s progressive collapse report released. Survey reveals gaps in disaster preparedness. And more.

Science Center of Iowa Engages and Inspires

Four-times larger than the previous building it occupied, the new Science Center of Iowa was designed to engage visitors in scientific discovery and serve as a cultural icon for Des Moines, IA. The Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership’s architectural expression in the building includes the use of strong color and a sense of transparency achieved by exposing indoor activities to outside passersby. A 220-seat IMAX® Dome Theater, a 175-seat Science Adventure Theater, and a 50-foot domed Star Theater are highlighted in black and blue tones, evoking sky and water. To complement neighboring red-brick buildings in its urban neighborhood, the Science Center uses a combination of red/orange terra cotta panels, polished stainless-steel panels, glass, and contrasting yellow brick.

IREM Releases Latest Income/Expense Analysis® Reports

The 2006 Income/Expense Analysis reports for key property sectors reveal 2005 vs. 2004 operating data and cost comparisons. Published by the Chicago-based Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM®), the annual study is used to help property owners and managers benchmark property performance.

Office Buildings

  • Vacancy levels for suburban office properties rose 2 percent in 2005 to a total of 5 percent. Those for downtown properties increased 3 percent to a total of 7 percent.

Shopping Centers

  • The national occupancy level for open shopping centers in 2005 was 96 percent, a decline of 1 percent from 2004.

Conventional Apartments

  • In 2005, total expenses for low-rise buildings with 12 to 24 units rose 4 percent; low-rise buildings with 25-plus units increased 2.9 percent; garden apartments rose 1.8 percent; and elevator buildings increased 0.7 percent.

Federally Assisted Multi-Family Housing

  • Operating expenses for all but three types of federally subsidized multi-family housing increased in 2005 from 2004 levels, with increases ranging from 8 cents to 70 cents per square foot of rentable area.


  • Annual operating expenses for all condominium property types increased 1.4 percent in 2005 to $1,938.51 per unit.

ASHE Commits to Energy Efficiency

The Chicago-based American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) has made a public commitment to improve energy efficiency in hospitals by 10 percent, joining the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Challenge. In the first year of the campaign, ASHE estimates that members will save more than $65 million in energy costs and prevent nearly 3 million pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions. ASHE will take the following actions:

  • Identify hospitals with successful energy programs.
  • Develop case studies highlighting energy-management methods.
  • Produce an energy-efficiency section on its website (
  • Develop a chapter-focused energy program.
  • Recognize members for energy-efficiency improvements of 10 percent or more.

NIST Releases Report on Progressive Collapse

The Washington, D.C.-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) worked with experts in the design, construction, and operation of buildings to prepare Best Practices for Reducing the Potential for Progressive Collapse in Buildings. Progressive collapse, brought to the forefront in the 1995 collapse of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, is the spread of an initial local failure in a structure until it results in the collapse of the entire building or a disproportionately large part of it. The report responds to one of the 30 recommendations for improvements to building codes, standards, and practices in the final report of NIST’s investigation into the World Trade Center disaster.

Items featured in the document include an acceptable-risk approach to progressive collapse, a review of design methods used to enhance a building’s resistance to progressive collapse, a look at progressive-collapse provisions in building standards around the world, and case studies of progressive-collapse events triggered by abnormal loading (where building integrity is compromised by unexpected hazards from explosions, aircraft or vehicle impacts, foundation failures, construction errors, etc.).

Survey Reveals Gaps in Disaster Preparedness

The National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), a division of The Texas A&M University System’s Texas Engineering Extension Service in College Station, TX, commissioned a survey to discover trends in disaster-preparation efforts at large companies in six industries: commercial real estate, healthcare, energy, chemical, entertainment, and transportation. According to the survey, the commercial real estate industry is the least prepared in terms of response planning, training, and conducting exercises. Key findings of the survey include:

  • Within the past year, 77 percent of respondents across all six industries have updated disaster-response and recovery plans.
  • Although most commercial real estate professionals feel prepared for disaster, 40 percent have never conducted exercises to test their disaster plans.
  • More than one-quarter (28 percent) of those who responded from the commercial real estate industry do not train employees on disaster-preparedness plans.
  • In the entertainment industry, 37 percent reported they have never conducted disaster exercises.
  • The energy industry appears most prepared, according to the survey. Only 19 percent of respondents said that their companies have not conducted disaster exercises in the past year.
  • Employees at large companies (those with 10,000-plus employees) were most satisfied with their plans (44 percent).

New Insurance Products Good for Environment & Owners

A report from the Boston-based Ceres investor coalition, From Risk to Opportunity: How Insurers Can Proactively and Profitably Manage Climate Change,
identifies new insurance products that give building owners credits and incentives for building green. Following the disastrous hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, some insurance companies are making a connection between global warming and the intensity of extreme weather events. The 190 products and services highlighted in the report cover climate-change solutions including energy efficiency, green-building design, and carbon-emissions trading.

AAMA to Develop Voluntary Standards for Window/Door Performance

A Schaumburg, IL-based American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) task group
is evaluating the testing of window and door performance in wind-driven rain conditions to develop a voluntary standard specification for more reliable performance. Recognizing that a limited amount of water infiltration through a window or door must be anticipated in hurricane conditions, AAMA’s goal is to balance performance requirements with realistic design considerations and manufacturing costs.

