New Space Measurement Standards Talk of the Town in DC

The head of the District of Columbia Building Industry Association says that the nation’s capital can be at the forefront of introducing new International Property Measurement Standards in the United States.
Ken Creighton

Ken Creighton, RICS

The head of the District of Columbia Building Industry Association says that the nation’s capital can be at the forefront of introducing new International Property Measurement Standards in the United States.

“We need to look at assets with predictability. D.C. can be a pilot for implementation of IPMS in the U.S., especially by working with our members and organizations such as BOMA International and the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington,” Lisa Mallory, DCBIA CEO, said in a news release. “Standarization of building measurement could build a lot of traction here by eliminating variability in this crucial area.”

The DCBIA is in the process of evaluating the new standards and educating its members about them.

Mallory made similar comments when she was a panelist at a recent D.C. Real Estate Leaders’ event on IPMS at the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington, D.C. The forum was sponsored by DCBIA, BOMA International, AOBA, the American Institute of Architects-DC and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

IPMS establishes standard methodologies for how to categorize elements in buildings such as support columns, common areas, terraces, emergency stairwells, and what can and can’t be included in measurements.

For two years, a coalition of 61 professional and not-for-profit organizations have been working to create standards when it comes to measuring real estate. The coalition appointed an independent group of experts to develop the first set of standards for office buildings, which was introduced in November. The International Property Measurement Standard for Offices will replace dozens of existing standards currently in use around the world. When it was released in the fall, the coalition noted the new standard will benefit the way property assets are managed and how financial decisions are made by investors, corporate occupiers, buyers and sellers.

“With the introduction of the IPMS for office buildings we now have a methodology that can be consistently applied anywhere in the world, creating cross-border transparency and the ability to accurately benchmark operations,” Lisa Prats, BOMA International vice president and vice chair of the IPMSC Board of Trustees, said in the release.

Different standards have been used throughout the world leading to differences in area quoted to vary as much as 24 percent, according to JLL research. With more than $1 trillion worldwide spent in 2013 on commercial property and the increasing globalization of the CRE industry, experts agree the standards were needed.

“The real estate industry is becoming more and more global every day. Property owners, tenants, investors and professionals operate across borders on an increasing basis and therefore demand common rules of engagement,” Ken Creighton, director of standards for RICS & chair of the IPMS Coalition, told Commercial Property Executive. “It is crazy to think in today’s interconnected world something as fundamental as measurement can be so drastically inconsistent around the world.”

Creighton, who also participated in the Washington, D.C. panel, noted that the challenge of measurement inconsistency wasn’t new, but the conviction to make changes across the industry is. He said by eliminating a sense of “us and them,” standards organizations were able to come together to create a movement that will have legitimacy.

“IPMS for Offices is the first in a suite of standards that will bring consistency to property management,” he told CPE. “A standard for residential property is next and common standards of professional ethics will not be far behind.”