Premier Security’s 5K for Missing Children


By: Jim Taff, CEO, Premier Security

Child abduction and exploitation is a very real and serious issue that occurs in many of America’s major cities, just like right here in Chicago. According to the FBI, there were over 460,000 reports of missing children in the United States during the year of 2015 entered into the National Crime Information Database.

Plain and simple, these numbers are staggering. Which is why Premier Security has decided to take a stand and support the efforts of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) by providing specialized security officer training to each of our over 1,000 employees in what to know for these types of crimes. But, we are also taking our support one step further. To help raise awareness of this very serious issue and to educate families on how to keep kids safe, we are hosting Chicago’s first 5K Run/Walk benefiting NCMEC.

On October 15, 2016, hundreds of families will gather together and run/walk to raise awareness and support NCMEC’s mission. Starting and finishing in DuSable Harbor, runners and walkers from throughout Illinois will block out the lakefront trail. The event will include a 5k Run and Walk, a Kid’s Dash, Face Painting, Bounce House, Kids IDing, Post Race Party and many other great activities for the entire family. Registration for this event is now open. We welcome anyone to join us who is willing to help raise awareness or learn ways that they can keep their children safe. We are extremely excited to be able to host such a worthwhile event and are looking forward to a very successful day!

Premier Security is a BOMA/Chicago Annual Premier Sponsor.

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Eight Strategies for TOBY Success

Achieving TOBY success on the local, regional and international levels can be quite a challenge, though the hard work and preparation– win or lose – results in stronger teams, greater collaboration and exceptional buildings. Industry leaders from BOMA/Chicago’s 2016 TOBY International winners, Susan Hammer, general manager for Riverview Realty Partners at AMA Plaza and Martin Huttenlocker, property manager for Sterling Bay at 564 West Randolph, share their winning TOBY competition strategies.

Read Susan and Martin’s eight TOBY tips and best practices below and consider applying for the 2017 local TOBY Award.

Get Stakeholder Buy-In

Susan: A successful TOBY campaign starts with stakeholder involvement. The owners, asset managers, tenants and vendors, as well as the on-site management staff, must be involved and passionate about the TOBY program. All team members should understand that participation in the TOBY competition increases value through market recognition while simultaneously creating team cohesion that lasts well beyond the TOBY competition itself.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

Susan: The TOBY competition is a process, and to be successful, proper planning is crucial. Rushing to clean-up or paint areas right before the inspection or slapping together a haphazard narrative is an obvious indication to the judges that the team did not have a thoughtful plan or desire to win. The TOBY competition is a serious undertaking, but the rewards received after creating a solid, thoughtful TOBY application and inspection protocols produce an indescribable sense of accomplishment.

Martin: Applying for a TOBY takes a lot of time and thought. Get focused early and meet with your team to discuss the story of your building and the aspects of your building that you want to highlight in your application.

Focus on the Present

Martin: Your TOBY application must highlight the current programs of your building, not future plans, amenities, etc. Meet with your team and brainstorm about all of your building’s accomplishments over the past year. Don’t focus on future plans or projects because this could take away from the amazing programs already in place.

Don’t Stray from TOBY Guidelines

Susan: The TOBY Entry Requirements and Guidelines must be followed as closely as possible when writing the narrative section. Organization is a key component here. Writing in accordance with the chronology in the guidelines will make it easier for the judges to check off each required component.  A missing section or a missing/incomplete attachment will result in a lower score.

Proof Read & Spell Check

Susan: Typographical and grammatical errors in the narrative leave a poor impression with the judges and may be the item which separates the first position from the second. Spell check should be used. Also ask several people to read the narrative to help ensure that errors are eliminated from the final application.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Susan: At the local level, the building inspection is the most important component. There is a limited amount of time for each tour, so the more organized and complete the tour is, the better impression will be made on the judges. Practice the inspection and the presentation in advance to identify areas which may still require attention or gaps in the presentation.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Martin: Be prepared to go off track. Inspection tours never go 100% as planned and judges can ask to see any room, closet, bathroom, etc. As you practice, have someone pretend to be a judge and think of all possible scenarios for the inspection. But, remember that judges will likely throw a curveball. Practicing in advance will help you be prepared for these curveballs.

