Twelve Reasons Why Globalization is a Huge Problem

Globalization seems to be looked on as an unmitigated “good” by economists. Unfortunately, economists seem to be guided by their badly flawed models; they miss  real-world problems. In …

Source: Twelve Reasons Why Globalization is a Huge Problem

SEC Rule Changes – Small Businesses Get Funding Cap Raise to $50 Million

Nearly three years after the law was signed, the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken an important step toward implementing the so-called JOBS Act, making it easier for small and mid-sized businesses to raise capital through small public offerings.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

>” […] Commissioners on Wednesday approved rule changes that allow companies to raise up to $50 million a year, up from a longstanding cap of $5 million, through what’s known as Regulation A offerings. Under Reg A offerings, as they’re commonly called, companies looking to raise relatively small amounts of money through a public offering are subject to a much simpler SEC registration process, putting fewer bureaucratic hoops between them and investors.

Until now, the Reg A path, which is nearly as old as the SEC itself, has been sparingly used. Congress voted to lift the cap as part of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which was signed into law in April 2012, largely to encourage more small and mid-sized companies to consider that option. […]

The finalization of the rules was the latest step in what has become an exceptionally long process to breathe life into the JOBS Act. Now on the cusp of its third birthday, only about half of the provisions in the statute – which, by providing better access to capital to new and growing businesses, was touted as a potentially powerful gust of wind in the economy’s sails – have been put in place by the SEC.

Among the most highly anticipated changes mandated by Congress but not yet implemented by the SEC are rules allowing companies to raise small amounts of money from mom-and-pop investors via what are known as online crowdfunding portals. Initially, the SEC was to give that process the green light by the end of 2013; however, the agency has been slow to move on the rule-making process. The SEC put forth proposed rules in October 2013, but it isn’t clear when they will be finalized.

While the crowdfunding rules, which are outlined in Title III of the JOBS Act, have drawn most of the JOBS Act’s spotlight, Paul explained that the Reg A changes (contained in Title IV of the legislation) will likely have a much more significant impact for certain companies.

“With Reg A, we’re talking about businesses that are going to be much further along in their life cycle than the ones that would benefit from Title III,” Paul said, noting that the online crowdfunding rules will limit entrepreneurs to raising no more than $1 million from non-accredited investors. “Obviously, a company raising $1 million is in a very different place than a company raising $40 million, or even $10 million.”

“It’s all part of a continuum,” Paul added. “While crowdfunding will be important for getting capital to genuine start-ups – ones that have three people working for them – this will help those that have 300 people working for them and are still looking to grow.” […]”<

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CloudSolar Helps Renewable Energy Fans Who Can’t Install Their Own Solar Panels

TechCrunch

Solar panels are becoming increasing affordable, but many people still face barriers to harnessing the power of the sun for their own homes. For example, they might live in an apartment or in a house where the roof is angled or structured improperly for solar panel installation.

A new Boston-based startup called CloudSolar is offering an intriguing solution. Founded by a team including two electrical engineering Ph.D. candidates and currently raising funds on Indiegogo, CloudSolar lets people buy a solar panel, or a share in one, on a farm that is expected to be completed by 2016 (erecting the solar panels will only take a couple of months, but the company also has to deal with utility and land permits, which will take longer).

Once the farm is up and operating, electricity generated by the solar panels will be sold to local utilities. Solar panel owners are promised 80 percent of…

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Leaked HSBC Files from Swiss Bank lead to Tax Evasion and Money Laundering charges

Data in massive cache of leaked secret bank account files lift lid on questionable practices at subsidiary of one of world’s biggest financial institutions

Source: www.theguardian.com

Video:  Guardian explains case against HSBC

>”[…]  The Guardian’s evidence of a pattern of misconduct at HSBC in Switzerland is supported by the outcome of recent court cases in the US and Europe. The bank was named in the US as a co-conspirator for handing over “bricks” of $100,000 a time to American surgeon Andrew Silva in Geneva, so that he could illegally post cash back to the US.

Another US client, Sanjay Sethi, pleaded guilty in 2013 to cheating the US tax authorities. He was one of a group of convicted HSBC clients. The prosecution said an HSBC banker promised “the undeclared account would allow [his] assets to grow tax-free, and bank secrecy laws in Switzerland would allow Sethi to conceal the existence of the account”.

In France, an HSBC manager, Nessim el-Maleh, was able to run a cash pipeline in which plastic bags full of currency from the sale of marijuana to immigrants in the Paris suburbs were collected. The cash was then taken round to HSBC’s respectable clients in the French capital. Bank accounts back in Switzerland were manipulated to reimburse the drug dealers.

HSBC is already facing criminal investigations and charges in France, Belgium, the US and Argentina as a result of the leak of the files, but no legal action has been taken against it in Britain.

