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Southside Evans Analysis, Fort Worth Texas

We consulted with Mike Brennan, director of Fort Worth South, Inc., a non-profit organization committed to revitalizing the Near Southside of Fort Worth.  He discussed the various regulatory guidelines and financing options availed to their effort.  Many challenges have been overcome with community and private sector partnership.  Within, the Southside Community is an Urban Village called Evans & Rosedale, for which I took particular passion in.  It is a deteriorating African-American community, where the local community and the City of Fort Worth have begun implementing revitalization efforts.  I have provided an analysis  incorporating a multi-family building in the Evan & Rosedale Urban Village within the following link.

Southside Evans Project

Adaptive Reuse & Redevelopment Site Visits

Within the Adaptive Reuse and Redevelopment Program, we explored various sites throughout the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex.

We visited with Ray Boothe, architect who was involved with the genesis of the revitalization of Magnolia Street in Fort Worth Texas.  There are  several excellent adaptations of redevelopment of historical buildings to serve today’s purpose on Magnolia. The Southside Bank building located on  701 W. Magnolia, is not only a bank, but also is comprised of apartment lofts.  The building has been restored to its original historic charm.

The Brewed Restaurant and Pub located on 801 W. Magnolia is another fine example of a charming and classy redeveloped establishment.

brewed-2282

We also met with The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge founder, Bill Smith, who took a 5000 square foot located at 1311 Lipscomb, historic building that once housed the Lion’s Club and transformed it into a relaxing, intimate acoustic lounge and auditorium-style music hall.

We toured the Texas and Pacific Railway Terminal, more commonly known as the T&P Building located on Lancaster and Throckmorton in Fort Worth, Texas.  Wyatt C. Hedrick, with Herman P. Koeppe as designer planned this monumental railroad complex on the south end of Downtown. The entire complex was designed in the Zigzag Modern Style of Art Deco.  The building was converted into lofts for sale and low-rise apartment building to the east of the tower.  The main lobby is used as a spectacular reception hall.

Lobby

We met with Eddie Vanston, Architect/Developer who is instrumental in the redevelopment of South Main Street in Fort Worth.  We surveyed an old storage warehouse currently being retrofitted into loft apartments.  Also, newly established bakery, Stir Crazy has recently opened and has surpassed their financial goals. Stir Crazy Bakery and Goods, located at 106 E. Daggett Ave., Fort Wort Texas has renovated a portion of an old historic building into a thriving bakery.

Stir Crazy Baked Goods

Ultimately, adaptive reuse and redevelopment is vital in establishing a sustainable community.  There are a number of credits, incentives and financing avenues to assist with the progression in development.  Following, I explore various methods to assist with the implementation in investing and revitalizing land and building use.

Historic Preservation Tax Credits

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program encourages private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings. It creates jobs and is one of the nation’s most successful and cost-effective community revitalization programs. It has leveraged over $62 billion in private investment to preserve 38,000 historic properties since 1976.

A 20% income tax credit is available for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing buildings that are determined by the Secretary of the Interior, through the National Park Service, to be “certified historic structures.” The State Historic Preservation Offices and the National Park Service review the rehabilitation work to ensure that it complies with the Secretary’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The Internal Revenue Service defines qualified rehabilitation expenses on which the credit may be taken. Owner-occupied residential properties do not qualify for the federal rehabilitation tax credit.

http://www.nps.gov/tps/

http://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives.htm

http://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives/taxdocs/about-tax-incentives.pdf

http://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives/before-apply/irs.htm

http://www.illinoishistory.gov/ps/taxcredits.htm

An example of adaptive reuse is the former 80 year old U.S. Post Office and Courthouse at the corner of Ervay and Bryan Streets, downtown Dallas Texas.  A brief tour of the building provided a sense of history and beautiful architectural detail and design which was maintained in the common areas of the historic site.  It is now a luxury residence of 78 units, with underground parking to accommodate residents. http://www.unvisiteddallas.com/archives/2032

New Market Tax Credits

The New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) was established by Congress in 2000 to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities. The NMTC Program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their Federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities (CDEs). The credit totals 39 percent of the original investment amount and is claimed over a period of seven years (five percent for each of the first three years, and six percent for each of the remaining four years). The investment in the CDE cannot be redeemed before the end of the seven-year period.