Organize and Review Your Files

Martin: Review your files to ensure they are all complete and updated. Then organize them in one central location for the judges so you don’t waste their time searching for documents.

Susan: Make sure all of your team members are familiar with your required forms and documents and that they are prepared to answer questions and participate in describing components/programs of the building.

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What Exelon and ComEd Don’t Want You to Know

With electricity costs making up the first or second largest expense for BOMA/Chicago buildings, it’s crucial that we continue shedding light on Exelon and ComEd’s proposed legislation which would raise electricity rates a whopping $8 billion over the next ten years. BOMA/Chicago buildings alone – making up 5% of ComEd’s energy load – can expect to pay an increase of an estimated $385 million.

More than likely you don’t have time to pour through the tedious and complex legislation, so here are some basic facts that we suspect Exelon and ComEd don’t want you to know:

  1. Exelon is a publicly-traded, profitable company demanding a bailout. Buildings certainly don’t get a bailout, so why should a massive corporation that profited $2 billion last year and increased shareholder profits get one?
  2. Exelon’s plants have secured billions of dollars in contracts and subsidies. Despite claiming poor-performing nuclear plants, Exelon has secured over $4 billion in long-term contracts and subsidies for its nuclear plants.
  3. The numbers aren’t there now and won’t ever be if the rate increases are passed. Not only has Exelon failed to be forthcoming with all revenues at its nuclear plants, the rate increase proposal erodes public disclosure mandates and allows Exelon to keep ratepayer bailout money even if their nuclear plants are profitable. No trueup based on actual profitability would be required.
  4. ComEd will now profit from customer-funded sustainability incentives. Today ratepayers pay a 2% assessment on all electricity bills which is set aside in its entirety to fund or rebate various customer energy efficiency initiatives. This legislation would allow ComEd to profit through a “rate of return” when using dollars designated for energy efficiency – ultimately increasing costs to all customers.
  5. ComEd only makes money when electricity meters are spinning. Current law mandates that ComEd meet statutory goals for energy efficiency reductions – goals that ComEd has yet to actually achieve. The current statutory goal would be decimated, as this new legislation provides the utility with waivers to avoid meeting those requirements.
  6. Bottom Line: Chicago’s businesses will have to foot the bill. BOMA/Chicago buildings house more than 10,000 tenants who will ultimately pay the bill on top of a series of hefty property tax increase and fee increases the city has recently implemented . We have to wonder – how much more piling on will they tolerate?

BOMA/Chicago has begun a constructive dialogue directly with ComEd and Exelon regarding their proposed changes to energy policy in Illinois. As always, it is the goal of BOMA/Chicago to mitigate any potential threat to our members and ensure that any impacts are as minimal as possible.

>> Six Surprising Facts about the Exelon/ComEd Rate Increase Proposal

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Beeting the Summer Heat at 1KFulton

Next up in our series on sustainable rooftops and initiatives, we talk to Rachael Bruketta, Assistant Property Manager with Sterling Bay, who fills us in on 1000 West Fulton’s rooftop vegetable garden including maintenance, vegetable selection, environmental impact and tenant engagement.

What was the motivation to create a vegetable garden?

1KFulton strives to operate as efficiently as possible and we want to provide a healthy and enjoyable workspace for our building’s occupants. With a green roof already in place, we wanted to test our green thumbs and enhance our space with fresh, organic produce.

How did you build the vegetable garden?

We have a common roof deck on the seventh floor that’s accessible by all our tenants. The deck features planter beds with built-in irrigation and draining systems and previously contained native grasses and trees. With the help of our landscaper, we installed organic growing media and 384 plants into the beds. This was our first season of roof deck gardening, and we decided to install existing plants instead of seeds to bring a higher yield.

How did you work with your team initially to bring this concept into fruition?

1KFulton has had beehives on our roof deck for over a year, so we decided to decrease the travel time for our bees to pollinate! Additionally, our building team is very interested in sourcing products locally that we could also share with our tenants.

How did you decide which vegetables to plant?

Given that our building has great chefs and fantastic restaurants and dining areas, we chose plants they could use in their kitchens, including leafy greens and herbs. We also stayed away from tall plants like corn and beans so windy days don’t pose a threat.

How do you maintain the garden?

