Also: Cash-flow planning for contractors; Portfolio Manager back online
Brookfield Homes President John Ryan Jr. was awarded the highest honor in the homebuilding industry with his induction to the Hall of Fame.
Mr. Ryan, who grew up in Santa Rosa, was nominated and selected by a group of previous Hall of Fame inductees representing all aspects of the homebuilding industry, who recognized him for his career, industry leadership and volunteerism.
In a homebuilding career spanning almost three decades, Mr. Ryan worked for KB Homes in Northern and Southern California and in Paris before starting the Bay Area operation of Brookfield Homes. In his capacity as president, Mr. Ryan directs the activities of land entitlement and homebuilding for master planned communities and neighborhood creation throughout the greater Bay Area.
“It is extremely rewarding to enrich the lives of so many others by creating outstanding homes and communities,” he said. “I am truly honored to follow in the footsteps of so many inspirational building industry leaders.”
Mr. Ryan’s next big project for Brookfield is the University Park master planned community in Rohnert Park. This 1,400-home community hopes to offer distinctive architecture, walkable neighborhoods and appealing community amenities.
“It will be a pleasure to be building in the area where I grew up,” said Mr. Ryan. “I have so many great memories of living in the North Bay Area, and I’m excited to create a new neighborhood where people can raise their families.”
Mr. Ryan, a graduate of St. Mary’s College in Moraga, serves on the board of its School of Economics and Business Administration. He also serves on the board of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. He is an active member of the executive board of HomeAid of Northern California, a non-profit organization whose mission to build and maintain dignified housing in which homeless families and individuals can rebuild their lives.
The business environment for North Bay contractors has improved from the dearth of work two to three years ago, but not having as many projects continues to bring multiple bidders on public works and increasingly more commercial projects, and that is keeping profit margins small, according to Buddy Wall, a tax partner for Moss Adams.
Mr. Wall is advising clients that having enough resources stashed away is critical for long-term viability. But he said having too much in cash or not enough available from investments to work on projects when they move forward can put a contractor at a disadvantage.
Common tactics among contractors for maintaining cash flow for capital and workforce needs yet building reserves are lines of credit and layered-maturity certificates of deposit from a number of institutions, but those tactics can lead to a “Winchester Mystery House of investments” and might miss out on incremental yet substantial returns, according to John Whiting, principal of Moss Adams Wealth Advisors.
“Things are pretty lean, so efficiency across the board is important so builders can eke out additional return or reduce expense,” Mr. Whiting said.
Working with an adviser who can develop an investment policy statement that identifies investment vehicles for short-, medium- and long-term cash needs helps reap those returns, he said. For example, for maturities in a two- to five-year time frame, a portfolio of certain municipal bonds and investment-grade fixed corporate income instruments could be considered. For cash to be tapped five years out, AA- or AAA-rated instruments might fit the bill.
“A half- or even a quarter-percentage more return could be $30,000 to $100,000 extra return for large cash reserves,” Mr. Whiting said.
Scraping together much return at all in a historic period of low interest rates makes this kind of planning challenging but rewarding, according to Mr. Whiting.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s Energy Star Portfolio Manager, web-based software is used to track energy and water consumption for commercial, institutional and multifamily residential buildings, did go back online as scheduled on July 18. [See "New Energy Portfolio Manager promises easy-click use," July 15.]
The software went offline June 26 for major upgrades, including faster data processing, more easy-to-use interface and improved options for exchange of data from public utilities and people responsible for certain properties.
A number of city and state governments use Portfolio Manager ratings for laws requiring disclosure of energy-efficiency data on properties before real estate transactions. California’s new law for nonresidential buildings was set to take effect July 1, but enforcement recently was pushed back to Sept. 1 because of the scheduled software upgrade.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Janet McCabe, principal deputy assistant administrator for the federal Office of Air and Radiation. “The new ‘turbo-charged’ Portfolio Manager makes it easier than ever for building owners and managers to make strategic business decisions that are good for the environment and good for the bottom line. Consistent with President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, this tool helps businesses cut wasted energy, reduce harmful carbon pollution, and save money.”
The tool will continue to deliver the nearly 150 energy, greenhouse gas and water-performance metrics that owners and managers of commercial buildings use to make strategic management decisions.
One of these metrics — the 1–100 Energy Star score — rates a building’s energy efficiency against similar buildings nationwide. A score of 50 represents median energy performance, whereas a score of 75 signifies that a building outperforms 75 percent of its peers. Buildings in the United States that score a 75 or higher, and have their data verified by a Professional Engineer or Registered Architect, are eligible to earn EPA’s Energy Star certification.
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