Sept. 25, 2006
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ survey shows positive real estate market, JAMA study analyzes AED recalls, USGBC approves BIFMA emissions standards, and more

JAMA Study Analyzes AED Recalls

According to a study in the Aug. 9, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were found to have greater than a 20-percent chance of being recalled for potential malfunction over the past decade. The use of the portable units has increased nearly 10-fold over the past decade due to their ease of use and life-saving success on cardiac-arrest victims. Between 1996 and 2005, a total of 52 AED safety alerts and recalls were issued, affecting 385,922 AEDs or critical AED accessories. Device recalls were most often issued due to hardware malfunctions, which may result in a failure of the AED to power on, charge, or successfully deliver a shock.

“Though they are simple to use, AEDs are, in fact, complex medical devices,” explains the study’s senior author William Maisel, director of the pacemaker and defibrillator service at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA. The study also found that device malfunctions occurred during attempted resuscitation in 370 patients.

Survey Reveals Effects of Workplace Design

Gensler, an architecture and design firm based in San Francisco, recently released the results of a survey on the effects of office design on employee performance. The Gensler 2006 U.S. Workplace Survey sampled eight industry groups among U.S.-based companies. Highlights of the survey include the following:

  • Office workers believe they would be 21-percent more effective if given a better working environment; nearly half of respondents say they would work an extra hour per day under improved circumstances.
  • Nine out of 10 workers believe that better office design leads to better overall employee performance and makes a company more competitive.
  • Forty-six (46) percent of workers do not believe that creating a productive workplace is a priority at their companies; 40 percent say that minimizing costs is the reason behind their office’s current layout.
  • One in five respondents rated their current physical workplace environment as being “fair to poor.”
  • Approximately 66 percent of workers believe they are more efficient when working closely with coworkers; 30 percent don’t think their current workspace promotes collaboration.
  • Over 90 percent of respondents say the quality of their working environment affects their mood and attitude about their work.

APPA Releases Study on Asset Investment

A recent study conducted by Alexandria, VA-based Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers’ (APPA’s) Center for Facilities Research (CFaR) addresses building asset investment strategies on college and university campuses. Buildings ... The Gifts That Keep on Taking: A Framework for Integrated Decision-Making reveals that there is no national, standard practice for the investment and management of physical assets. With the deterioration of older buildings and campus infrastructures, major future investments for renovation and replacement will be needed.

The study proposes that higher institutions develop the foundation of a comprehensive, integrated asset investment strategy on which all facilities decisions can be based by addressing a basic set of questions. These questions include: Why should we invest? What can we afford? Where should we invest? When should we invest? How much should we invest? According to APPA, higher-education institutions spend about $20 billion annually on facilities operations - including maintenance, energy, and utilities - and anywhere from $15 billion to $18 billion annually on the construction of new facilities and/or the renovation of existing buildings.

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has approved a third alternative in its LEED for Commercial Interiors EQ 4.5 low-emitting furniture credit. Called Option C, it is based on the Grand Rapids, MI-based Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) Intl. Furniture Emissions Standards for office furniture systems and seating products. The result of over 10 years of development, the standards address continued concerns regarding IAQ while providing a process for testing, measuring, and determining conformance. Option C opens testing and certification to multiple qualified labs and certification bodies. By allowing customers, architects, designers, and manufacturers to select the most suitable option, it facilitates more-accessible IAQ testing and validation.

Survey Shows Positive Real Estate Market

New York City-based Pricewaterhouse­Coopers’ Second Quarter 2006 Korpacz Real Estate Investor Survey® indicates that U.S. commercial real estate is still perceived as a favorable allocation alternative for investors. The quarterly survey’s respondents were professionals involved with the real estate industry, including institutional investors, REITs, pension funds, mortgage bankers, developers, and insurance companies. Despite concerns about high energy costs, rising interest rates, and the possibility of higher capitalization rates down the road, investors have confidence about the future. Highlights of the survey include:

  • Office Markets. Landlords in many areas have begun scaling back on concessions and incentives used to lure tenants. If the positive trend continues, investors may increase rental rates.
  • Industrial Markets. Many individual geographic markets report strong demand, decreasing vacancy rates, and rising rental rates.
  • Retail Markets. National power-center investors prefer big-box retailers over smaller-sized stores, which are seen as riskier with higher levels of overall capitalization rates (OARs). Investors indicate that strip shopping centers are priced at premium levels and fewer quality regional mall assets are for sale, decreasing the sales volume for both.
  • Net Lease Markets. Transaction volume in each net lease segment - sale-leaseback, 1031 exchange, and triple-net-leased properties - remained at vigorous levels during the first quarter of 2006.
  • Apartment Markets. Rising interest rates and overall capitalization rates are reducing margins in many apartment transactions, pricing many leveraged buyers out of the market.

GM Opens LEED Gold Facility

Lansing, MI-based General Motors’ new Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant recently received LEED Gold certification, making it the first automotive manufacturing plant in the world - as well as the largest facility and the most complex manufacturing site - to ever receive any level of LEED certification. Over the first 10 years of operation, the facility is expected to save over 40 million gallons of water and 30 million kWh of electricity. Savings from energy efficiency alone are projected at $1 million per year. More than 25 percent of the construction materials were composed of recycled content, and 80 percent of the waste generated during construction was diverted from landfills.

EETD Develops New Daylighting Technology

The National Multi Housing Council (NMHC), Washington, D.C., and the Alexandria, VA-based National Apartment Association (NAA) have released a white paper outlining steps that apartment firms can take to prepare for a pandemic-flu outbreak. Pandemic Flu: Apartment Owner Preparations provides information on developing an emergency-preparedness program, flu-specific elements of continuity plans and site controls, apartment-specific concerns, and legal issues. “Pandemic flu presents unique challenges for residential property owners and managers,” says Eileen Lee, NMHC/NAA vice president of environment. “Most businesses only need to have continuity plans for their business operations, but in the event of an outbreak, apartment firms will have to operate their businesses at a very high level so they can continue to provide housing for their residents.”

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