Industry Insider

Nissan Energy Solar

nissan energy solar

Some believe that solar panels require direct sunlight to work. Those same people may believe that the UK is the world’s most unsuitable place to harness the sun’s energy. Well, they are wrong. More than 880,000 people in the UK use solar panels and Nissan has taken note.  

nissan energy solar

Image via Nissan Energy Solar

In mid-March, the car manufacturer joined the ranks of Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Tesla and launched their take on a complete home energy management system, which they named Nissan Energy Solar. For now, only UK residents can try it in their households.  

This idea of utilizing the most valuable part of its electric vehicles—the batteries—after they’ve lived their first life in one of the vehicles (or have been declared terminated post some accident) is new and golden. Nissan is making a bullish push into the energy storage industry, and it does it on three fronts at once: using homes as powerhouses; off-grid power storage; electricity generator park.  

The storage system Nissan proposes, the xStorage, is the result of a collaboration with Eaton Industries. The xStorage can have three power options: 3.6 kilowatts, 4.6 kW or 6kW. There are two battery options, 4.2 kW or 6kW. The average unit weighs nearly 300 pounds (135 kg).  

Benefits of the system include: 

  • Increased independence from the national grid and electricity providers 
  • Cost reduction on your electricity bill of up to 66 percent 
  • The ability to generate, store and manage energy for use overnight (despite cloudy weather) and charge Nissan electric vehicles. 

A six-panel system costs about $5,383 including installation. Full solar and storage systems start at roughly $10,589. This solar plus electric vehicles is clearly a match made in heaven. According to CleanTechnica, about 32 percent of the electric driving respondents have also installed rooftop solar power.

In addition, this type of solar scheme has real the power to improve life anywhere else in the world. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 29 percent of greenhouse gases came from transportation in 2016, and 28 percent from electricity.  

Admissions Automation

With senior housing occupancy at its lowest level since 2010, attracting new residents to your community can be challenging. Staff must work harder than ever to get prospects into the pipeline—but getting seniors in the door is just the first step for your sales team. They call it the sales process for good reason. Moving senior living prospects through the funnel and closing the deal requires, on average, 25 contacts—calls, emails, appointments, tours—over the course of two years. Conversion is a marathon, not a sprint. And as many salespeople will tell you: a lot can happen during those weeks and months leading up to a signed lease. Prospects can change their minds, become frustrated or disinterested, or find another community or course of care, among other things.

How can sales teams mitigate prospect fallout and increase conversion? Shorten and simplify the sales cycle. One way to do that is using automation to reduce paperwork and streamline the closing process. Because when so much effort goes into the pipeline, dealing with fall through in the final stages is not only heartbreaking, but also costly to the business. That’s why 68% of best-in-class sales teams have made the switch to electronic signatures to improve the customer experience and close deals faster. In fact, companies who use automation tools like e-signatures during the admissions process are 18% more likely to shorten their sales cycles.

According to an IDC white paper on bridging the document disconnect in sales, there are plenty of opportunities for companies to impact their sales process by going paperless. Here are a few ways automation in the sales process can benefit your business:

  1. Increase staff efficiency

Salespeople spend more than 36% of their time on administrative tasks—and less than two thirds of their time on their core job function: completing the sale. If that’s not concerning enough, consider that 43% of office staff say they need to use several disconnected systems and often have to copy and paste or rekey information, an error-prone and time-consuming process. Employing automation, like templatized electronic leases and e-signatures, during the sales cycle not only takes the guesswork out of document generation, it eliminates the frustrating use of disparate systems that draws out the closing process.

  1. Build prospect rapport

The typical senior living community receives 31 new inquiries per month. That’s a lot of prospects to keep track of week-over-week, all year long. Fostering a positive relationship with a would-be resident is critical to winning their business. Automating the capture of information as a step in the sales cycle not only ensures that personal details are collected, it guarantees they’re retained and visible to the entire sales team.