On days when we don’t have sufficient rainfall, we use our built-in irrigation to make sure the roof deck garden is properly watered. We work with our landscaper to maintain and weed the garden at least every other week. We also coordinate harvesting and cleaning of the produce with our landscaper prior to sharing with our tenants.

What’s the impact of your vegetable garden on the environment?

 1KFulton’s rooftop garden improves air quality, helps storm water management, reduces our building’s energy demand and reduces urban heat island effect.

Does the garden offer any ROI to the building?

Beyond providing an amenity for our tenants, we hope that our roof deck garden helps to increase the lifespan of our roof and that it will contribute to a reduction in running our HVAC.

What should other buildings consider if they want to build a vegetable garden?

For starters, make sure your roof space can handle the weight load of your garden and that your garden has enough space and a proper irrigation system to thrive. We also advise getting buy-in from your tenants regarding what kind of produce you grow in your space.

What other green features does your building feature?

In addition to composting and recycling programs, 1KFulton also has beehives and provides a shared bicycle program to all tenants.


What’s the Buzz at Beacon Capital Partners

How 20,000 Worms Transformed this Building 


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What’s the Buzz at Beacon Capital Partners?

In the second story in our series on sustainable rooftops and initiatives, we talk
to Al Scaramelli, Managing Director at Beacon Capital Partners about honey bees. As the director of sustainability programs, Mr. Scaramelli oversees Beacon’s energy and sustainability projects including bee hives built on Beacon-owned buildings’ rooftops across the country, including three in Chicago – 300 South Wacker, 515 North State Street and One North Dearborn.

alfred scaramelli beacon capital partnersHow did the idea to have bee hives on the rooftops of your buildings originate?

Al Scaramelli: Beacon’s President was in Europe on business and an office building he was visiting had bee hives on its rooftop. He brought the idea home with him. We discussed it internally and it immediately made sense to develop a program at all our properties.

How did you work with your team initially to bring the concept into fruition?

Al Scaramelli: We initially needed to get better educated on bee keeping in general, and specifically maintaining hives at office buildings in central business districts of major cities. I visited several hotels which already had hives, and did my due diligence on the process. We started with a trial hive at one of our high-rise office buildings in Boston and eventually rolled out the program to all of Beacon’s buildings on a nationwide basis.

What’s involved in maintaining the bee hives?

Al Scaramelli: Beacon has partnered with Boston-based Best Bees Company to coordinate our program on a nationwide basis. The company either has direct employees manage our hives, or they sub-contract with local bee keepers. The hives are inspected and maintained monthly.

Why is this initiative so important to the Beacon Capital?

Al Scaramelli: Beacon has always been an industry-leader in sustainability. In additional to maintaining our hives, Best Bees is a leading researcher of honey bees. Honey bees are important to our environment and they are suffering great losses from disease. The ability to study hives in urban locations increases understanding of the changing dynamics of honey bees and the health of honey bee hives. It’s the right thing to do.

How do you engage your tenants with the bees?

Al Scaramelli: Our tenants are very engaged in our bee program. We have sponsored Earth Day events around the hives, as well as Name the Queen Bee contests at each building. We also offer tours with bee keepers to those who want to see the hives up close and learn more. Finally, the honey from our harvests is shared with the tenants in each building. Beacon’s bees are good-natured and produce extra-sweet honey.

What impact do all your hives have on the environment?

Al Scaramelli: This is difficult to measure – we know we are helping to educate our tenants about bees. Honey bees are dying at an alarming rate, resulting in the potential for significant repercussions to our ecosystem and food supplies. Beacon’s support of research on honey bees is part of our long-term commitment to sustainability.

How many other buildings do you have with honey bees?

Al Scaramelli: In addition to our Chicago properties, Beacon has successfully rolled out its Beacon Bees program throughout its nationwide portfolio and plans to continue to do so in the future.

What other green features do your buildings feature?

Al Scaramelli: Beacon was recently awarded the U.S. EPA’s prestigious ENERGY STAR 2016 Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence award for the fifth year in a row. We have also LEED certified more than 35 million square feet of office properties in the U.S.  Among other initiatives, our buildings offer cutting-edge HVAC control software; clean fuel cell technology; purchased renewable energy for building use; green cleaning supplies; rooftop rain water collection; on-site electric car charges; recycling; and specialized indoor air filtration systems.