Since the NMTC Program’s inception, the CDFI Fund has made 664 awards allocating a total of $33 billion in tax credit authority to CDEs through a competitive application process. This $33 billion includes $3 billion in Recovery Act Awards and $1 billion of special allocation authority to be used for the recovery and redevelopment of the Gulf Opportunity Zone.

http://www.cdfifund.gov/what_we_do/programs_id.asp?programID=5

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/atgnmtc.pdf

http://nmtccoalition.org/

 

Community Development Entities

 In order to deliver capital to “new markets” the NMTC authorizing statute created a new category of investment intermediary, Community Development Entities (CDEs). Community Development Entities are the investment vehicle for the NMTC. An organization must be certified as a CDE by the CDFI Fund within the Treasury Department before it can apply for an allocation of Credits. In order to qualify as a CDE, an organization must:

  • be a domestic corporation or partnership at the time of the certification application;
  •  demonstrate a primary mission of serving or providing investment capital for
  • low-income communities or low-income persons; and
  • maintain accountability to residents of low-income communities through representation on a governing board of or advisory board to the entity.

http://www.frbsf.org/publications/community/investments/0308/article1a.html+

http://www.21stcgfund.com/

http://www.chicagodevelopmentfund.org/success-stories.html

Rehabilitation Tax Credits

Prior to 1976, there existed no tax incentive to rehabilitate or preserve historic buildings. The Tax Reform Act of 1976 added IRC section 191 which permitted taxpayers to amortize over a 60-month period certain expenditures to rehabilitate property listed in the National Register of Historic Places or property located in Registered Historic Districts and certified as significant to the district.

The New Markets Tax Credit, Historic Tax Credit and Rehabilitation Tax Credit can be powerful tools and significant sources of financing for real estate projects. However, the amount of available NMTC credit allocation is limited. Consequently, developers that might have qualifying projects should explore CDE investments as early as possible during the project planning. In other words, it is important for the client to engage its bank early (even before development financing is required) before the lender’s credit allocation is used up; whether the bank has a credit allocation may influence the selection of the lender doing the acquisition and development loan.

http://www.ginsbergjacobs.com/assets/08-12-new_historic_rehab_tax_credits.pdf

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-mssp/rehab.pdf

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/rehabilitation_investment_tax_credit_program/2646

http://www.crt.state.la.us/hp/tax_incentives_program.aspx

 

Low Income Housing Tax Credits

The LIHTC Program, which is based on Section 42 of the Internal Revenue Code, was enacted by Congress in 1986 to provide the private market with an incentive to invest in affordable rental housing. Federal housing tax credits are awarded to developers of qualified projects. Developers then sell these credits to investors to raise capital (or equity) for their projects, which reduces the debt that the developer would otherwise have to borrow. Because the debt is lower, a tax credit property can in turn offer lower, more affordable rents.

Provided the property maintains compliance with the program requirements, investors receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their Federal tax liability each year over a period of 10 years. The amount of the annual credit is based on the amount invested in the affordable housing. Before we go on, let’s take a look at the difference between tax credits and tax deductions

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/affordablehousing/training/web/lihtc/basics/work

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxwpoLztx70

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/lihtcmou

Community Development Block Grant

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. Beginning in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD. The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1209 general units of local government and States.

The CDBG program works to ensure decent affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses. CDBG is an important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities. The CDBG program has made a difference in the lives of millions of people and their communities across the Nation.

The annual CDBG appropriation is allocated between States and local jurisdictions called “non-entitlement” and “entitlement” communities respectively. Entitlement communities are comprised of central cities of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs); metropolitan cities with populations of at least 50,000; and qualified urban counties with a population of 200,000 or more (excluding the populations of entitlement cities). States distribute CDBG funds to non-entitlement localities not qualified as entitlement communities.