  1. Reduce errors

We love office supplies as much as the next person, but those little “sign here” sticky arrows aren’t doing your community any favors. Consider that 36% of sales leaders say agreements are missing signatures or dates—or have been signed by the wrong person altogether—and another 51% say that documents are often misfiled or lost. Systematized residency agreements and e-signatures, like those found in Yardi Senior CRM, eliminate paperwork and reduce the disorganization and disarray that come along with paper records, curtailing costly mistakes and missed opportunities.

  1. Optimize customer experience

40% of front office staff say the documents they send to prospects don’t always display or print correctly, and 38% say recipients sometimes can’t even open them. Imagine a lengthy sales process involving emails and call follow-up, meetings and tours, family visits and stacks of paperwork—and all that’s left between you and closing the deal is a required signature on the lease. You’ve completed the document, crossed all the t’s and dotted the i’s, and sent it to the prospect to print and sign, only to find out that the images won’t render, and the lease cannot be inked. A deal that was all but done is now in limbo, and you’ve left your prospective resident with a bad taste in their mouth. Moving to e-signatures makes it easier for the customer to sign on the dotted line. A smooth process yields happier residents and a quicker path to realizing revenue for a rented unit.

Learn more about how to streamline your sales process with Yardi Senior CRM.

SEE International

For 44 years, Santa Barbara-based Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International has been providing restorative eyesight care around the globe.

The non-profit organization, founded by local ophthalmologists in 1974, relies on volunteers, grants and donors to make its important work of reducing preventable blindness possible. And as it heads toward 50 years, SEE is endeavoring to treat more patients than ever before.

“There are 36 million people in the world who are blind, up to 75 percent of those are blind from preventable conditions,” said Matt Wheeler, vice president of communications for SEE. “One of the major problems is that 80 percent of these people are living in areas of the world where access to care is not available.” Cataracts, one of the leading causes of blindness, can often easily be treated – but patients must have access to qualified ophthalmologists who can perform a simple surgery.

Partnering with local ophthalmologists in every region where they work, SEE volunteers made 250 trips to over 40 countries this year, and performed 40,000 sight restoring surgeries. Volunteer doctors pay for all of their own travel and housing expenses and receive no pay for their work.

By 2020, SEE aims to perform 100,000 surgeries a year. In the course of the organization’s existence, volunteers have conducted 4 million eye exams and performed a half million surgeries. Other work includes training regional doctors on cataract surgery techniques, providing supplies for clinics that don’t have access to proper materials, and conducting preventative eye exams in impoverished areas.

In assessing the support it has received from corporate sponsors over the years, SEE staff realized that one Santa Barbara-based company was unique in terms of longevity and generosity of support – and happened to be a close neighbor, too.

“Our leadership was reviewing the companies that had given to us consistently over the years, and Yardi really stood out,” said Hannah Hultgren, corporate relations coordinator for SEE. “We felt there should be recognition of a company like Yardi that has given so much locally and to the community at large.” Yardi has been a philanthropic supporter of SEE for the last two decades.

Left to right: Kate Perlis McKinniss of TrackR, Sally Parks and Kelly Johnson of Yardi.

As a result, Yardi was awarded the first ever SEE Community Philanthropist Award at a ceremony last month. Vice president of human resources Sally Parks and culture and philanthropic coordinator Kelly Johnson were on hand to accept the award on the company’s behalf (pictured).

Hultgren noted that a major portion of the Yardi funding has supported sight restoration efforts in Bhavnagar, India, not far from Yardi’s Pune office. Over 1,000 patients have been treated at a clinic in Bhavnagar thanks to Yardi’s donations.

SEE’s work is one of many philanthropic projects that Yardi has in India. Others include Vasti Vikas Prakalp, which offers funding support to numerous regional NGOs and helps bring hope to some of India’s most underserved neighborhoods.

“Entire communities are transformed because there are people like you who help create a culture of philanthropy. SEE has been profoundly grateful to be one among many humanitarian organizations Yardi has generously supported,” Hultgren said.