What’s the Buzz at Beacon Capital Partners

Beeting the Summer Heat at 1K Fulton

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Six Surprising Facts about the Exelon/ComEd Rate Increase Proposal

Exelon and ComEd have introduced a proposal (Senate Amendments 2 and 3 to SB 1585) to drastically raise commercial and residential electricity rates and add new charges that will total $7.7 billion over ten years. While Exelon and ComEd have claimed the rate increases and new charges are necessary to bailout its financially stressed nuclear plants and develop and enhance its “grid reliability,” it’s important that you understand the facts and adverse effects these changes would have on the commercial real estate industry and our tenants.

Below are six key reasons BOMA/Chicago has serious concerns regarding this new energy proposal by ComEd/Exelon:

  1. BOMA/Chicago buildings make up approximately 5% of ComEd’s energy load, and can expect to be billed an estimated $385 million of the projected increase over the ten-year span. This increase will be passed through to businesses across the city, adding to the ever-increasing cost of doing business here.
  2. Exelon made more than $2 billion in profits last year. Despite massive revenues and increased shareholder profits, the company has repeatedly threatened to shut down its Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear power plants if their bailout proposal doesn’t pass.
  3. Despite claiming poor-performing nuclear plants, recent power auctions garnered Exelon an extra $1.7 billion for its nuclear plants. Though Exelon claims their nuclear assets aren’t economically viable, they were a big winner in last year’s annual capacity auction, where power producers bid for long-term contracts to supply electricity.
  4. Exelon’s total rate hike proposal is estimated to be $7.7 billion over the next 10 years. The tax hike burden will fall on government, businesses and consumers.
  5. It’s estimated that ComEd and Exelon will secure $1 billion in profits over the next 10 years from the proposal. That doesn’t include the $2.6 billion subsidy Exelon’s struggling power plants would receive over that same time period.
  6. Customers have already paid twice for those nuclear plants. Not only did customers pay for construction of the same nuclear plants through regulated rates, we also paid over $10 billion in customer transition charges to the profitable publicly traded Exelon.

At this time, BOMA/Chicago is not convinced that all income from Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton plants has been included in determining whether those plants are profitable. On the cost side, ComEd and Exelon have only provided BOMA/Chicago with preliminary data to estimate the financial impacts to commercial customers.

BOMA/Chicago has begun a constructive dialogue directly with ComEd and Exelon regarding their proposed changes to energy policy in Illinois. As always, it is the goal of BOMA/Chicago to mitigate any potential threat to our members and ensure that any impacts are as minimal as possible.

>> What Exelon and ComEd Don’t Want You to Know

Posted in Advocacy, Energy, Green, Property Management, Utilities | Leave a comment

How 20,000 Worms Transformed this Building [Interview]

We’re kicking off a new series of stories focusing on sustainable rooftops and initiatives in a dialogue with AMA Plaza’s Assistant Property Manager Yordanos Ghdey with Riverview Realty Property Management. Yordanos walks us through the ins and outs of the AMA Plaza’s worm composting program housed on the 48th floor (20,000 worms, to be exact) – the city’s first large-scale commercial composting program.

How did the idea of worm composting originate?

Yordanos Ghdey: We began investigating the concept of composting in 2008, a time when commercial composting capability didn’t exist in the Chicago metropolitan area.  As our knowledge of sustainability increased, we discovered worm composting or vermicomposting through a worm composting consultant.  In 2009, we became the first large-scale commercial worm composting program in the City with 5,000 worms, which have since increased to 20,000.

What was involved in setting up a worm composting operation?

Yordanos Ghdey: We first had to understand the requirements to successfully host vermicomposting within the building, including the maintenance responsibilities, to ensure the worms’ environment is safe. We settled on a location in the 48th floor mechanical room that provides a comfortable and consistent tempered environment. Because the worms are self-managing, we simply needed a container, bedding and waste material to serve as food and nutrients. The worms at AMA Plaza are Eisenia Fetida worms – also known as red worms.

What kind of maintenance is involved?