HUD determines the amount of each grant by using a formula comprised of several measures of community need, including the extent of poverty, population, housing overcrowding, age of housing, and population growth lag in relationship to other metropolitan areas.

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/communitydevelopment/programs

http://www.governing.com/gov-data/other/2012-HUD-Community-Development-Block-Grants-list-map.html

http://www.loansafe.org/louisiana-studies-post-katrina-housing-in-pass-christian

Mortgage Guarantee Programs (through HUD)

Through mortgage insurance, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) helps lenders reduce their exposure to risk of default.  This assistance allows lenders to make lower-cost financing available to more borrowers for home and home improvement loans, and apartment, hospital, and nursing home loans.  FHA provides a vital link in addressing America’s home ownership and affordable rental housing needs.

Mortgage insurance has made financing available in neighborhoods and geographic areas facing economic uncertainty, and to individuals and families not adequately served by the conventional mortgage market.  FHA has been a product innovator, and has seen the private sector follow with similar products and terms once they learn from FHA’s experience.  FHA spreads and manages risk through geographically dispersed loan insurance activity and a portfolio that is diverse in borrowers and products.

Offer Section 184 Native American Mortgages guaranteed by HUD and better serve the needs of Native American, Alaskan Native, and New Mexican Pueblo home buyers. Freddie Mac purchases these mortgages from lenders that have obtained Freddie Mac approval.

Section 184 Native American Mortgages may be secured by 1- to 4-unit primary residences that may be either owner-occupied or leasehold estates located on both fee simple and restricted lands. These mortgages must be sold to Freddie Mac with recourse through the Fixed-rate Guarantor, Fixed-rate Cash or Multi-Lender Swap sale options available in the selling system.

http://hud.gov/offices/cfo/reports/2011/cjs/fha_fund_2011.pdf

http://www.freddiemac.com/sell/expmkts/hudind.html

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-27/fha-bailout-risk-looming-larger-after-guarantee-binge-mortgages

Tax Increment Financing

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is a public financing method that is used for subsidizing, redevelopment infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects. TIF is a method to use future gains in taxes to subsidize current improvements, which are projected to create the conditions for said gains. The completion of a public project often results in an increase in the value of surrounding real estate, which generates additional tax revenue. Sales-tax revenue may also increase, and jobs may be added

TIF districts are not without criticism. Although tax increment financing is one mechanism for local governments that does not directly rely on federal funds, some question whether TIF districts actually serve their resident populations. As investment in an area increases, it is not uncommon for real estate values to rise and for gentrification to occur.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_increment_financing

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/04/30/dallas-boosting-development-with-tax-increment-financing/

http://www.icsc.org/government/CDFA.pdf

Building Code in relationship to Adaptive Reuse

With the advent of adaptive reuse of older buildings, our challenge is to incorporate and update the existing building components to modern day code.  Various aspects of older construction and incorporating new updates is sometimes more costly than demolishing and rebuilding.  However due to our strive to use existing historical structures to maintain and keep in with the sustainable development approach, developers and city planners are keen on the economics of such undertakings.

http://historicbellingham.org/documents_reports_maps/adaptive_reuse.pdf

http://www.structuremag.org/article.aspx?articleID=461

http://adaptivereusernoel.blogspot.com/2012/04/adaptive-reuseredevelopment-and.html

Superfund and Brownfield Grants (EPA)

Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off green spaces and working lands.

Superfund is the federal government’s program to clean up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. We’re committed to ensuring that remaining National Priorities List hazardous waste sites are cleaned up to protect the environment and the health of all Americans.

The EPA Superfund cleanup process begins with site discovery or notification to the EPA of possible releases of hazardous substances. Sites are discovered by various parties, including citizens, State agencies and by Region 6 staff. Once discovered, we enter the site into our computerized inventory of potential hazardous substance release sites. This system is named the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System, or CERCLIS for short. We then evaluate the potential risk for a release of hazardous substances from the site through several steps in the Superfund cleanup process. The Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA) Program has funded over 60 environmental site assessments this past year. Services also include brownfield inventories, area-wide planning and site cleanup planning.

