A Colorado company specializing in special events audio, video, and lighting is embarking on a project that will see the installation of LED lighting, a new solar photovoltaic system, and roof upgrades in its Arvada-based office.
In a statement, Matt Emerson, the president of CEAVCO, said the new energy-focused upgrades have been a long time coming.
“We’ve been in business for more than 50 years, and while we’re primarily focused on making our clients look good, we knew the time had come to take care of some in-house maintenance issues,” said Emerson.
The upgrading to the company’s nearly 34,000 square foot facility, continued Emerson, will have the end result of making CEAVCO’s location “more comfortable for our employees and tenants,” while lowering the company’s energy costs and reducing its carbon footprint.
The project has come about as a result of an innovative effort called the Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program, otherwise known as C-PACE.
“We’re really a financing mechanism for everything from renewable energy projects to water improvements and new heating and cooling systems,” says Tracy Phillips, the director of the C-PACE program.
Launched in early 2016, C-PACE makes it possible to finance energy efficiency and water conservation projects, among other things, undertaken by the owners of commercial and industrial buildings throughout the Centennial State.
“There are two sides to it,” explains Phillips.
“One is the Colorado Energy Office, which is the sponsoring agency and the ones who got the legislation passed, allowing them to develop the program,” he says.
The second side comes with the existence of a company called Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, which is based in Trumbull, Connecticut and partners with state and local governments nationally to administer private commercial property clean energy programs.
“We’re the program administrators,” explains Phillips, “which means that we handle all the promotion and marketing and training, as well as getting projects put together, quality assurance, and all that kind of thing.”
Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, spearheading more than $130 million of energy upgrade efforts nationally, additionally has programs similar to the one it is administering in Colorado in California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Utah, and Virginia.
Its services are not available to just the owners of buildings, but also contractors, mortgage holders, and capital providers.
There are obviously, admits Phillips, many pieces to any given C-PACE project.
“But we try to not make it seem too complicated,” he remarks. “At the end of the day you need to get the building owner on board first, and then of course the contractors who are doing the work, and then, because it’s an assessment on the property, a mortgage lender.”
“And then there’s the financing piece, getting the actual capital provider to provide the financing,” Phillips continues.
The Colorado program, which to date has taken on some two dozen projects in the state with a financing value of $21 million, has proven to be remarkably active. Almost every week comes news of a new energy upgrade project coordinated by C-PACE.
In late June came the announcement that the Lafayette-based CSI Construction was investing in energy efficiency upgrades at two of its properties in the 2100 block of South Blackhawk Street.
Those improvements included the installation of LED lighting in both tenant and common spaces. This $113,000 project was designed and implemented by Next Step Energy Solutions, which has offices in Littleton, and funded through Greenworks Lending, a provider of commercial financing for Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy projects nationally.
Earlier this month, Unique Woodworking took on a series of energy upgrades at its nearly 76,000 square foot facility at 4101 E. 48th Avenue in Denver that were made possible through the C-PACE program.
Those upgrades for a company known for its high-quality cabinetry and architectural millwork, included an upgraded electrical system, insulated garage doors, and LED lighting.
The owner of Unique Woodworking, Bret Kaup, in a C-PACE press release, noting that his company regularly invests in state-of-the-art machinery and software, said he was particularly pleased to be lowering greenhouse gas emissions while also “enjoying positive cash flows to our business through the resulting energy savings.”
Additional good news was seen in the mid-August announcement that the Denver-based Lever Energy Capital is launching a $500 million fund dedicated to funding C-PACE programs.
Meanwhile, Phillips lauds the priorities of the Colorado Energy Office for its sponsorship of the C-PACE program, noting, “They are very open when new technologies and new ideas come along; they entertain a lot of different ways to use this financing.”
But he also acknowledges that the C-PACE office itself is doing what it can to get the word of its services out to Colorado’s commercial and industrial sectors: “We are trying to be fairly aggressive in terms of getting this established as a tool,” Phillips says, “because the potential is fairly unlimited.”
The Santa Monica, California-based TaskUs has announced plans to open a new location in Albuquerque inside the six-story First Plaza office complex at 200 Third Street NW.
Plans call for the company, which was launched in 2008 as a virtual personal assistance company, to spend upwards of $9 million upgrading a 50,500 square foot space in the nearly 50 year-old structure.
As part of the effort to secure the TaskUs project, the New Mexico Economic Development Department is providing up to $2 million in Local Economic Development Act funding.
Members of the Albuquerque City Council are expected to vote next month on approving an additional $1 million in LEDA funding.
In a statement, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said a number of parties came together to “ensure that TaskUs has what they need to succeed while also giving Downtown the shot in the arm it needs.
With more than 12,000 employees worldwide, TaskUS provides customer service for tech start ups, offering call center operations that revolve around answering questions and solving a variety of technical and communications issues for clients.
In an article exploring the company’s swift growth, the Los Angeles Times headlined: “TaskUS Thrives on Complaints.”
