Brownfields Sites Cleanup and Development

The Newsletter

REAL ESTATE
Brownfields Study Tackles the Elephant in the Room
Developing brownfield sites can benefit communities across North America and offer opportunities for investors, if they can deal with the elephant in the room: environmental cleanup costs.

According to an article in Hazmat Management magazine, there are almost a half-million contaminated sites across North America, with more than 450,000 in the United States. The benefits of cleanup efforts are significant: they remove sources of contaminants, reclaim scarce land, and generate taxes from sites usually located in industrial areas with existing services and transportation. But costs are significant, too: a total North American brownfield-sites cleanup may cost up to a trillion dollars.

Hazmat recently reported on a cost/benefit study from North Carolina State University that may provide important insight into the value of cleanups. The study examined cleanup results of several Minnesota brownfield sites by measuring the land value of neighboring properties before and after the work. The writer notes: “…researchers found that sales prices rebounded around sites that were remediated so that they were ultimately no different than sales prices of homes around clean industrial/commercial properties.”

This is good news for governments, which are mainly responsible for cleaning up brownfield sites, but proof of rebounding real estate values also bodes well for would-be developers and investors.

And, although researchers caution that the value of post – reclaimed land must be considered as only one factor in determining nearby property values, the North Carolina State results still go a long way toward quantifying – and dealing with-the elephant in the room.


MARKETING
Pokémon Go: Is It a Marketing Dream or a Flash in the Pan?
Pokemon

In case you’ve missed it, Pokémon Go has all the signs of becoming a marketing game-changer.

The free, location-based augmented reality game is played on mobile phones using their GPS functionality to locate, capture, battle, and train Pokémon. These virtual creatures appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. And, according to a Survey Monkey poll, Pokémon Go boasts more than twenty-one million avid daily users worldwide. So naturally, Pokémon Go’s popularity has advertisers looking for ways to leverage its appeal.

Leveraging the game

Players stage and train their Pokémon in actual physical locations called “gyms.” And the lucky retailers that have been designated as Pokémon gyms have enjoyed a significant uptick in foot traffic. McDonald’s Japan was the first advertiser to pay to transform some three thousand of its restaurants into gyms, and the game’s creator, Niantic Inc., plans to partner with businesses worldwide to designate locations as gyms or Pokéstops.

Pokémon Go is also a golden opportunity for product placements, brand association schemes, and sponsored in-game content. For example, some have advertised themselves as “Pokémon-friendly,” and offer discounts to visitors with the Pokémon Go app.

Many are promoting Pokémon Go-themed merchandise, upgrades, coupons, events, and activities, and, if your business is situated near a gym or Pokéstop, you can use the Lure module (an in-game purchase) to attract Pokémon and its followers to your location for thirty minutes.

But don’t throw out your carefully crafted marketing plan just yet. Media reports continue to highlight less desirable spin-offs of the game: injuries, invasion of privacy, and litter, to name a few. And the jury is still out on whether Pokémon has legs.


HOT BIZ TRENDS
Key Performance Indicators: Everything Old Is New Again
KPI

Long before “hashtags” and “followers” and “likes” (and long before “friend” was a verb), you measured success with key performance indicators (KPIs). These are defined as measurable ways of assessing a company’s performance on important business goals, and they’ve been part of the business lexicon for years.

But interestingly, in this age of quick-hit technologies, KPIs are bigger than ever. According to Peg Guinta in RISMedia, “Today more KPIs than ever are tracked.” Says Guinta, “Performance Measurement = Standard Practice.”

In Results.com, Stephen Lynch sums up the importance of KPIs. “Your KPIs establish the pulse of your organization and ultimately its success.” And there’s more. Writes Lynch, “The key question to ask yourself for every KPI you come up with is: How frequently do we need to view and discuss this number to make sure things are on track – or if it is off track, to take corrective action in a timely manner?”

The executives at Forbes Finance Council seem to agree. In a recent article, council members list eight important financial KPIs. According to council members, business owners need to track these “less visible metrics that can make or break their company.”

Of course, these days there’s software to simplify everything. An article in Business.com  includes fourteen tools to help businesses measure their indicators, based on speed, ease, cost, and more. These provide a good cross-section of user-friendly dashboards for virtually every business. Because, as many experts suggest, virtually every business should be tracking its KPIs.

Like it or not, it’s smart to follow your KPIs.