Brownfield Success Story-City of the Village, Oklahoma – The City of the Village, a community located to the north of Oklahoma City, proved that sometimes it is just best to face an economic development challenge head on. At the heart of their 2.6 square mile foot print, was an abandoned apartment complex, whose environmental contamination was keeping a sale and subsequent redevelopment from occurring. With land such a precious commodity in this landlocked suburb, the city leaders used proactive thinking and problem solving to turn this blighted property into a clean-up lesson from which many can benefit. Cities used EPA Revolving Loan Funds and an EPA Cleanup Grant to remove blight, encourage redevelopment and spur growth.

http://www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6sf/brownfields/index.html

http://www.epa.gov/region6/6sf/6sf.htm

http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/

http://www.epa.gov/superfund/

Pedestrian Oriented Development

Pedestrian-oriented developments are those that include a mixture of land uses, shorter distances between likely origins and destinations, and design improvements to the pedestrian environment. Though several such developments have been constructed within California in the last twenty years and planners commonly promote them, there has been little post-occupancy evaluation of their performance in actually increasing pedestrian activity in order to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bishop Arts District is home to over 60 Independent boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, theatres and art galleries.  It is located in the heart of North Oak Cliff, one of Dallas’ most unique neighborhoods.  The area is prime example of pedestrian oriented development.  While strolling through the various shops with ease, there was not much vehicular traffic to inconvenience patrons.

http://bishopartsdistrict.weebly.com/index.html

http://uc-ciee.org/downloads/CRECPODevaluation.pdf

http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wmb/repp/documents/ilupt_chpt_3.2.pdf

http://www.cooltownstudios.com/2005/05/03/the-13-points-of-pedestrian-oriented-development/

Transit Oriented Development

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) refers to residential and commercial centers designed to maximize access by transit and non-motorized transportation, and with other features to encourage transit ridership.  A typical TOD has a rail or bus station at its center, surrounded by relatively high-density development, with progressively lower-density spreading outwards one-quarter to one-half mile, which represents pedestrian scale distances. Transit Oriented Development as an approach to combat traffic congestion and protect the environment has caught on all across the country. The trick for real estate developers has always been identifying the hot transportation system.  Today, highways are out; urban transit systems are in.” –The Urban Land Institute (ULI)

http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm45.htm

http://www.transitorienteddevelopment.org/

http://www.dallas-ecodev.org/redevelopment/tod/

Commercial Property Analysis-August 2012

Raintree Apartments

808 S Center Street, Grand Prairie, TX 75051

  • Recent renovation includes: new roof, complete exterior paint job and upgraded units
  • All structural & mechanical systems replaced in the past 4 years
  • Median household income $49,319 in a 1-mile radius exceeds national & state’s averages
  • Walking distance to Elementary & Middles Schools

 

 

Raintree Apartments is a 34 unit garden-style apartment community located in Grand Prairie, TX. The Property recently underwent a renovation with includes: new roof, gutters, complete exterior paint job, wood/siding replacement and new exterior lighting fixtures. A water conservation program was implemented with the installation of low flow faucets, shower heads and adjustable toilet flappers. The units also received new electrical switches, outlets, hard surface flooring, counter tops and many new appliances.

Raintree is located at the corner of Center Street and Skyline Rd. which sees a traffic count of 3,550 cars per day. The average income is $58,070 within a 1 mile radius of the property. The subject’s location offers quick and convenient access to employment in the DFW Metro area which is comprised of more than 6.3 million people and over 130,000 business establishments. The property was constructed in 1967 with a concrete slab foundation, brick veneer and wood exterior under a pitched composition roof. Electricity is master metered with HVAC provided by a Carrier air-cooled 2 pipe chiller system that was replaced in 2008.

