The Campaign for Haas

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Alumni Invest in Real Estate Research


The doors to Novogradac & Company first opened in San Francisco on Oct. 17, 1989, the fateful day that the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the Bay Area and brought the World Series to a standstill. "I can literally say the ground shook when I opened my business," says Michael Novogradac, MBA 84. Twenty-one years later, his accounting and consulting firm is still standing, with twelve offices nationwide. Novogradac and his wife, Barbara, BS 84, recently decided to give back to Haas by helping to fund research in real estate, a niche of Novogradac's firm.


Novogradac credits his success in large part to his years at Haas, where he discovered a passion for real estate—and met his future wife when he tutored her in economics. When the couple decided to give back to Haas, they wanted to support research that resonated with their interest in real estate. Novogradac & Company offers accounting and consulting services in niche areas of real estate taxation, such as affordable housing, community development, and renewable energy. Their $75,000 gift furthers research that aims to help homeowners lower their energy costs and use renewable energy.


The gift builds on a large Department of Energy grant that Haas real estate and finance professors Nancy Wallace, Dwight Jaffee, and Richard Stanton received in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories research scientists and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty. The DOE grant will enable the researchers to develop energy efficiency metrics for commercial real estate; the Novogradacs' gift expands the research to residential real estate mortgage lending.


The Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, whose co-chairs include Wallace and Jaffee, will oversee a research team of MBA and PhD students developing similar metrics for residential PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs nationwide. PACE programs let homeowners finance energy efficiency retrofits by getting a loan from their city and then paying it back over 15 to 20 years through their property tax bills. Until now, PACE programs haven't conformed to a consistent set of criteria. This research would create standards to enable homeowners and rental property owners get financing for solar panels and other renewal energy projects, Novogradac explains.


Novogradac says that one of his goals in giving to the Campaign for Haas was to "allow undergrads to get exposure to this knowledge." He says he connects most strongly to the Haas defining principle "Student Always." "It's something I'm pretty passionate about. I'm constantly out there trying to learn more and do more and expand and grow," Novogradac says. "Where I am now is built on thousands and thousands of years of learning. You get to the tip of the spear, and then future generations can build on that learning. This renewable energy project seemed like a worthy effort." –Carinne Johnson