Learn more about See International and its global projects, including where you can lend a hand, here: seeintl.org

Yard is Energized for Good! Learn more about the company’s philanthropic and volunteer efforts around the U.S. and the world here.

14 Things Your Reserve Analysts Might Not Tell You – And It’s Not Their Fault (Part 3)

Two weeks ago,, we shared five focus points to help you analyze property components. Last week, we offered another five, which were practical considerations to discuss with your reserve analysts in order to estimate project expenses as accurately as possible. To recap, we’ve covered:    Read the article………………

HIGH ENERGY GATHERING

The recent International Facility Management Assn. World Workplace 2018 (IFMA WW18) attracted about 4,000 real estate professionals to Charlotte, N.C., to learn about managing properties more efficiently and improving building occupants’ experience. World Workplace is the world’s largest series of facility management conferences and expositions.

Yardi was a sponsor, exhibitor, and session leader at World Workplace this year. Regional director of Yardi Energy, Annette Durnack delivered a presentation titled, “The Future Is Now: Increase Your Contribution by Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Buildings and Beyond,” which focused on AI’s ability to optimize building operations for maximum efficiency and comfort. The presentation sparked a lively Q&A exchange with the full-house audience, with many audience members seeking details on uniting multiple building automation systems to decrease maintenance and repair costs.

Educational sessions at IFMA WW2018 covered topics such as sustainability, emergency preparedness, building occupant engagement, and more. “A principal theme among those at the conference was the realization that, now more than ever, knowledge is power. I was pleased to demonstrate that solutions such as Yardi Pulse provide an unprecedented degree of intelligence for facilities management,” said IFMA WW18 attendee Christy Cannon, an account executive for Yardi Energy.

Brennan McReynolds of CBRE, a Yardi client, presented the firm’s new mobile app, called “360,” that combines features that employees use in their personal lives and the workplace. The app features interactive floor maps, location tracking within buildings, food ordering, meeting room reservations, and more.  The 360 app expands the wide adoption of GPS services, automated reminders, mobile food delivery, and smart scheduling tools used in personal lives to the workplace, with a few helpful additions.

Another speaker, Dr. Gabor Nagy of Haworth, which specializes in optimizing the efficiency of a building’s occupants, continued the focus on building occupants. Nagy discussed the evolution of workplace collaboration, noting that companies are becoming increasingly focused on bolstering group collaboration. Some employers have reduced the physical boundaries between employees to foster collaborative work. According to Nagy, individual participation can be further encouraged by providing calm spaces away from the workstation where employees can engage in “focus work.” Reducing the physical barriers between employees is one step in creating a collaborative environment, Nagy said, but it is equally important to focus on the elements that make individuals want to share their ideas in the first place.

Read about Yardi’s views of AI and its increasing role in the property management industry as discussed at the recent IREM Global Summit 2018. Learn how the Yardi Smart Energy Suite can help property managers reduce energy consumption, improve occupant comfort and meet sustainability initiatives.

40 Sustainable Cities

Nearly four decades after President Carter adventurously installed solar panels on the White House, America’s energy transition away from fossil fuels has seen only modest progress. 2007 marked the first year in history when more than half of the world’s population lived in cities, and the U.N. estimated that, by 2030, urban settings will be home to nearly two thirds of the global population. However, it was just in March 2017 that monthly electricity generation from wind and solar exceeded 10% of total U.S. electricity generation for the first time.

As America’s vibrant cities grow at an unprecedented pace, so does the importance of sustainable urban planning, power generation, transport systems, water and sanitation, and waste management. We set out to gauge how U.S. cities fare in terms of sustainability, and how the commercial real estate industry has embraced green building to support these efforts. We ended up with a ranking of 40 ‘sustainably powered’ U.S. cities. Read on to see how we did it and what the results show.

