BOMA International Testifies Before Congress on Commercial Building Maintenance

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On March 24, 2010, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International testified before Congress on commercial building maintenance in a hearing titled “Capital Crisis Management: Maintaining Federal Real Estate with the Dwindling Federal Building Fund.” As the committee considers how to allocate funds for the maintenance of federal buildings managed by the U. S. General Services Administration (GSA), BOMA was called to testify on building maintenance best practices in private sector commercial buildings. Richard W. Greninger, managing partner, Carr Services, represented BOMA International before the hearing of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Greninger described to Chairman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and members of the subcommittee the type of maintenance plans commercial buildings in the private sector have in place to maximize equipment life and optimize building operations, and stressed the importance of preventive and predictive maintenance. “Buildings are designed and built to last for decades,” said Greninger. “But in order to keep the building in good repair, keep systems running at their optimal performance levels and attract and retain quality tenants, buildings must have a management plan in place and adequately budget for repairs and maintenance.”

Greninger also pointed out that according to BOMA International’s Experience Exchange Report (EER), which benchmarks income and expense data in commercial buildings, federal buildings are often more expensive to maintain than private sector buildings. In the 2009 EER, private sector commercial office buildings on average spent approximately 25% of a building’s operating expenses on repairs and maintenance, while government buildings spent on average 28%.

“As you can see, the comparison is relatively dramatic. The repair and maintenance costs in public sector buildings are considerably higher than in private sector buildings,” noted Greninger. “Less preventive maintenance and a higher average age of the buildings in the data set may explain this, although we just ask for the numbers and we do not survey about maintenance practices.”

BOMA International’s testimony urged Congress to grant GSA sufficient funding for federal building maintenance. “The General Services Administration has done a good job with the tools they have been given. However, to most effectively manage a diverse range of facility design, construction, rehabilitation, restoration, renovation and operations projects, they must be given sufficient funding.”
BOMA International has testified twice before the House Subcommittee on the effects of the credit crunch on commercial real estate, including federal buildings.

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