REAL ESTATE
Sky-High Dreams Hinge on Wood Construction
Developers see it as a way to achieve higher-density housing at lower cost. It may qualify for green building certification. And it uses prefabricated major building parts, saving on labor costs and cutting construction time virtually in half.

What is this miracle material?

It’s wood, modified by twenty-first-century technology and now taking center stage in a race to build the tallest wooden skyscraper in the world.

North America previously lagged behind Europe, where mass timber construction began to replace concrete block construction in single-family homes around 1990. But we’re up and running now.

The prize is not just bragging rights; tall wooden buildings may be the first major development in high-rise construction since steel and glass, and everyone wants a part of it.

In British Columbia, Canada, an eighteen-story wood construction student residence was completed in August 2016 and is due to open in mid-2017. Brock Common will be one of the world’s tallest buildings made mostly of wood, according to the University of British Columbia.

But perhaps not for long. A thirty-five-story wood building is planned in Paris. And in London, the Barbican Center addition is expected to top off at eighty stories.

While North American building codes still limit wood construction to a maximum of six stories, that’s changing. Respected Chicago architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP produced a report as long ago as 2013 that included construction techniques for building a forty-two-story wood building. And this year, the US Department of Agriculture and the lumber industry awarded prizes to two groups planning wooden skyscrapers: one, a ten-story condo to be built in Chelsea in Manhattan; the other, a twelve-story complex in Portland, Oregon.

Technological change

The continuing development of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels made this sky-high dream possible. The technique involves gluing and pressing the wood together in alternate directions to increase its strength and stability. Unlike regular wood, CLT panels can’t twist and don’t shrink. While fireproofing remains a concern, a technique of charring the wood’s surface is said to make it fire-resistant by protecting the structure underneath.

Vancouver architect Michael Green, who has already constructed tall wood buildings around the world, knows its strength. As he told CBC News: “These buildings have to perform to the same standards as steel and concrete, and we know they can.”

Because major building parts are prefabricated, installation is simplified, saving on labor costs and cutting construction time to half that of a regular project. The panels are also tighter fitting and therefore more energy efficient. And the use of trees means engineered wood products boast a lower carbon footprint; projects likely will qualify for green certification.

As Valerie Johnson, part owner of D.R. Johnson Wood Innovations in Oregon, recently told Bloomberg News: “We see a horizon that’s very promising out there.”

Small wonder. The company, one of very few in North America to be certified by the Engineered Wood Association to make CLT, has just expanded its laminating plant to accommodate CLT production.

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Worth Reading
What Could I Possibly Learn from a Mentor Half My Age? Plenty
By Phyllis Korkki
The New York Times

Mentoring turned backwards? Actually, author Korkki is just one of many older workers who have realized that millennials have skills to offer and are “on fleek” (nice) about sharing them. Turns out it wasn’t just about learning a new skill; Korkki’s “adventure” in what has been perceived as nontraditional multigenerational mentoring yielded so much more than she’d anticipated.

5 People We Wish Would Stop Using LinkedIn
By West McDonald

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the world’s best business networking tools. But then there are “those” people on LinkedIn. You know, the ones we wish would stop clogging our feeds. McDonald identifies a few archetypes, including the haters, the narcissists, the opportunists, the hangers-on, and other assorted irritating people. Which one drives you “bonkers?”.

How Writing To-Do Lists Helps Your Brain (Whether or Not You Finish Them)
By Art Markman

Fastcompany.com

There are three important benefits to the actual act of putting together a to-do list. These turn out to be way more important than the to-do list itself. And even more important than finishing it. Best of all, we discover that the simple act of coming up with a to-do list can actually help our brains remember the list, even when we’re not looking at it.


LINKS YOU CAN USE
This Month: Proper Customer Care
Proper customer care is the lifeblood of your business. From essential training to effective marketing, the right approaches are key to customer service success. And, of course, don’t neglect your social media presence.

Here are some best practices from savvy marketers:

Do you want to improve customer relationships? The key is to improve your staff’s customer service skills. Here’s how:
6 Keys Improving Team’s Customer Service Skills

Take a goal-focused approach to customer service and put on your marketing hat when considering your customer service strategy.
3 Easy Tips To Strengthen Customer Care Beginning Today

Did you know 42% of customers use social media to complain? Don’t fall into the trap shown here in the British Airways example. Get it right, now. Before you have a problem.
How To Improve Customer Support On Social Media

This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.
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