Challenging times call for innovative solutions, and now more than ever, the value that BOMA creates for its members -- as a business partner, a networking group, a solutions provider -- is helping us surmount those challenges together.
The deeper we got into 2008, the more evident it became that commercial real estate was not immune to the credit crisis gripping the residential real estate market and financial institutions. In July, BOMA International testified before Congress on the effects of the credit crunch, specifically on federal leasing and construction. BOMA International Chair Dick Purtell testified about how the uncertainty of financing is negatively impacting the commercial real estate market, and that "it is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire capital for new projects and renovations, for public buildings as well as those intended for private use" as "lenders are making it more and more expensive for even the most economically sound companies to borrow money."
In response to the growing financial crisis, BOMA got to work on a platform of strategies and solutions to help property professionals weather the recession. In October, BOMA launched the Rx Resource Exchange, a Web site featuring resources to help industry professionals sharpen their skills and stay competitive. The site lists books, interactive tools and educational programming on operations, leasing and tenant relations, sustainability, budgeting and emergency planning. The site also provides extensive professional development resources with information on networking, skill building, trends in real estate and the BOMA Career Center.
In late November, BOMA joined the Real Estate Roundtable and several other national real estate associations in sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and other key leaders detailing the urgency of the credit crisis and lack of confidence in the financial markets. The letter recommended the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve take several actions to stem the crisis, including the extension of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) to guarantee, finance or purchase highly rated, asset-backed securities collateralized by newly or recently originated commercial real estate mortgages. In 2008, BOMA cemented its standing as the industry's green leader by developing critical new partnerships and launching new products and programs, all while building on the success of already established energy efficiency initiatives. The 7-Point Challenge reached the 100-endorser milestone in 2008 and is widely embraced across the marketplace. Since its launch in July 2007, the challenge has garnered industry and media attention for its ambitious but achievable goal to improve energy efficiency across commercial real estate company portfolios by 30 percent by 2012, based on an Energy Star average building rating of 50.
In March BOMA International was awarded its second consecutive Energy Star Partner of the Year award for outstanding contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by promoting energy management in commercial buildings through the BOMA Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP).
BEEP continued to bring energy savings techniques to property professionals in 2008 with real estate companies CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield, LBA Realty and Grubb & Ellis adopting the BEEP seminars as part of their company's sustainability program. In the fall, BOMA introduced the next generation of green educational program with the Sustainable Operations Series (SOS), a program of four webinar series that teaches practical ways to green building operations.
BOMA International and the Clinton Climate Initiative recently collaborated on a groundbreaking new BOMA Energy Performance Contracting Model to allow building owners to perform major energy retrofits to the existing building marketplace by removing key barriers and providing a turnkey solution. Other "green" highlights from 2008 include the launch of the industry's first green lease guide, which proved to be an instant must-have bestseller. The publication includes annotations for Energy Star, LEED and GBI ratings programs.
BOMA International's advocacy and codes teams helped secure key legislative victories in 2008 that will help save the commercial real estate industry billons. Key victories came in the areas of leasehold depreciation, brown field remediation and tax deductions for energy-efficient commercial buildings. BOMA's codes victories alone amount to a $5.4 billion annual savings for the industry.
Whether responding to the escalating credit crunch or the growing need for the latest tools and resources, BOMA continued to bring critical programming to the industry in 2008. Many of these solutions were on display at the BOMA International Conference and The Office Building Show in Denver this past June. The industry's premier education was presented by leading industry experts in five core education tracks, more than 40 sessions in all, on topics that helped attendees achieve sustainability goals, build high-performance teams and optimize technology.
Responding to industry demand for core commercial real estate management education, BOMA launched Foundations of Real Estate Management in April. The program was developed from BOMA/Atlanta's successful education program Property Management 101, and is geared toward new and up-and-coming property professionals. BOMA local association across the country -- from Seattle to D.C. -- presented the course, receiving overwhelming positive feedback.
The 2008 Experience Exchange Report (EER), the industry's benchmarking standard, encompassed data from more than 5,000 buildings, comprising more than 1 billion square feet of office space. It was also announced that the EER will be undergoing several groundbreaking enhancements, thanks to a collaboration between BOMA and Kingsley Associates, an industry-leading research and business intelligence firm, to produce the landmark report. The new EER will be going to a completely online interface, making it a much more flexible and nimble resource, allowing end users to sort and extract exactly the information they need.
The year ahead will be challenging for us all, which is why, now more than ever, the value BOMA brings to the marketplace is critical to meet those challenges.
Stucky is building manager/special projects coordinator for the city of San Diego's General Services Department and secretary/treasurer of BOMA International.