Former tax inspector Richard Brooks tells BBC Panorama in a programme to be aired on Monday night: “I think they were a tax avoidance and tax evasion service. I think that’s what they were offering.

“There are very few reasons to have an offshore bank account, apart from just saving tax. There are some people who can use an … account to avoid tax legally. For others it’s just a way to keep money secret.”

The Labour party said: “Tax avoidance and evasion harms every taxpayer in Britain, and undermines public services like the NHS. What is truly shocking is that HMRC were made fully aware of these practices back in 2010 but since then very little has been done.””<

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New Boston Start-up Tracks Multifamily Residential Energy Efficiency “Score”

wego_screen_shotWegoWise Inc., which provides energy analytics to private property owners and public housing entities, last week launched WegoScore, a rating system that assesses buildings in three areas, energy, water and carbon and then spits out a score between one and 100.

Source: www.bizjournals.com

>” […] “We are focusing on a universal approach with meaningful reductions,” WegoWise founder and CTO Barun Singh said of the platform.

With the water crisis in California and with 39 percent of carbon dioxide coming from buildings, property owners and public housing agencies are making energy-saving retrofits and want to market what they’ve done.

Those buildings that reach a high rating are issued certificates and decals to let the world know they are more efficient. Maloney Properties Inc., a Wellesley-based real estate management, sales and construction firm with 350 buildings, is featuring its decal proudly. Other area companies include Peabody Properties in Braintree and Homeowners Rehab, based in Cambridge.

The score not only brings awareness to a building’s efficiency, it also provides a way for property owners to market the value of the work completed in their buildings to perspective tenants who are concerned about the environment, Singh said. And the stickers are a fun way to market their accomplishments.

After using WegoWise, Maloney Properties was able to find $2.5 million in 2014 retrofits and expects to save 10 to 20 percent on utility costs related to the retrofits annually. John Magee, an assistant facilities director at Maloney, said the real estate company has been looking for a way to market the value of its properties. And now, the WegoScore will enable it to do that.

With the $4.9 million in funding it has raised from Boston Community Capital, WegoWise was able to build a portfolio of 23,000 multifamily buildings covering more than 600 million square feet. With all of the data that WegoWise has collected since its launch in 2010, coming up with a rating system would be a simple solution, right? Not exactly, according Singh.

Launching WegoScore was an expensive and lengthy process for the 25-person company, he said. Before launching the rating system, Singh said he wanted to be sure that had enough data to come up with a score that was meaningful.

“The end result is a straight-forward algorithm,” he said.

The WegoScore is currently only available for multifamily buildings, according to the company. Scores will be refreshed on a weekly basis and stickers are awarded twice a year.

In addition to gaining interest from its existing customers, venture-backed WegoWise is also garnering the attention of other potential partners including banks, who could use the score as a way to get a sense of the building and decide whether or not to lend to them, and insurance providers that would make decisions based on the building’s efficiency score and other factors. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

Electricity storage becomes priority as solar and wind energy cost keeps dropping

“And the cost of solar power is declining amazingly. Austin Energy signed a deal recently that a solar farm is selling at 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. A recent study by Lazard gave a cost of 5.6 cents for solar and 1.4 cents for wind power (with current subsidies) or 7.2 cents for solar and 3.7 cents for wind without subsidies. Natural gas came in at 6.1 cents and coal at 6.6 cents. The Solar Energy Industries Association claims that in the Southwest electricity contracts for solar energy have dropped 70 percent since 2008.”

chemengineeringposts

imgres The rapid advances in the use of solar and wind energy – more in Europe, but now also gaining momentum in the U.S.- has put electricity “storage” front and center. That is because there is no solar production at night and little on cloudy days, while strong winds are unpredictable in most locations. So, the best “model” for these renewable energy sources is to generate as much as possible at favorable times and to “store” excess production for periods when solar and wind energy supply are low.

And the cost of solar power is declining amazingly. Austin Energy signed a deal recently that a solar farm is selling at 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. A recent study by Lazard gave a cost of 5.6 cents for solar and 1.4 cents for wind power (with current subsidies) or 7.2 cents for solar and 3.7 cents for wind without subsidies. Natural gas came in at…

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Retro-fit NYC Office Building Achieve’s LEED-EB Gold Rating

A $9 million retrofit that included $1.5 million in improvements that can be directly or indirectly linked to energy and water savings has elevated the building to a select group that includes 1440 Broadway, 498 Seventh Avenue and 345 Hudson Street.

Source: www.rew-online.com

>” […] Built in 1919, the 22-story tower with a block-through arcade of service shops for tenants, has undergone a plethora of changes to improve sustainability to achieve Gold Certification that include reducing water use by over 25 percent annually, saving over 536,800 gallons a year; recycling over 79 percent of ongoing consumable waste; recycling 100 percent of electronics waste; achieving Energy Star Label and Energy Star Scores of 86 and 83 in 2013 and 2014, respectively; and purchasing green power and carbon offsets from US-generated wind energy and landfill gas capture projects representing over 50% of the property’s two-year energy use

“The LEED-EB Gold Certification at 28 West 44th Street demonstrates APF Properties’ ongoing commitment to providing its tenants with a sustainable, modern and healthy environment in which to work,” said John Fitzsimmons, vice president/director of Real Estate Operations at APF Properties.

