Ron Simpson: Negotiating Green for the GSA

04/01/2008 |

Ron Simpson attends industry events as a learning experience and cutting-edge solutions

EPA Regional Headquarters, Denver, Colorado

Portfolio: For the last eight years, I have been a realty specialist for GSA, acquiring space for use by federal agencies. Currently, I handle acquisitions in the state of Colorado. Part of my responsibility is to require our private sector lessors to conform and perform the green functions of our lease. I was part of the team that negotiated the ten-year lease for a design/construct for the ninestory, 290,000 square foot EPA Regional Headquarters in downtown Denver, which incorporated a significant number of sustainability and green requirements.

Challenge: With 24 LEED-certified buildings and more on the way, GSA has taken a position of leadership in energy efficiency to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, GSA must follow the requirements set forth in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which also established the Office of High-Performance Green Buildings (OHPGB) in the GSA to promote green building technology implementation in federal buildings. The extent to which we meet Congressional mandates varies from procurement to procurement.

Strategy: Inherently, size does matter. When we do design/construct, the federal government is almost always the dominant tenant and that's when we can specify green in more areas. Even though the same rules apply to leased space, we have to deal with the marketplace and that means we can't be as stringent as we'd like. When we are a small tenant in a large building, we have to adjust our expectations so that a private sector lessor will be willing to work with us. It simply doesn't make economic sense to make them spend enormous amounts of money to accommodate us, especially in small, rural communities. We apply a sliding scale based on the percentage of the space we occupy in a given building to determine the level of green building requirements. We deal with procurements one at a time.

Conference Perspective: With 48 years of experience in commercial real estate and as BOMA International president from 1983-1985, I understand the business, but I always learn something new. Education has played a tremendous role and continues to help me meet the needs of changing markets and overcome challenges along the way. The Office Building Show has been a prime learning experience for me with its cutting-edge solutions and suppliers. Over the years, I discovered floor wax that allowed us to have shiny floors without creating a hazard, and carpet tiles that are now affordable, durable and versatile. I got my first look at modular office furniture, which, by the way, many thought would not be successful, and so many other products and services that have helped me manage buildings more effectively and better meet my tenants' needs prior to my association with GSA. I've learned a fair share by attending the BOMA Conference, too. Staying up-to-date is a must in this business and the BOMA Conference provides just what we need.


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