Yordanos Ghdey: The maintenance is minimal. The management staff, along with an employee from Café 330, checks on the worms once or twice per week to evaluate their food consumption as well as their environment. If too much food is provided, it may become moldy which can create a vulnerable system open to infestations from other microorganisms. If food has become anaerobic, it may begin to smell, but the food is still edible by the worms so we simply add a generous amount of damp cardboard or paper shreddings over it and adjust the feeding schedule accordingly. We also check on the compost level at this time. If the amount of compost produced is not efficient, that is a warning sign that additional care is needed in the health of the worms.

Additionally,  third party assistance is provided by a vermicomposting professional once or twice a year – or on an as needed basis – to check on the worms and confirm the compost level the worms are producing is sufficient. We also have the support of our management team members and one of our Café’s employees who feed the worms dinner from left-over food and ensure their bedding and moisture content of their environment is adequate.

What food do the worms eat?

Yordanos Ghdey: The worms can digest any compostable foods including fruits and vegetables that are broken down into smaller pieces as well as coffee grinds. Shredded paper and cardboard are added to the top of the bin to provide a source of fiber, and foster a dark and moist environment which discourages fruit flies. We also add coconut shreddings to provide additional nutrients in the event the compost is too thick or in need of supplementary moisture. They should not be fed meat, poultry, fish, dairy, junk food or any fruits that are high in citrus such as oranges, limes and lemons. Non–biodegradable materials should never enter the bin. The worms eat about 5,200 pounds of food a year.

Why is this initiative so important to the AMA Plaza?

Yordanos Ghdey: Not only does composting connect the office environment to the natural environment, it also promotes healthier plant growth in our plaza plant beds. The castings of the worms, which are essentially the     compost, have high water retention which is beneficial in the event of a dry spell. The compost also has a slow nutrition release meaning the nutrients are released slowly so the plants receive what they need over a period of time. In comparison, chemical fertilizers oversaturate plants with a large amount of nutrients at once. When it rains, the nutrients are washed out of the soil and chemicals can seep into drinking water pipes.

How do you use your compost?

Yordanos Ghdey: Compost is easily removed from the bottom of the bin because the worms are drawn towards the top where the food source is located. Once the compost falls to the bottom of the bin, we remove it and store it for our outdoor landscaping. When the flowers are replaced in the spring, summer, and fall, the compost is mixed with the soil to provide an organic soil conditioner as well as a natural fertilizer.

What other green features does your building feature?

Yordanos Ghdey: We have several green initiatives here at AMA Plaza and are proud to be leaders within the City of Chicago with many of them.  We offer a robust recycling program which includes complimentary battery and electronic waste recycling. Food composting is also offered within tenant spaces which we operate on a weekly schedule to make the concept much easier on the tenants and in return, increase participation.  Other features include a 6,500 square foot vegetated roof, green cleaning program; water conservation programs, closed-loop paper and product purchasing, traffic reduction initiatives and a materials re-use procedure.

What are some considerations for other buildings who want to implement worm composing?

Yordanos Ghdey: The initial set-up for the worms is minimal, and we were able to use food and other materials recycled from the building, so it is a very low-cost program.

The bin, which is self-contained and odorless, is well ventilated and the worms are very aware of the size of the bin they are in. Because worms are hermaphroditic and can produce a cocoon every 7 to 10 days, one would think they would quickly overpopulate, however, they have an innate ability to control their population. Availability of food, size of their bin and the fouling of their environment decreases reproduction.

Commercial composting does have additional costs for bio-bags (which hold the material and degrade along with the organic material) and for removal.  This cost is somewhat offset by a reduction in waste removed from the property.

How do you involve your tenants with composting?

Yordanos Ghdey: Due to the smaller scale of worm composting, tenants are not directly involved with that program. Tenants are made aware of the program and images are shared on social media and the lobby slides. In 2014, we hosted an event to introduce tenants to a larger scale food composting process and benefits, and invited them to participate. We also provided incentives in collaboration with Waste Management, which handles the food compost pick-up for the building. Once tenants realized how simple the process is and that it does not require much effort on their part, they were very open to the idea. We currently have eight companies composting within the building, including the management office and the hotel. We continue to engage our tenants through education, tours and presentations.


What’s the Buzz at Beacon Capital Partners

Beeting the Summer Heat at 1K Fulton

Posted in CRE Trends, Green, Property Management, Tenant Relations | Leave a comment