Methodology: Our Scores, Explained

For the purpose of this study, we looked at data on U.S. cities with a 100,000 population minimum, and present the 40 that achieved top scores: Arlington, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Md.; Boston, Mass.; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago, Il.; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Detroit, Mich.; Durham, N.C.; Eugene, Ore.; Hayward, Calif.; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Lakewood, Colo.; Lancaster, PA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Reno, NV; Richmond, VA; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Savannah, GA; Seattle, WA; St. Louis, MO; Tucson, AZ; Washington, D.C.; Yonkers, NY.

The starting point of our research was to learn how each of the 40 cities draws its power. We turned to the Carbon Disclosure Project for details on every municipality’s mix of energy sources (biomass, coal, gas, geothermal, hydro, nuclear, oil, solar, wind), as well as for information on carbon emissions generated by activity in each region. Because no data was available in CDP for Tucson and Dallas, we complemented the set with information sourced from the U.S. Energy Information Administration Electricity Data Browser, and Texas Electricity Ratings, respectively.

Depending on the indicator, the points were awarded either directly or inversely proportional to the use of each energy source. Directly proportional points (the more use of the resource, the higher the score) between 0 and 5 were attributed for use of hydropower (harnessing the energy of falling water or fast running water), geothermal (thermal power generation, where the heat source is the Earth’s internal heat), solar (direct or indirect conversion of energy from sunlight to electricity), wind (mechanical conversion of the energy of wind into electricity), and biomass (generating energy by burning wood and other organic matter). Between 0 and 5 points were awarded inversely proportionally (the less, the better) for energy generation by use of coal, oil, gas, and nuclear thermal power plants. Similarly, we scored each city inversely proportional to its CO2 emissions, between 0 and 30 points. “Other” represents the “Unknown sources,” as categorized in the CDP database, an indicator for which we awarded inversely proportional scores of between 0 and 5 points.

As cities grow, transportation needs increase along with resource use. With the help of ChargeHub.com, we were able to factor in how many EV charging stations are available in each of the regions analyzed, and we gave directly proportional scores of between 0 and 10 points for this indicator. But not all transport options require fuel—we also looked at commuter statistics regarding Americans who ride their bike or walk to work and back, and awarded directly proportional points, between 0 and 5, according to each of these two indicators, for each city. Every year, the League of American Bicyclists compiles a comprehensive report of bike-rider data, and so we turned to their analysis for numbers on bicycle commuters in the U.S. For data on walking commuters, we looked to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. We awarded bonus points (between 0 and 10, directly proportional) according to each city’s scorecard, as evaluated by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy—the ACEEE ranks U.S. cities on their energy efficiency policies and program efforts.

See the rankings and read the rest of this article on the COMMERCIALCafe blog.

Reinventing Aluminum

Sustainable aluminum

Two of the world’s aluminum giants—Alcoa Corp. and Rio Tinto Aluminum—have announced a revolutionary process to make green aluminum, and we’re not talking colors here. Instead, the joint venture has come up with a new smelting method that produces oxygen instead of direct greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable aluminum

The project is called Elysis—a reference to the process at the center of aluminum smelting, the electrolysis of alumina. It will be based in Montreal and plans to make this revolutionary method commercially available by 2024. Aside from the environment friendly feature,, the technology is also expected to reduce costs by roughly 15 percent.

Apple has partnered with the two companies, and the Governments of Canada and Quebec, to collectively invest a combined $147 million to future research and development. The research and development phase of the technology has spanned decades. Apple joined in 2015 when three of its engineers—Brian Lynch, Jim Yurko and Katie Sassaman—went in search of a cleaner, better way of mass producing aluminum.

Aluminum, also known as solid electricity, has been mass produced the same way since 1886, having Alcoa’s founder, Charles Hall as a trail blazer. A strong electrical current is applied to alumina (refined from bauxite) which removes oxygen. In Hall’s experiments as in today’s largest smelters, there is a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases.

The new method replaces that carbon with an advanced conducive material. Instead of carbon dioxide, it releases oxygen. This major discovery promised a huge environmental impact.