The immediate area is a residential community with individual homes, churches and other smaller multifamily properties. The property is close to shopping, City of Grand Prairie Central Business District, schools and major roadways giving the tenants access to major attractions within the Metroplex. The property is also very near the Great Southwest Industrial Park (GSW). A major employment source GSW is the largest master-planned business park in the nation and consists of over 77 million SF of industrial warehouse/distribution in over 900 buildings. Grand Prairie, TX is conveniently located just 15 miles from Downtown Dallas. Joe Pool Lake, Lone Star Park (horse track) and Nokia Theater are just a few of the many local attractions in Grand Prairie. Residents also enjoy being less than 5 miles from Six Flags Over Texas, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

Ultimately this is quite a good investment, for one who requires a steady stream of income.  Attached is the financial worksheet showing the numbers through year 10.

Fianacial Analysis Worksheet

References: Dallas County Appraisal District –DCAD

US Census Bureau

Loopnet.org

City-Data Texas –Grand Prairie 75051

Site Tours – May 26, 2012

Trinity River Audubon Center

Our first visit was the Trinity River Audubon Center, the city of Dallas’ first LEED certified building. Sahar Sea, Education Manager, explained the site was previously used as a landfill that was used for illegal dumping for years. Through the efforts of the City of Dallas and architect, Antoine Predock, they have designed the site to minimize the effects on the environment and repair some of the pre-existing problems from the illegal dumping. Following the state’s requirements and the goal of returning the land to nature for the use of future generation and as the site of the Trinity River Audubon Center, the restoration plan consolidated landfill waste into capped rolling hills replanted tall prairie grass and hardwood trees.

The Center is designed to reduce storm water runoff and erosion. At the base of the hills, a series of cascading wetland marshes and ponds captures and filters runoff from adjoining neighborhoods and prairies before returning the cleansed water to the river. All trails are wheel chair-accessible and are made of recycled decking material or decomposed granite, which channels rainwater into the wetland pond system.

There were many other key sustainable elements throughout the Trinity River Audubon Center. The interior walls are made of a combination of concrete and fly ash. Fly ash is a by-product of coal mining that would usually end up in a landfill. The Center is designed to utilize the maximum daylight and views to the exterior without nternal heat gain the hot Texas sun. Also throughout the building the glass windows are slanted with soap circle to reduce sun glare and bird strikes.

The exterior wall of the exhibition hall is made of Corten steel, which is low maintenance product which has a beautiful patina as it ages and rusts.

 

 

The ceilings have acoustical ceiling tile made of 100% recycled cotton.

 

 

 

Likewise, there are components of the site which assists in reducing energy costs. The building has light-reflecting white roofing which helps minimize heat absorption. The insulation is made of 14″ inch recycled denim. The administrative wing has windows that can open during cool weather to relieve the pressure from the air conditioning system.

The Trinity River Audubon Center reuses local natural resources throughout the site.
Namely the exterior of the entrance to the building is East Texas Cypress.

 

 

 

The floors in main lobby are comprised of East Texas Bamboo.

 

 

 

 

 

The office furniture is “cradle to cradle” which is comprised of recycled materials and the cabinets are from recycled East Texas Pecan.

 

 

 

 

 

Landscaping is filled with drought tolerant, native plants and grasses to Texas.

All in all, the Trinity River Audubon Center done what I say in my words to my family all the time, “Use what you got.” The center has taken an unsightly, toxic landfill and turned it into a beautiful oasis for birds and nature lovers alike with the use of local natural resources and materials. No out-sourcing here. The center has succeeded in its efforts of sustainability.

The Fairmont Dallas

Jason James, Director of Engineering led our class on the site tour of the Fairmont Hotel, in the heart of the arts district in the city of Dallas.  It is a multi-use luxury building, comprised of hotels, apartments and retail space.  The Fairmont’s elements of sustainability were discovered through the use of fluorescent and LED lighting.  The hotel utilizes single stream recycling.  To say the least, they even recycle the grey water from the ice machines which goes back through the roof tower and into the coolers of HVAC system.

