ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 1 - Issue: 9 - 07/05/2012

Building Owners with Green Workspaces Have Something New to Smile About

By Steve Rizer

 

The results of a recent survey should put smiles on the faces of building owners who are thinking about charging hefty premiums for the use of their green workspaces. Overall, tenants responding to Kingsley Associates’ survey expressed more satisfaction being in buildings with a BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) 360 designation -- which includes standards for indoor air quality, building management, and other environmentally impactful factors -- than traditional buildings.

 

BOMA 360 is a commercial real estate designation developed by BOMA International that recognizes “all-around excellence” in building operations and management. The program benchmarks a building’s performance in six categories, including: Security and Safety; Training and Education; Energy; Environment and Sustainability; Operations and Management; and Tenant Relations. The Energy category includes the following subcategories: Energy Star benchmarking; Energy Star Products for Building and Tenants; Building Energy Management; Energy Audit/System Commissioning/Re-commissioning; and 7-Point Challenge Acceptance. The Environment and Sustainability category includes Waste Management and Recycling Policies, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Green Cleaning, Exterior Maintenance Management, Water Management, and Traffic Reduction Initiatives. Green leasing is evaluated through the Building Operations and Management category.

 

According to the study, buildings that have earned the BOMA 360 Performance Program designation have higher tenant satisfaction scores in 52 out of 54 categories compared to commercial office buildings without the BOMA 360 designation. Also, 92 percent of tenants in BOMA 360 buildings reported high overall satisfaction, four percentage points higher than the share of tenants in non-BOMA 360 buildings who expressed high overall satisfaction. Here are results for individual rating areas:

 

  • About 80 percent of tenants in BOMA 360 buildings rated the indoor air quality of their workplace structures as “good” or “excellent” compared to 74 percent of tenants in other buildings who made such an indication. The average rating on a 1-5 scale for IAQ was 4.07 for BOMA 360 tenants compared to 3.96 for non-BOMA 360 tenants.
     
  • Approximately 68 percent of tenants in BOMA 360 buildings rated their workplace heating and air-conditioning quality “good” or “excellent,” which surpassed the comparable share for tenants in other buildings by three percentage points. The average rating for heating and air-conditioning was 3.82 for BOMA 360 tenants compared to 3.73 for non-BOMA 360 tenants.
     
  • Roughly 85 percent of tenants in BOMA 360 buildings rated workspace lighting quality as “good” or “excellent,” bettering the comparable figure for tenants in other buildings by one percentage point. The average rating for workspace lighting was 4.25 for BOMA 360 tenants compared to 4.18 for non-BOMA 360 tenants.
     
  • About 93 percent of tenants in BOMA 360 buildings rated the quality of their buildings as “good” of “excellent” compared to a share of 90 percent among tenants in other buildings. The average rating for the quality of their buildings was 4.42 for BOMA 360 tenants compared to 4.34 for non-BOMA 360 tenants.

 

“BOMA 360 is an increasingly valuable designation for property owners and managers to differentiate their assets as a way to recruit and retain tenants,” said BOMA International Chair-elect Joseph Markling, managing director of strategic accounts at CBRE. “The findings of this study confirm that BOMA 360 buildings consistently provide quality tenant service and achieve top-notch performance.”

 

There are 462 BOMA 360 buildings in more than 55 cities in the United States, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., cities that each have more than 25 BOMA 360 buildings.

 

Kingsley Associates is a provider of research and consulting services for the real estate industry. The company’s findings are based on surveys of 4,000 tenants in 180 BOMA 360 buildings.

 

Only occupied commercial office buildings and industrial buildings are eligible for the BOMA 360 Performance Program designation. BOMA International considers multi-tenant office buildings; single-tenant office buildings; corporate facilities; government buildings; medical office buildings; suburban office parks; and multi-use/mixed-use buildings to be commercial office structures for the purposes of the program. For multi-use buildings (i.e. office/retail, office/residential, mixed-use, etc.), information should be reported only on the office portion of the building. If the building contains no occupied commercial office space or is a hotel, apartment/multi-family, or retail/shopping center, it is not eligible for participation.