To speed things up, Alcoa realized they needed a partner. Here Apple played a big role: David Tom, Maziar Brumand and Sean Camacho of Apple’s business development department introduced Rio Tinto to Alcoa.

What follows that meeting is history unfolding. The future looks greener thanks to Tinto’s strong worldwide presence and extensive experience in smelting technology development and international sales and commercialization combined with Alcoa’s long history in the field plus its patent-pending tech.

In the next phase, Rio Tinto will scale the technology to produce it in higher volumes. If fully developed and implemented, this new method could eliminate direct greenhouse gas emissions from the smelting process around the world.

“This is a revolutionary smelting process that can deliver a significant reduction in carbon emissions,” Rio executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in the company statement. “It builds on the key role aluminum has to play in driving human progress, by making products infinitely recyclable, stronger, lighter and more fuel efficient.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added, “Today’s announcement will create and maintain thousands of jobs for Canadians, significantly reduce Canada’s carbon footprint, and further strengthen the aluminium industry in North America. It is a truly historic day for the aluminum industry – and for all Canadian aluminum workers–who play such an important role in our economy and our country’s future.”

Eggers On Energy + AI

Technological advancements drive many of our most engaging industry-wide discussions. The recent Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) 2018 Global Summit, a networking and education conference for property and asset managers, gave Yardi a high-visibility forum to showcase the connection between artificial intelligence (AI) and energy management.

Matt Eggers

Matt Eggers, vice president of Yardi Energy, delivered a presentation titled “Artificial Intelligence: New Frontiers in Energy Management and Cost Reductions,” which sparked further discussion of the impact of AI. Read on to see our responses to some of the questions raised during the session.

What happens to the energy data that’s collected, and how does it advance the commercial real estate industry?

AI systems help identify a building’s most important performance characteristics and reveal what should be prioritized in terms of equipment and usage. The data collected “trains” AI systems to make better-informed, more sophisticated decisions that optimize a building’s energy performance and occupant comfort. The more data that’s collected, the more efficiently the energy management system (EMS) will perform, which in turn reduces carbon emissions. Increasing sustainability within our industry is among the top priorities of Yardi, and the energy data aids our research and helps us achieve that goal.

How can an AI-enabled EMS add revenue streams?

As renewable energy technology matures, implementation costs decrease. AI’s role in optimizing systems that draw from renewable energy sources matures as well. In 2016 alone, 19 gigawatts of new wind and solar energy capacity were installed in the U.S., according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the price per watt of solar energy has reduced by over 99% since the 1950s. This is good news for owners of buildings that generate their own energy because they have the opportunity to sell what they don’t use to local grids. An AI-enabled EMS decides the best way to allocate resources to minimize waste and maximize the sellable output.

What should property managers look for in engineers who manage this type of system?

The ideal building engineer is not only traditionally qualified, but enthusiastic about using advanced property management software systems for conservation, economic and environmental benefits. A good candidate would consider these advancements not as a threat to their role, but rather as an exciting progression in their work.

What checks and balances control an EMS?

A platform such as Yardi Pulse includes a team of energy managers that monitor the system’s performance. AI-enabled systems also notify the appropriate facilities employees when something out of the ordinary is detected. As a final limiting control, Pulse can easily be turned off remotely without interrupting any building management system (BMS) operations.

How does Yardi Pulse recover the cost of replacing a BMS or EMS?

Yardi Pulse works with the existing BMS or EMS system. You don’t necessarily need to replace the BMS to work with Pulse. We notify prospective clients when a building isn’t a good fit for our solutions and advise them on any required adjustments.

How can users of AI-enabled systems be sure their data is secure?

In general, systems from proven providers are quite secure, but there’s always the possibility of a breach. For example, computers that manage BMS or EMS systems can become outdated. Older computers often have obsolete firewalls and virus definitions that are vulnerable to attack. It is important to keep these computers updated. Isolating the network on which these computers operate to prevent access to company or tenant data in the event of a breach is another measure that increases security.