Another resource saving method the hotel has adapted is out sourcing the laundry facilities.  Without the mechanism to recycle their laundry water on site, the hotel has found a launderer who has their own reuse of water established, therefore the Fairmont will not be wasting water on laundered items.

Also, the hotel commissions artists who recycle and up cycle materials for the artwork throughout their hotels.

The rooftop garden displays an array of plants and vegetables also including a greenhouse.  The garden is a tranquil getaway, there is lounge sitting for the guests to relax and provides fresh fruits and vegetables for the chef to use in her recipes.

Although, Mr. James explained the hotel only has single pane windows and this is admittedly an economic challenge for the hotel to overcome, it is certainly has done good effort in the right direction.  I learned we must start somewhere and we cannot do everything at once.

Sustainable Project Features. Trinity River Audubon Center, 2012. [Brochure]

Ferrier Homes Residential Build

We visited a new residence site at 2807 Hedgerow Drive in Dallas.  Don Ferrier, owner and CEO of Ferrier Custom Homes guided us through the details of new build.  Initially the homeowner wanted to renovated the previous existing home; however he discovered it would be more cost effective to rebuild a new more energy conscious home.  The home will be two stories, approximately 1800-1900 square feet with a concrete basement.  Experts estimate a typical home of this side in North Texas would normally yield an electric cost of $400- $500 monthly.  In contrast, once completed, Hedgerow energy costs monthly will only be approximately $60!              

The sustainable elements in the home will include an air conditioning system with energy effective rating of 18, tankless water heater and white TPO roofing.  The roof is considered a lifetime roof by insurance industry standards and can uphold in a Class 4 tornado, due to the anchor bolting of every 3 feet instead 6 feet as code require of the wall assembly.  The insulation will have a spray foam value of 25. Buffalo grass will be laid down.  Once established after the first year, its water needs will be minimal.

I initially questioned the rate of return on the homeowner’s investment.  However, if he plans on staying in his home for many years to come, the costs will be worth the investment.

Green Living

Our last stop of the day was Green Living retail store located at 1130 Dragon St., Suite 140, Dallas TX.  Green Living sells eco-friendly products for your home and garden.   The products are recycled and chemical free; perfect for our allergy sufferers out here.

Dining sets made of reclaimed wood

Glassware from recycled glass

Check out their website and go shopping.  http://www.green-living.com/

In summary, sustainability efforts can be applied to all types of projects, being residential, commercial, retail or parks & recreation.  Our visits today, exemplified some our Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design.   As Jane Ahrens, Director of Sustainability and Project Architect at Gresham, Smith and Partners stated, LEED was established for organizations who want to be leaders and show exemplary performance. Despite the companies who want to be perceived as leaders, with the continued efforts of businesses and government programs, I have observed in the past couple of weeks, I believe sustainability of natural resources and energy will be a play a major role of all in the near future.

Site Tours – May 19, 2012

Bedford Public Library

Surprisingly, we learned the Bedford Public Library of Bedford, Texas, was an old Food Lion grocery store in the past, explained to us by Maria Redburn, Library Manager.  You honestly would never believe it, by looking at the new renovations.  The adaptive reuse of the building is impressive.  The sustainable elements applied to the building have lowered their energy costs by 50 percent.

The City of Bedford did use an outside firm for their grant writing.  As a result, the library acquired a number of grants to assist with the installation of solar panels, reflective roofing, geo-thermal wells, low E glass, insulation and energy-efficient lighting throughout the 40,000 square foot library.

The decision to make the library more environmentally efficient was more of business decision and not a green decision.  Due to the recession and government cutbacks, the budget for the library was decreased; therefore they had to find cost-cutting methods to continue on.  With the new updates, their energy bills have decreased $20,000 annually.  As a result, there are two-fold benefits, the library will not need to decrease staffing and future energy consumption will have decreased.

Another cost saving method, was in the purchase in of automatic sorter for library materials once they have been returned.  The sorter scans the item and sends it to a specific bin, where the library staff can easily stack the materials on the shelf, without using more time to sort.  The cost of the sorter was half a million dollars, however it will pay for itself within 7 years, explained Ms. Redburn.