According to Dean Lewis, certification manager at AAMA, “At this preliminary stage, the permissible quantity of water that actually passes the inner plane of the product is targeted to be no more than 2 ounces after 300 pulsating wind cycles. This translates to approximately 2 ounces of water every 10 minutes during a 100-mph hurricane.” The AAMA is actively seeking input from window manufacturers and code officials.

AGC: Construction Costs Rise, Inflation to Increase

The Arlington, VA-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)
warns of a 6- to 8-percent inflation rate for construction materials in its latest Construction Inflation Alert (CIA). After declining in 2004 and 2005, steel prices rose again in 2006. Other metal costs, copper in particular, have increased even more than steel mill products. Construction materials are typically vulnerable to above-average cost increases because of transportation and delivery costs.

New York City has Nation’s Highest Maintenance and Repair Costs

Santa Barbara, CA-based Whitestone Research recently released the 11th edition of the Whitestone Building Maintenance and Repair Cost Reference, 2006-2007,
containing maintenance and repair (M&R) cost statistics for 200 U.S. metropolitan areas and 10 Canadian cities. Overall, M&R costs for all cities increased by 8.7 percent in 2005. New York City had the highest M&R cost per square foot at $3.84, while Beaufort, SC, had the lowest at $1.42.

Comparison of M&R Costs by Metropolitan Area
2006 RankingCityCost per Sq. Foot*Annual Increase (%)
New York City
Younkers, NY
San Francisco
Newark, NJ
Jersey City, NJ
Trenton, NJ
Stamford, CT
Philadelphia, PA
San Jose, CA
Oakland, CA
*M&R cost of a model two-story office building over a 50-year period as per the data defined in the Whitestone Building Maintenace and Repair Cost Reference, 2006-2007 . SOURCE: Whitstone Research

ASHRAE Proposes New Moisture Control Standard

To help combat mold growth and other moisture problems in buildings,
the Atlanta-based American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is proposing a standard that formulates design assumptions for moisture design analysis and criteria for acceptable performance. Proposed Standard 160P, Design Criteria for Moisture Control in Buildings, goes beyond prescriptive recommendations currently in building codes. The period of review is scheduled to close on Nov. 6, 2006. Visit ( for more information.

ASE Honors 2006 “Stars of Energy Efficiency”

On Sept. 12, 2006, the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance to Save Energy honored The Dow Chemical Company,
the City of Syracuse, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the Trust Fund for Electric Energy Saving (FIDE), the National Affordable Housing Network (NAHN), and Power Integrations Inc. as its 2006 “Stars of Energy Efficiency.” The Dow Chemical Company exceeded its aggressive 10-year goal to improve its global energy efficiency by 20 percent; the City of Syracuse retrofitted municipal buildings with energy-efficient equipment, performed comprehensive energy audits on major city facilities, and implemented a city-wide energy-management system; Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is investing approximately $550 million per year in energy efficiency and sustainable technologies; FIDE has supplied financial assistance to more than 3,000 energy-saving projects; NAHN has trained tens of thousands of contractors and builders in energy-efficient building practices; and Power Integrations has more than 150 U.S. patents and has been recognized repeatedly for its cutting-edge energy-efficiency technology.

New Medical Center is Equipped for Disaster

At a price tag of $96.4 million, the Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center in Williamsburg, VA, opened on Aug. 17, 2006
. In addition to patient-centered design elements, the 339,000-square-foot facility features the latest in medical technologies for an age of terrorism, pandemics, and natural disasters.


An observation unit in the emergency department is equipped with a separate air-handling system to prevent the spread of airborne illness. The entire hospital can run in a negative pressure quarantine unit in the event of a chemical or biological attack. For extra security, all doors can be locked with a single button, preventing contaminated walk-in patients from entering the facility anywhere but the decontamination unit. The facility has access to two local power sources and three back-up generators - enough to power the entire hospital for 3 days. In the rear of the building, a covered ambulance entrance can quickly be converted to a two-part decontamination unit with built-in showerheads and water controls.

Symbiot Releases Snow-Removal Cost Index

Symbiot, a national provider of outsourced facility and property services based in Draper, UT,
has released its U.S. Snow Price index to help property owners and managers plan their budgets. Matt Glover, vice president of national account operations, says that factors such as fuel and labor may cause costs to rise an additional 5 to 8 percent over the course of the winter-weather season. The Mid-Atlantic region continues to be the most expensive area on a per-event basis.

U.S. Property Services Cost Index: Snow and Ice Removal
2005/2006 Base Year Data
Average Cost = 1.00*
Mountain West
Upper Midwest
Lower Midwest
Great Lakes
New England
*Region benchmark based on average data within region. Individual site and location data may vary. Average cost assumes single level area with few obstacles and/or medians. SOURCE: Symbiot

NEII Launches Online Code Database

The Salem, NY-based National Elevator Industry Inc. (NEII) Central Code Committee’s online catalog
of U.S. and Canadian elevator-industry codes, standards, and regulations is now operational. The NEII CodeFinder Database allows all NEII Full Regular Members to easily locate codes, including accessibility, building, electrical, new and existing elevator and life-safety codes, regulations, and applicable laws. Available though in the MEMBERS area of NEII’s website (, CodeFinder also features a directory of code-enforcement authorities and their referenced codes.

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