The company won an investment round earlier this month of $250 million from the private equity firm Blackstone Group.
The TaskUS operation in Albuquerque is expected to bring nearly 700 new jobs to the city.
Work on the First Plaza space is expected to begin later this year and will see the creation of an employee gym, market, and lounge and recreation area.
By Garry Boulard
A new survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America indicates that construction companies across the country are continuing to have a hard time hiring new craft workers.
According to a survey of more than 2,500 member companies and businesses, an overwhelming 80 percent said the hiring of craft workers remains a challenging issue.
“Labor shortages in the construction industry remain significant and widespread,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist, adding that “the best way to encourage continued economic growth, make it easier to rebuild aging infrastructure, and place more young adults into high-paying careers, is to address construction workforce shortages.”
The shortage is being seen in all regions of the country, according to the AGC survey, with 81 percent of contractors in the South and West saying the hiring of qualified craft workers remains a challenge, followed by 80 percent in the Midwest.
The lowest percentage, marginally so, was seen in the response of contractors in the Northeast at 77 percent.
To make things more complicated for the industry, this particular labor shortage comes at a time of unprecedented construction project expansion with 281 out of 358 metro areas reporting increased activity between July of 2017 and last July.
As a result of the demand and tight market, roughly 62 percent of the firms surveyed said they were increasing base pay rates for craft workers, while 25 percent have improved employee benefits.
Another 25 percent said they are increasingly using bonuses and incentives to attract craft workers.
In the category of anticipating where the market for craft workers is headed, 48 percent of the respondents to the AGC survey said they thought it would be harder to hire such workers in the foreseeable future, while only 1 percent said it would be easier.
By Garry Boulard
A decision by the Colorado Supreme Court to not hear a petition challenging a school district bond election means that planning for the projects to be funded by the bond, as well as their construction, can move forward.
The state’s highest court ruling is another defeat for community activist Eric Sutherland who has challenged a 2016 general obligation bond election in the Poudre School District.
Sutherland has contended that in its ballot language the school district did not fully disclose how the proposed $375 million bond would be spent.
In response, Poudre School District officials have held off doing any work on the proposed projects until Sutherland’s petition ran its course.
Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the district has announced that it will issue the general obligations bonds as soon as possible to fund several projects, including the building of one new school, and the expansion of another.
“We are pleased to have this matter resolved and to move forward with building the schools our community needs,” Superintendent Sandra Smyser said in a statement after the latest court decision.
Although up to $40 million is expected to be spent on general upgrades to all of the district’s schools, one of the biggest projects will see the building of a new elementary school designed to accommodate up to 600 students on the southeast side of Fort Collins.
That structure, currently called the Southeast Elementary School, will go up near the intersection of Larimer County Road 30 and Larimer County Road 5.
The current Zach Elementary School at 3715 Kechter Road is scheduled to see the building of two additional classrooms, as well as the expansion of an existing cafeteria.
A document issued by the district called the Long Range Planning Update says that design work on the Zach school will begin this fall, with construction set for next spring.
Design work on the Southeast Elementary School will most likely begin either later this year or in early 2019, with a planned completion date of fall 2021.
By Garry Boulard
Construction is expected to begin early next year on a new Pima Community College educational building that will go up in downtown Tucson.
What is being called the Center of Excellence in Applied Training will be built on a 2.9-acre site at 333 W. Drachman on the northwest side of the main PCC campus.
That address has been the home to the Fortuna Inn and Suites for over 40 years.
PCC purchased the property last year in a part of town that is made up mostly of newer retail and office structures.
The 72,000 square foot hotel has now been demolished, with plans that work could begin on the new PCC facility in January or February.
That facility, upon completion, will house diesel and automotive technology labs, manufacturing space, and a robotics lab.
In a statement, PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert said the new center will support the school’s mission of “increasing educational attainment in our community and helping our young people thrive in an economy that is fueled by technology and connected globally.”
By Garry Boulard
U.S. and Mexico trade representatives have reached a consensus on revamping the historic North American Free Trade Agreement.
That consensus was reached without the participation of Canada, the other NAFTA partner.
Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said that he would prefer a trilateral deal, hoping that Canada will eventually return to talks with the U.S. and Mexico.
Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, after meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said her office will “stand up for the Canadian national interest and for Canadian values, while looking for areas where we can find a compromise.”
U. S trade representatives are expected to officially notify Congress that an updated agreement between the U.S. and Mexico has been reached.
Once that notification has been made, there will be a 90-day period during which the representatives of both the U.S. and Mexico will be required to officially sign the new deal.
What the new agreement will be called remains unknown. President Trump, who frequently criticized NAFTA during his 2016 presidential campaign, said the name “NAFTA” would most likely be discarded because it has negative connotations.
The President’s suggested new name: the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement.
One aspect of the new agreement is seeing Mexico guaranteeing that automotive content manufacturing will be increased in the U.S. in a move that will spur greater auto production in America.
