The real estate market in booming in the City of San Francisco and so is our Property Condition Assessment (a.k.a. Commercial Building Inspection) practice. As real estate investors from inside and outside the Bay Area rush to invest in the nation’s hottest real estate markets, they need to understand the buildings that they are buying and for this goal they need local engineering expertise. In addition to Property Condition Assessments, two other commercial building assessments San Francisco real estate investors and lender should consider are:
- Seismic Risk Assessments, and
- Energy Audits / Energy Benchmarking.
San Francisco Property Condition Assessments
Property Condition Assessments (PCAs) are performed for lending institutions or prospective purchasers of properties and the scope of work can vary depending on the intended use. For lenders the Property Condition Assessment provides a tool for comparing the cost of maintaining the property to the property’s income. For prospective purchasers, a Property Condition Assessment provides an understanding of the building systems and associated issues and the potential costs with owning a property and the findings of the PCA can be used in negotiations with the seller. The user of a PCA should carefully consider their requirements and the purpose the report is serving, as well as their risk tolerance, in determining the appropriate level of inquiry when ordering a PCA report. Partner can provide assistance in determining what level is appropriate for specific transactions and our expertise in San Francisco and our knowledge of the area’s developmental history and building practices allows us to service our clients efficiently and effectively.
Seismic Risk Assessments in San Francisco are Critical
A Seismic Risk Assessment – a.k.a. Probable Maximum Loss (PML) estimation – is a valuable tool utilized to evaluate expected seismic losses for properties in regions such as the San Francisco Bay Area. A seismic risk assessment evaluates the regional seismic hazard, site conditions, and building vulnerability. A loss estimate, referred to commonly as the PML, is calculated based on the synthesis of the regional seismic hazard and the expected performance of the building(s). For seismic due diligence related to commercial real estate transactions, the Probable Maximum Loss is most often expressed as the Scenario Expected Loss (SEL), which corresponds to the mean or average expected damage based on an earthquake with a 475-year return period. This earthquake scenario is referred to as the Design Basis Earthquake (DBE) ground motion, which is used as the basis for design of new buildings and rehabilitation of existing buildings in accordance with modern seismic codes. The key to obtaining a good quality Seismic Risk Assessment is engaging a qualified company with licensed professional engineers experienced in building design, retrofit, and seismic risk assessments. The center of Partner’s seismic risk practice is located in San Francisco. Partner’s engineers utilize the industry best practices and decades of structural engineering experience to provide comprehensive seismic risk and hazard mitigation services.
San Francisco Energy Audits and Benchmarking (Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance)
The City and County of San Francisco adopted the San Francisco Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance in 2011 requiring owners of commercial buildings to obtain energy efficiency audits and to disclose energy performance annually (benchmarking). Building owners are responsible for annual benchmark reporting using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool. The first deadline for compliance, requiring buildings greater than 25,000 square feet to submit an Annual Energy Benchmark Summary (AEBS) report, has already passed. AEBS reports are due annually on April 1st and energy audits are required once every five years. Building energy consumption is a controllable operating cost of building owners and is a larger source of greenhouse gas emissions than transportation. Paying attention to energy efficiencies and other “green” features in buildings can increase the value of the property and also allow building owners to be more competitive in attracting quality tenants. A large number of buildings have failed to submit AEBS reports by the first reporting deadline and are out of compliance. Partner’s energy practice can provide professional engineering services to get your building into compliance and keep it in compliance.