Commercial Building Owners Face Uncertain Times
02/10/2012 | by Carisa Chappell

Building owners are busy trying to anticipate what the tenant space of the future will look like, according to Henry Chamberlain, president and chief operating officer of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA International).

In a video interview with at the NAREIT headquarters in Washington, D.C., Chamberlain discussed issues facing commercial building owners and the association's recent legislative conference.

"We've got this mobile world. People are working off of their PDA's or iPads and they don't need office space quite as much," Chamberlain said. "So you hear a lot of conversation about consolidating space needs, creating a different open workplace or leveraging technology in a variety of ways for remote teams to come together."

He said that the building owners who can figure out how to service those tenants first will create great brand recognition and value.

When it comes to policy and legislative issues, Chamberlain said that BOMA members gathered in Washington recently and took to Capitol Hill to ask lawmakers to support a number of commercial real estate issues. He said members are keeping a close eye on issues revolving around taxes, leasehold appreciation, brownfields, carried interest, and energy bills.

Chamberlain also said a new bill is being proposed based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. This bill would allow owners to remedy situations before they are sued for not accommodating some form of a disability.

Commercial building owners face uncertain times, according to Chamberlain.

"There's uncertainty on the finance and debt side as to what the banks are going to be doing in terms of lending and what the politicians are going to be doing in terms of taxes," he said, adding that owners are also concerned about what new regulations will be introduced.

Chamberlain also discussed the association's BOMA 360 Performance Program®, which recognizes excellence in building operations and management. The program evaluates all major areas of building operations and management, including safety, security, training and community involvement in addition to sustainability and energy efficiency. Chamberlain said that 350 commercial real estate buildings have achieved the BOMA 360 designation within the past two years.

"I like to think of it as a BOMA best practices building. It's a holistic building designation, so it's different than the purely green designations that are out there," Chamberlain said.

However, he added that all of the designations fill different needs in the marketplace.

"So, it's like creating a big green menu of options," he said.