“Our overall goal is to achieve Energy Star and LEED Certification throughout our commercial office building portfolio in New York, Philadelphia and Houston.

[…]

LEED was developed to define and clarify the term “green building” by establishing a common standard of measurement — a benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance buildings.

To earn LEED certification, a building must meet certain prerequisites and performance criteria within five key areas of environmental health: 1) sustainable site development, 2) water savings, 3) energy efficiency, 4) materials selection, and 5) indoor environmental quality. Projects are awarded Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification, depending on the number of credits achieved.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Multifamily Building Energy Efficiency: SLEEC Financing

This winter, ACEEE, in partnership with Energi Insurance Services, will host a second gathering of select members of the Small Lenders Energy Efficiency Community (SLEEC) in Washington, D.C. The initial SLEEC convening in October 2013 brought together small- to medium-size lenders to discuss strategies for expanding activity in the market for energy efficiency financing. Building off the success of that first meeting, the second SLEEC gathering will focus exclusively on financing in the multifamily sector […]

Source: aceee.org

>” […] The goal of the upcoming SLEEC meeting is to discuss how recent developments inform the lender perspective on the size, attractiveness, and viability of the finance market for multifamily efficiency. We chose to address multifamily this year because potential savings are phenomenal at an estimated $3.4 billion per annum, and multifamily has traditionally been characterized by the label “hard to reach” due to significant barriers to entry. Single-family residential, large commercial, and MUSH (municipal, universities, schools, and hospitals) markets pose fewer barriers and have therefore been easier to approach, while multifamily is a more complex market posing greater obstacles.

The first and most commonly cited obstacle is known as the split-incentive problem: Landlords and building owners don’t always have an incentive to pursue energy efficiency improvements since their tenants would be the ones benefitting from reductions in energy bills. The next most bemoaned roadblocks are a lack of information and lack of available capital. Landlords and owners are experts at running their buildings, but may be in the dark on energy efficiency. Utilities and many loan agencies, while knowledgeable about energy efficiency, lack experience interacting with tenants. The resulting information gap inhibits energy efficiency projects from getting off the ground. This problem is exacerbated by a lack of capital, especially in the affordable housing market, where many buildings owners hold 30-year mortgages on their property with only one refinancing opportunity after 15 years. Unless building owners and potential lenders can capitalize on this small window, many projects would not have another opportunity to finance efficiency improvements for another 15 years.

Despite these barriers, there are a number of successful initiatives that are poised for impact. Perhaps the most successful is Energy Savers, a Chicago-based partnership between Elevate Energy and the Community Investment Corporation (CIC) that has retrofitted 17,500 apartments since 2008.  […] Innovative programs such as these are paving the way for energy efficiency in the multifamily housing market.

A perceived lack of capital may be attributable to issues surrounding the valuation of energy efficiency from a building owner’s perspective that manifests as low demand. […] “<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

Boston Housing Authority to invest $11m in energy efficiency and infrastructure upgrades for Public Housing

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

The Malden Housing Authority will spend more than $11 million to make its public housing units more energy efficient, work officials believe will pay for itself.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The 250-unit complex has a central power plant with utilities distributed to each building through pipes installed in the 1950s. The pipes are in poor condition, Finn said, which results in uneven distribution of heat and water pressure. “Those pipes are a problem; they are aging in place,” he said.

The new system will feature one energy-efficient boiler for every two units in the 58 Housing Authority buildings on Newman Road, Finn said. The old pipes will remain and could be used by the authority or the city as underground electricity conduits, he said. The work on Newman Road is expected to cost $4.3 million.

The Housing Authority received the 20-year $11.27 million bond through MassDevelopment , an entity created by the Legislature in 1998 to act as a finance and development authority.

“We’re pleased to support the Malden Housing Authority with this low-cost financing to improve homes for low-income families, reduce the cost of utilities for the authority’s developments, and to support the Commonwealth’s goal of improving energy technologies and efficiencies, resulting in reduced cost,” MassDevelopment chief executive Marty Jones said in a prepared statement.

For the bond financing agreement, the authority will pay a fixed interest rate of 4.12 percent to East Boston Savings Bank, which is loaning the funds. But the bank was only able to do that by entering into an interest-rate swap agreement with another institution, PNC Bank.

The move allowed East Boston Savings Bank to offer a fixed-rate loan, which the Housing Authority needed in order to comply with federal housing standards, said Joseph Leary, vice president of East Boston Savings Bank.<

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