Since its inception, NAFTA has covered a wide variety of building materials and equipment, with materials from the U.S. going to the other two countries equaling $39 billion in 2017; and imports above the $43 billion mark last year.
The new preliminary trade agreement will not, for the present, do away with the existing U.S. tariffs on Mexican exports of steel and aluminum.
Altogether, at least 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go to the U.S.
The two countries also agreed that the new agreement would be up for review every six years, although the agreement itself has a 16-year life.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are in the talking stage for the construction of a new K-12 school in Grand Junction, Colorado that would be go up on a currently vacant and mostly wooded 28-acre site.
The facility would be a part of the Juniper Ridge Community Schools and could include the construction of several other buildings on a proposed campus located north of Patterson Road between 7th and 1st streets.
The site was purchased last year by the school.
Although school officials have said they would like to see several structures built at the site, members of the Board of Education of District 51 have raised questions over the proposal, saying it would be easier to secure just one building with a single entry point.
The matter is expected to be revisited by the board early next month. The hope has been that if the project ultimately wins board approval, construction could begin later this year or early next year with a fall 2019 completion date.
The Juniper Ridge Community School was opened in the fall of 2013 with 134 students. Enrollment at the school has since more than doubled and is now just short of 300.
The school focuses on the education plan developed by educational theorist Rudolph Steiner more than a century ago that puts an emphasis on imagination in learning, hands-on activities, and critical reasoning.
It is one of more than one thousand such schools globally.
By Garry Boulard
The City of El Paso is hoping to secure funding for the design of an innovative potable reuse facility that could process up to 10 million gallons a day.
Planning for the project comes on the heels of a potable reuse system project, otherwise known as a closed-loop water system, that was operated in the city on an experimental basis for nearly a year in 2016.
It is thought that such a system, which reclaims sewerage water for use as water for drinking and other purposes, could easily process some 10 million gallons a day.
As proposed, the project has already received permit approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Officials with El Paso Water, the city’s water utility, who have said that such a process could be up and running within the decade, and have also estimated that it would likely cost more than $100 million to build a water purification facility.
Efforts to secure federal funding for the facility’s construction are currently underway.
By Garry Boulard
The Department of Energy has released a new report indicating that the previously growing U.S. wind power industry is continuing to grow, with 41 states currently operating utility-scale projects.
The report, 2017 Wind Technologies Market Report, looks at wind market construction and operation trends recorded last year and uses those trends to predict the industry’s immediate future.
Prepared by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a DOE Office of Science Lab, the report notes that new installations accounted for more than 7,000 megawatts of capacity last year.
As of the end of last year, wind energy made up 6.3 percent of the nation’s total electric supply, comprising upwards of 30 percent of the supply in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Texas, meanwhile led the nation in 2017 with more than 22 gigawatts of wind capacity.
The DOE report adds than more than $11 billion was invested in new wind plants last year, with the average wind project offering twice as much capacity as projects built roughly two decades ago.
A separate report released by WiseGuyReports.com tracks a healthy market for wind power generation nationally.
The report, entitled 2018-2025 Wind Turbine Pitch Systems Market Global Key Player, Demand, Growth, Opportunities and Analysis Forecast, emphasizes the importance of a reliable wind turbine pitch control system in the market advancement of the industry.
Such pitch control systems mean that roto blades in a wind power generation systems adjust output power by responding to wind speeds.
The control system also protects the rotor blades, providing a given facility with a greater utilization of wind power efficiency.
The study notes that while the market for wind turbines with pitch control systems has remained steady in the last four years, it is nevertheless expected to grow from $1.5 billion in 2017 to nearly $1.8 billion by 2025.
By Garry Boulard
In an attempt to anticipate the transit, recreational, and housing needs of a dramatically growing city two decades from now, the City of Denver has launched a planning effort with a decided emphasis on public input.
What is being called “Denveright” is a program partly designed to lay out new transit routes and options in what could prove to be almost every neighborhood in the Mile High City.
What is really a bundle of five different plans, Denveright is also addressing zoning and building design issues and basic street infrastructure.
Each part of the overall plan, say city officials, is intended to address the demands of a population that is expected to be nearing the 900,000 mark in the next twenty years, up from its current 704,000.
A crucial part of the plan’s transit component would require the City of Denver to play a larger policy, administrative, and financial role in a system that is operated by the larger metro Regional Transportation District.
The recreational segment of the plan is promoting the idea that by 2040 every neighborhood in the city could have access to a park.
And in a move to encourage walking, a part of the plan will mandate that gaps in the city’s current sidewalk network will be filled.
Next to the many complex issues regarding what will be the final priorities for the Denveright effort is its financing: it is thought that an expansion of the city’s transit system and parks could cost well over $1 billion.
How that funding would be obtained and what sources it might come from are questions that remain to be answered.
In an interview with the website Denverite, Mayor Michael Hancock said of the plan: “We don’t know to what level we will accomplish our forecasted numbers. Our responsibility is to plan for the future.”
The public comment period for the Denveright proposal is scheduled to last until October 31.
By Garry Boulard
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