Bedford Library Automatic Sorter

I surmised if other government municipalities use the Bedford Library as a model to approach decreasing budgets, they will be able to save not only libraries, but many other programs that are usually the first to go in a budget crisis, such as education, teachers, and music & arts programs.

Recycle Revolution

Recycle Revolution began with a visionary, Mr. Eddie Lott, founder.  Recycle Revolution (RR) is located near downtown Dallas Texas and provides recycling, compost and solid waste programs for their growing clientele.  RR collects and ships recyclable items.  They have two loading trucks and a staff of twelve that are all committed to being environmentally conscious.

Foster a culture of recycling in North Texas, provide outstanding service to businesses that care, and use our success to rally for the causes of good neighborhoodship and environmental awareness.
– Recycle Revolution Mission Statement

Recycle Revolution accept paper, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, glass, electronics and small appliances.    Eddie explains glass has a very low commodity here in North Texas and their best value is hard white paper; $300 for a ton.  This is good in the recycling world.   In contrast, newspaper has a very low value.   Hard to believe Styrofoam is accepted as well.  RR has a client who will use the melted down Styrofoam mixed with other components to create a product to use to make Dome homes;  a much better use, than sitting in landfills for thousands of years.

Eddie, explained to us about another environmental program called the Dallas Eco-Op, where there are number of vendors providing eco-friendly services which others are need of. The Eco-Op offers education and local jobs.  In turn, the vendors have a financial gain, with the goods and services they provide.

Programs such as the Eco-Op and Recycle Revolution actually brought home to me, how I can contribute more to being green than just tossing my cans and bottles in my green recycle bin.  I learned we can all Reduce, Reuse and Recycle many items in our homes, if we take a few extra steps in our daily lives.

The Omni Hotel Fort Worth

We visited the Omni Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas.  Mike Davis, Assistant Director of Engineering led the tour. We first stopped in engineering, where Mike showed us the program used by the Omni to electronically control the heating and cooling throughout the hotel.  They try to stay within the parameters of 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, depending upon room occupancy and time of day.

We then were guided to what is called the Chiller Room.  Housed in the chiller room is the piping for the water flow throughout the hotel.  They are 3 chiller and cooler towers which utilize hydro-electric controls that are on timers.

Our last stop was the beautiful rooftop garden.   There was a broad assortment of plants and a vegetable garden.  The garden provided not only a way for the chef to serve the freshest vegetables, but is was also aesthetically appealing and guests were taking advantage of this by having a nice, peaceful stroll through the garden. I learned, not only can sustainability be eco-friendly it can be beautiful.

The Tarrant Regional Water District

Tarrant Regional Water District

Laura Blalock of the Tarrant Regional Water District guided the tour of their building on 808 East Northside Drive in Fort Worth, Texas which is honored in being a LEED Gold status building.   There were many elements which make the building sustainable, but most notable were the solar arrays. The solar arrays installation is what brought them to level of Gold Standard.  At the completion of the install, the Tarrant Regional Water District had the largest solar array install in the state of Texas until the Veteran’s Administration Building in Dallas completed their install.

The other elements which achieves the building’s sustainability are:
Solar panels, grid-tied
Hydro-Electric Turbines
Double Pane Low-E Glass
Fluorescent Lighting
Concrete flooring and countertops
Cork Flooring
Austin Limestone
Furniture made with recyclable products
Open Cabling (ease to repair)
No VOC paint
Use of natural Beeswax, for countertop and floor cleaning

Moreover, the landscaping has drought-tolerant plants.  The shrubs are the only plants that are watered and this is through drip irrigation, which is supplied from two large rain barrels where water is collected throughout the year.

With the success of the Tarrant Regional Water District building, the City of Fort Worth has  adopted a policy that every new building renovation will now be a LEED building.