Yardi encourages best practices such as consolidating core property management and accounting along with ancillary products in one database. Our data centers around the world are protected by a series of firewalls and around-the-clock monitoring. About 98% of our clients make use of the secure, reliable Yardi Cloud. In September 2018, Yardi was named for the third time to the Forbes Cloud 100, the definitive list of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world.

What does the future of this technology look like in the context of property management?

In general, those who own, occupy, regulate, invest in and share community space with properties will increasingly turn to AI-enabled energy management systems to satisfy their needs. For our part, Yardi plans to add more Internet of Things capabilities that enable smart devices such as locks and thermostats to increase the value of properties and give more visibility to building management.

Eggers adds, “We’re grateful that the Global Summit provided the opportunity to interact with clients, peers and industry thought leaders about the technological developments that are becoming increasingly important to our industry.”

Learn about other elements of the Yardi Smart Energy Suite, which encompasses usage and cost monitoring, consumption alerts, emissions tracking and sustainability planning, automated utility billing and payment, budgeting support and more.

Piggyback Marketing

recycled content social media marketing

In a perfect world, you’d create all of your own content. It would all go viral. You’d burst with success. All the content creation would all be completed in less than an hour per week.

Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. You likely excel in real estate, not content creation. Time minimizes how much original content that you create. Sometimes you have difficulty getting readers to engage with your posts. Piggyback marketing may be able to help.recycled content social media marketing

Piggyback marketing describes the use of recycled, trending content on your social media feeds and blog. It allows users to borrow and benefit from the popularity of someone else’s content. Sometimes piggybacking is sharing a video, meme, or post. Other times, it’s referring to a trend within your original content.

There are advantages and disadvantages to piggyback marketing. When used wisely, it can build engagement and improve the reputation of your brand. When abused, it can erode trust and water-down your brand identity.

The dos and don’ts listed below will help you use viral piggybacking to your advantage.

  1. DO supplement your content with piggyback marketing.Viral piggybacking of relevant content allows you to tap into what’s already successful. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, which is great when you feel creator’s block or you’re pressed for time.
  2. DON’T rely on piggybacking. Limit how often you use others’ content to market your brand. Keep the percent of borrowed content in the single digits compared to your original content. There is no substitute for content that reflects your brand, your objectives, and the unique tastes of your audience.
  3. DO stick to content that is relevant to your brand, market, and clients’ interests. Use tools such as Buzzsumo and Scoop.It to identify relevant content. Those tools allow you to search by longtail keyword and then peruse search results to find just the right content.
  4. DO add your own captions and calls to action. Draw the connection between your brand, your purpose, and the content that you’ve borrowed. The viral clip of animals playing in the pool will benefit you more if you remind your audience that your property just upgraded the pool and that the pet policy welcomes them into the space. Use Facebook or Instagram buttons to encourage your audience to book a tour.
  5. DON’T ride every trend. You’re going to come across content that is hilarious or features one of your favorite celebrities. If there isn’t a natural connection, don’t force it. It’ll come across to your audience like you’re fishing for attention, which is a huge turnoff for savvy audiences.
  6. DO engage with your audience. When you content receives comments and questions, be sure to address them. Your professional and timely responsebuilds a relationship with your audience.
  7. DON’T get involved in a trend without a research. Trends—particularly hashtags–can have complex social implications. Before taking a hashtag at face value and integrating it into your content, be sure to do your research to avoid (or wisely enter) a hotbed of controversy.

For examples of piggyback marketing done right, check out this post on Can I Rank.

What is Percent Funded?

Do we have enough or too much money in our reserve fund account? This is a very common question board members and homeowners ask. In this article we will explain what percent funded level is and how to understand how it applies to reserve strength.  First, if you don’t already have a Reserve Study, you should have one. Click here for a sample Reserve Study with percent funded results.    Read the article………………