 

In addition to meeting these eligibility requirements, the following are required for buildings to be entered into the BOMA 360 Performance Program: a Standard Operating Procedures Manual and a preventive maintenance program must be in place for the building; absent an exemption, the building’s income and expense performance data must be included in the most recent BOMA Experience Exchange Report (EER) survey; the building must be benchmarked through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager and data shared with BOMA International; and participation in the EER survey is required every year to maintain the BOMA 360 designation.

 

Brian Green, BOMA International’s chief finance officer and vice president of finance, administration, information technology, and research, provided ConstructionPro Week (CPW) the following additional information via an email interview:

 

CPW: In what ways do BOMA 360 standards for energy, sustainability, indoor air quality, and other environmentally impactful facets of a building differ from the comparable standards included in LEED, Green Globes, and other green building rating systems? What does BOMA 360 offer in environmental benefits that is unique?

 

Green: The BOMA 360 program differs from LEED and other rating programs as it focuses on process, not products. The criteria -- including that for energy efficiency, sustainability, IAQ, etc.-- is based on industry best practices and evaluated on how building management achieves best practice in that particular area. For example, BOMA 360 asks that designees have an energy-management plan or an IAQ plan in place to ensure that they achieve best practices in those areas. Education is another important aspect of BOMA 360. This includes education for building staff (obtaining licenses, designations, etc.) as well as how building staff educate tenants/customers on strategies to reduce energy consumption.

 

CPW: There are 462 BOMA 360 buildings in 55 cities. By how much are these figures expected to increase and by when? What predictions have been made for the program’s growth?

 

Green: We are enjoying steady increase in the number of buildings achieving the 360 designation as the program begins to gain traction in the marketplace.

 

CPW: What estimates can you provide regarding the average expected increase in cost in building to BOMA 360 standards, the cost of certification, and the average cost of operating a building to BOMA 360 standards? What is the cost premium associated with BOMA 360?

 

Green: Since the BOMA 360 Performance Program is process based, not product based, it is unique as it evaluates a building and its management’s ability to operate the property to best-practice standards. We have many examples of how buildings have improved their performance because of the program and saved money.

 

One designee described BOMA 360 best practices as a yardstick that helps management measure performance and areas that need improvement. By following BOMA 360 best practices, management was able to reduce BTUs [British thermal units] by roughly 20 percent compared to seven or eight years earlier.

 

Another designee said that keeping up with the documentation necessary for BOMA 360 on recycling, energy usage, and annual audits keeps management aware on a monthly basis of any fluctuations in efficiencies, allowing them to make changes immediately if inefficiencies arise. Management continued to see increases in recycling reimbursement and reductions in energy costs.

 

CPW: How is your organization going about promoting BOMA 360 to building owners, managers, prospective tenants, and others? What efforts, if any, are there to get the BOMA 360 rating system specified in legislation and contracts?

 

Green: BOMA is promoting the program through our B2B marketing efforts that include direct mail, eBlasts, advertising, and public relations. [One] of the most effective ways we have promoted the program is through our local associations -- for example, BOMA/Georgia holds periodic ‘Lunch and Learns,’ where they explain the program to their members and walk them through the process. Many of our local associations have formed 360 councils to assist members in the application process. Also, word of mouth has been a powerful and effective marketing tool.

 

CPW: What plans are there for a follow-up survey or for any additional research involving BOMA 360? When may another report be released?

 

Green: We conduct the Kingsley tenant satisfaction study yearly. In another year, when the program has been in place for four years, we will be able to analyze other trends of 360 buildings, such as energy performance.

 

A list of individual BOMA 360 buildings can be accessed at http://www.boma.org/getinvolved/boma360/Pages/360Buildings.aspx.

 

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