Overall, my feelings about all the visits have a cumulative effect.  I feel more passionate about being more eco-friendly and only hope I can continue with the program to learn more.   However if I cannot, I can take away from the experience with trying to be more vigilant at home and in in my local community with educating others and doing more reusing and recycling.

How has my organization addressed Corporate Social Responsibility?

Bank of America’s social responsibility is showcased through the Bank of America Charitable Foundation; we deploy our philanthropic support in communities across our global footprint. With annual giving of $200 million, we are one of the largest financial institution philanthropic donors and the second largest cash giver in the U.S. Overall, our giving falls into four categories critical to the long-term success of our neighborhoods:
• Community Development/Neighborhood Preservation
• Education and Youth Development
• Health and Human Services
• Arts and Culture

In 2009, in response to the economic downturn, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation launched its Emergency Safety Net Strategy to help meet pressing community needs stemming from the unprecedented economic crisis. Since then, we have provided more than $9 million in philanthropic support and direct funding to enable health and human service nonprofit organizations to continue delivering core health care, job training, hunger relief, shelter and childcare programs and services to help stabilize our communities.

Our conduct is guided by our core values, our code of ethics and a commitment to openness and transparency.

Corporate governance is ultimately overseen by our Board of Directors, which is largely composed of directors who are independent of management.

 In 2009, we identified a number of changes and priorities which have been a focus during the past 18 months. These included modifying board membership and committee membership; focusing on enterprise risk through establishment of the Enterprise Risk and Credit Committees (in addition to the preexisting Audit Committee); adjusting how management reports to the board; further enhancing the orientation process for directors and increasing board interaction with senior management; and formalizing the board’s process for approving the company’s annual risk appetite.

 Through our participation, we aim to lend our voice to the creation of policies that sustain our industry, support our customers and benefit society. For example, Bank of America supported creation of a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau as part of the Dodd-Frank Act passed in 2010. While there were areas of disagreement, we supported the stated goals in the legislation of transparency, simplicity, fairness, accountability and access for consumers.

 In 2010, we worked closely with governments to advance key policy priorities, including our ongoing support for small businesses, enhanced consumer protections, the creation of a new global risk framework and help for people trying to stay in their homes. Specifically we: Consulted policymakers and government leaders about proposed legislative and regulatory changes that would improve consumer financial protection.  In the U.S., we engaged on key legislative and regulatory initiatives, including:

• Regulation Fair Disclosure
• Dodd-Frank Regulatory Reform Bill
• Basel III global financial guidelines

 Ultimately, with the strategies we are implementing, it will provide a competitive edge to improve gains for customers, clients and shareholders.

Bank of America 2010 CSR Report. (online). Available: http://ahead.bankofamerica.com/featured/bank-of-america-releases-corporate-social-responsibility-report/

What Did I Take Away From Our In Class Meeting- May 12?

Initially, I was alarmed; Texas is #1 in the nation for the most CO2 emissions. Wow, we need to do better than this for our children and our environment. However Texas is not the only culprit, the U.S. overall is guilty in extreme overuse of energy. However, on the flip side, Germany has 70 percent less resources but is much more efficient in energy consumption due to wind and solar energy. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) needs to have more integrity here in the United States. We learned in class it is more profitable to be proactive versus reactive to the effects of social irresponsibility. There is beginning to be a cultural shift in businesses and governments today. For example, the City of Fort Worth Economic Development started a Drill Down initiative, focusing on the South East area of the city and its citizens, with hopes in revitalizing the underserved area.

With all that was spoken, I learned we as individuals, small groups and larger groups in society can make an effective change towards social responsibility. We all have a part in the protection of our environment and the existing resources. Ultimately, we can accomplish these goals, through our own efforts and upwardly to more universal efforts inclusive of community, states and countries.

Who am I?

I have been working in various areas of mortgage servicing for years with a leading financial institution, Bank of America.  My current role is assisting homeowners with preventing their homes going into foreclosure. I have worked in mortgage origination and also have been a licensed realtor years ago. With the Masters of Real Estate Sustainability, I hope to gain extensive knowledge in real estate transactions, analysis and development to further my career.

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