Does Natural Light = Healthier Workers?

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How important is exposure to natural light to employee health and productivity? New research by Northwestern University neurologists and a University of Illinois associate professor of architecture, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in June and summarized in a recent Science Daily article, indicates that office workers with more exposure to natural light sleep longer and better, get more physical activity and have a better quality of life than those exposed to less light in the workplace.

“Employees with windows in the workplace received 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who did not have natural light exposure in the workplace,” the summary noted.

According to senior study author Phyllis Zee, M.D., “The study results confirm that light during the natural daylight hours has powerful effects on health.” Co-lead author Mohamed Boubekri, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, added that a simple design solution to augment daylight penetration into office buildings would involve making sure all workstations are within 20 to 25 feet of peripheral walls with windows.

Federal Reserve Policy on Short-Term Rates Key for Future CRE Asset Values

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How will the end of the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program (“quantitative easing”) affect commercial real estate asset values? In “Federal Reserve Policy on Short-Term Rates Is Key for Future CRE Asset Values in the U.S.,” CBRE Econometrics Advisors Capital Markets Economist Serguei Chervachidze reports that “movement in short- and medium-term interest rates will be instrumental in determining the trend of CRE asset values” and warns investors that focusing “only on longer-term yields is a mistake.”

The bottom line of CBRE’s analysis “is that changes in short- and medium-term interest rates exert a significant effect on commercial real estate asset values. If the Fed keeps these rates low during the next two years, real estate values will benefit from a significant boost in appreciation rates, but only in the short term. However, as soon as the Fed lets short- and medium-term rates catch up with longer-dated yields, values will see growth slow or even drop mildly. Alternatively, if the Fed allows short- and medium-term rates to adjust more naturally, along with longer-term yields, appreciation returns (and hence value growth) will experience a much smoother growth trajectory over the next five years.

In light of the above discussion,” the report concludes, “it is clear that investors can err greatly in their expectations by fixating solely on longer-term rates (or, worse, on a single metric, such as the 10-year Treasury). Rather, they would do well to pay attention to the entire term structure of interest rates — with a particular emphasis on short and medium-term rates — in order to correctly assess the impact of monetary policy on CRE investment performance.”

New CEO’s Strategy for Success: More Collaboration, Less Competition

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At the young age of 26, Mark Rose was CEO of the U.S. Real Estate Investment Trust of British Coal Corporation. Since then, he started his own firm, helped merge Jones Lang Wooten into Jones Lang LaSalle (now JLL) and took Grubb & Ellis’s stock from $4 to $14.

Knowing a thing or two about change, Rose recently sat down with Development magazine and shared his strategies to achieving success.

“We all want to be recognized; we all want to go home to our families and feel good about what we do,” he notes. “If you understand that about your people and your clients – that they are trying to maximize the satisfaction of their daily lives – then what you need to do is talk less and listen more.”

For more insight on how he views the path to success, where he sees interest rates and the emergence of millennials taking the economy, and why having his company headquartered in Canada – and not the U.S. – is a good thing, read the full article in the summer issue of Development magazine.

NAIOP Launches Infographic Campaign to Show Impact of Public Policy

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NAIOP members believe reauthorization of the federal transportation bill is of crucial importance to development and construction of commercial real estate projects. Take a look at how transportation funding – or the lack thereof – will leave developers, owners, investors and consumers spinning their wheels in frustration.

This is the first in a series of NAIOP-produced infographics capturing the impact of numerous public policies on the commercial real estate industry.

Congress Extends Transit Funding Moments before Hitting the Road

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Coming down to the wire, an extension to the transportation reauthorization bill passed in both the House and Senate last week just hours before Congress left town for its month-long recess.

The temporary bailout adds nearly $11 billion to the Highway Trust Fund originally scheduled to expire next month and now extends the lifespan of thousands of transportation projects across the country into May 2015.

While the Senate initially insisted the extension only last through the end of 2014 (as a means to force Congress to act on a new highway bill during the lame duck session), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) acknowledged he ran out of time and support to further debate the bailout and brought the House measure to the Senate floor where it passed by a vote of 81-13.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law early this week, though analysts note the debate over transportation funding doesn’t end there. As Democrats and Republicans continue to be at odds over increases to the gas tax – the core revenue source of the Highway Transit Fund that has not been adjusted since 1993, political observers anticipate debate will carry on through the fall and beyond the congressional mid-term elections in November but that serious legislative action will not take place until next year.