Security, energy efficiency and tight operating budgets are just a few of the issues expected to be front and center, as the world’s oldest and largest trade group geared to commercial building operators brings its annual global conference to San Diego for the first time since 2000.
Organizers said the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International building conference and expo, scheduled for June 23-25, was expected to bring between 2,000 and 3,000 people to the San Diego Convention Center.
Local BOMA member and conference Co-Chair Kim Davis, who is also business development director in the San Diego office of security firm Universal Protection Service, said conference participants will be focused on ways to navigate a climate of continued cost-consciousness among building operators.
Commercial building owners and operators are seeking ways to provide better security and other vital services, while keeping energy usage and other overhead in check. Panels will discuss topics including the growing trend of jurisdictions, including the state of California, to require energy-use reporting by building owners, and how building operators can better use mobile technology to serve tenants, bolster marketing and boost efficiency.
“There’s a lot of discussion about improving security around buildings after what happened with the Boston Marathon, and people are looking at different technologies,” Davis said. “Energy efficiency is also probably going to be a big topic at this conference.”
Davis said the annual gathering is also deemed a key meeting place for industry networking and contract deal-making for service providers and building operators, as well as keeping updated on trends.
Most commonly known by its acronym these days, BOMA International is a federation of 93 local and regional organizations in the U.S., with an additional 24 chapters and affiliates worldwide.
Local Chapter’s 50th Anniversary
The building management industry’s largest trade advocacy group has a history dating back to 1907, with more than 16,000 U.S. members including owners, developers, managers, leasing professionals and related service contractors and vendors. BOMA’s 300-member San Diego chapter this year is marking the 50th anniversary of its founding.
Henry Chamberlain, president and chief operating officer of the Washington, D.C.-based BOMA International, said the organization has been holding its global gathering for more than 70 years, alternating among several East and West Coast sites.
He said conference panels will examine ways in which building operators have had to respond in recent years to big changes in the way companies use their office space, especially if they have younger workers who prefer open, collaborative settings over cubicles.
“The developers and the managers are still adjusting to the changes in technology that are happening out there in the workplace,” Chamberlain said. “The multitenant buildings aren’t seeing total space usage drop so much as they’re seeing changes in how that space is actually being used.”
While the organization has generally resisted government attempts to mandate commercial building energy-use reporting, Chamberlain said BOMA was an early advocate of industry benchmarking and improvement programs to enhance efficiency. Among its current priorities is increasing federal tax credits available to building owners who improve properties for energy efficiency, to help offset improvement costs.
Chamberlain said the cost of water usage is becoming an increasingly high-profile issue facing building owners, in Eastern as well as Western states. Opportunities for industry service growth include the burgeoning number of apartment communities coming online, and changes underway as a result of federal health care reforms.
$55.1B Projected for 2013
“The whole health care delivery system is being reconfigured, and that is going to impact the building operators and the providers,” Chamberlain said.
According to the industry research firm IBISWorld Inc., the U.S. property management industry has seen revenue grow at a slim 0.7 percent annual rate over the past five years, to a projected $55.1 billion for 2013. Over the next five years, revenue is expected to grow at a rate of 2 percent annually.
IBISWorld notes that there are 154,404 U.S. firms serving the property management industry in various capacities. The industry historically has been resistant to economic downturns, as property owners lower costs by outsourcing a variety of management duties.
However, during the Great Recession, falling property values directly reduced the fees that management-related firms charged for their services, often calculated as a percentage of a building’s value.
Researchers note that a slump in new construction also shrank the pool of new management contracts awarded, though the sector generally has recuperated from the 8.2 percent drop in revenue seen in 2009, at the recession’s low point.