Those in the real estate industry will soon see a new look for both the Standard Method for Measuring Floor Area in Office Buildings and the Standard Methods for Measuring Floor Area in Industrial Buildings. This new look comes as both standards have gone through a process to become American National Standards (ANSs), recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
What are standards?
Standards are documented agreements established by a consensus of subject-matter experts and approved by a recognized body that provides rules and guidelines to ensure that materials, products, processes, and services are fit for their purpose.
ANSI facilitates the development of American National Standards by accrediting the procedures of standard-developing organizations (SDOs). Accreditation signifies that the procedures used by the SDOs in the development of ANSs meet ANSI's requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process. The ANSI process does not test, nor does it review, the contents of the standard. BOMA is an ANSI-accredited American National Standards developer.
The consensus body includes representatives from those materially affected and interested. The process also includes:
- Broad-based review and comment.
- Consideration of and response to comments submitted by reviewers.
- Inclusion of approved changes.
- Right to appeal process-related decisions.
The "new-look" standard replaces the 1996 edition of the BOMA standard. The contents and methodology remain the same, however. The Standard Methods for Measuring Floor Area in Industrial Buildings, developed by BOMA in collaboration with the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), is seeing its first time through the complete ANSI process. Just prior to the balloting and public review process, a few minor revisions were made to clarify its use.
Revising the BOMA Office Standard
The first BOMA standard for measuring office space was developed in 1915. Since then, it has been revised nine times to keep pace with building design and leasing trends. The process is under way to revise the "new-look" standard. The most sought-after change for the new version of the office standard will probably be the use of a building-wide Rentable/Useable (R/U) Ratio; however, there will be other changes included as well. BOMA and the Dallas-based Intl. Facility Management Association (IFMA) worked together to develop common definitions for floor measurements for office facilities. The final result is a publication titled A Unified Approach for Measuring Office Space. Many of the terms in this publication will be incorporated into the new BOMA standard.
The Need for Additional Floor Standards
Building codes, through the establishment of various types of occupancy, have already firmly categorized non-residential buildings. With this "official" segmentation, and with the leasing practices developed for each occupancy, the real estate market has found that the BOMA floor measurement standard for office buildings and the BOMA/SIOR industrial floor measurement standard are either inappropriate or cannot be satisfactorily adapted for other occupancies (such as retail and multi-family). Over the past few years, the requests for floor measurement standards for other forms of occupancy have increased.
The New York City-based Intl. Council of Shopping Centers and BOMA have agreed to develop a floor measurement standard for retail facilities, including regional and strip malls, freestanding retail buildings, and other retail structures. With the demand for a retail standard increasing and the adaptation of BOMA's office standard for retail purposes lacking, the development of a retail standard is a natural.
In addition to the standards above, BOMA is working on two others: a standard for multi-family buildings and another for gross building area. BOMA is collaborating with the Chicago-based Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), the National Multi Housing Council, and the National Association of Home Builders (both based in Washington, D.C.) on the multi-family project.
Enhancing BOMA Standards through the International Arena
Floor measurement standards will always be changing to reflect the changes in the design of buildings and to reflect the changes in the real estate market. Fostering this change, of course, are the numerous categories of parties that have an interest in any particular standard. Those interests include individuals in real estate abroad.
BOMA will continue to expand its efforts to develop internationally recognized standards and their use by commercial real estate professionals in the United States and abroad. Initial efforts should include a more robust working relationship with the Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate and its ties to standards developers in the United Kingdom and the European Union.
For information on this and other issues, call BOMA Intl. at (202) 408-2662 or visit (www.boma.org).