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Four Things Office Buildings Must Do to Stay Ahead of Competition

As more companies focus on corporate sustainability programs to rein in costs, it's critical for office owners and managers to focus on sustainability and technology to stay one step ahead in attracting tenants. Riverview Realty Partners president and CEO Jeff Patterson and general manager Susan Hammer tell us what it takes to make buildings competitive in today’s changing environment.

1) Keeping on Top of Certifications


If a landlord wants to attract large national and multi-national firms, obtaining LEED, WiredScore, and Energy Star certifications are increasingly important.

“We implement sustainability measures as a matter of course in order to position space to be leased by those tenants,” Jeff says. Riverview’s trophy asset, AMA Plaza at 330 N Wabash in Chicago, has LEED Gold, Wired Gold, BOMA 360 and IREM sustainable property certifications, and it's also a multiple BOMA/Chicago TOBY winner.

AMA Plaza has also earned an Energy Star score of 86, with energy efficiency performance better than 86% of other buildings in its peer group. (The building is home to the American Medical Association’s national headquarters and significant tenants like BDO, Latham & Watkins and SmithBucklin.) The Riverview-managed tower at Atlanta's 100 Peachtree Street is BOMA 360 certified and in the process of acquiring LEED Gold, while its 411 East Wisconsin is the largest multi-tenanted LEED Gold building in Downtown Milwaukee, as well as having an Energy Star score of 91.

2) Driving Energy and Occupancy Costs Down


Jeff notes tenants take occupancy costs into consideration before leasing, and sustainability certifications like those mentioned above help quantify how much an owner’s sustainability efforts have contributed to a reduction in operating costs. For instance, Riverview recently replaced all the lighting in 411 East Wisconsin’s (above) common areas with LED lighting and is currently undertaking chiller replacements and retrofits with a benchmark of saving a minimum of 20% in energy costs.

3) Having Robust Connectivity


The conversion of many tenants to cloud computing is also helping cut occupancy costs, since more rely on off-site servers for their IT needs, thus reducing building energy usage. Susan says making a property efficient for cloud computing means making sure the building has multiple fiber entry points and risers, as well as distributed antenna systems that enable the receipt of strong signals from multiple wireless and cellular carriers so tenants can get a phone signal no matter where they are in the building.

It also requires high-speed connections with many different carriers and the ability to add more as technology advances. For instance, AMA Plaza currently supports AT&T, Cogent, Comcast, RCN, Level 3 and Zayo Group connections (WiredScore measures a building's level of connectivity). 100 Peachtree was the first in Atlanta to achieve Wired Gold certification, and the 411 Wisconsin is aiming to be the first in Milwaukee to achieve the certification.

4) Providing a Strong IP Backbone


Above, AMA Plaza. Building owners also need a state-of-the-art energy management system to maximize the energy sustainability of a property. That means these properties need an Internet protocol (IP) fiber backbone in order for the system to visualize building energy use on a second-by-second basis, allowing management to monitor and control energy costs in real time and provide access for tenant applications, HVAC, security and surveillance systems, and tenant access systems. “Your buildings need to be plug and play, and you need to be ahead of tenant technology needs," Susan says.