Two Years In With OSHA’s Rope Descent Systems Rule Change — What We’ve Learned

By Terry McDonald, S.E., P.E, Klein & Hoffman

Across Chicagoland it’s a common sight to see window washers perched on the sides of the city’s buildings, sometime hundreds of feet above the street, at work cleaning the windows and glass façades of the city’s skyline. For the past 18 months, building owners and managers first learned about and then implemented the changes in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Final Ruling for Façade Access Equipment for General Industry — as it related to window cleaning.  What issues have surfaced as the rules were implemented?

As BOMA members learned, the ruling contained numerous regulatory updates but two sections impacted nearly every building in the Chicagoland area.  The first was the requirement  for owners to provide compliant anchorages to allow for rope descent systems (RDS), also known as bosun’s chairs, which is the most common technique for window cleaners (OSHA 1910.27(b)). This owner requirement is not stipulated for anchors used for construction purposes.

The second update was defining when fall protection is necessary along edges of low-slope roofs (OSHA 1910.28(b)(13)).

In brief, the key rule changes are:

  • Requirement of anchorage and certification of anchorage.
  • Establishment of zones based on a worker’s proximity to a roof edge and the stipulated safety measures of that zone.

What are some of the issues that building owners and property managers have encountered since implementation of the rule began?

  1. Qualified Consultants.  While difficult to find, it is recommended that owners and property managers identify qualified consultants who understand the various nuances of OSHA and can provide practical solutions.  The consultant will need to understand the design load requirements and the behavior of the existing building structure to develop the proper anchorage design.  The design should include anchors that provide adequate coverage for both rope descent and fall protection, while maintaining efficiency for the end user.
  2. Qualified Installers. Qualified installers are a must and those installers need to be prepared to deal with a range of issues.  Sometimes the rooftop conditions are not as expected.  In addition, older buildings may not have a complete set of the original structural drawings.  Once the roof is opened to install the anchor points, thick insulation or topping slab may be discovered.  To avoid surprises, some exploratory work may be needed to determine what is required to ensure a proper installation and avoid costly change orders.
  3. Inspection/Testing. For some building owners and property managers, the frequency of inspection and certification of the anchors is confusing.  A qualified consultant must certify each anchorage at least every ten years, usually by a physical load test of 5,000 pounds.  Additionally,  OSHA states a qualified person must visually inspect each anchorage annually.  Proof of certification in writing is to be submitted to the vendor prior to usage. If your building does not have compliant anchorages — or no anchors at all — new anchorages will need to be designed, installed and certified.
  4. Unbudgeted Expense. The lack of compliant anchorages, underperforming anchorages or no anchors is not uncommon especially for older buildings.  Addressing the issue can require a significant expenditure that may not be budgeted.  In that scenario, some building owners and property managers have suspended the window cleaning and live with dirty windows until the funds for the project can be allocated.

In our experience, there has been a quick and widespread response from Chicago area building owners to comply with the rule changes while other regions have not acted as rapidly.  As more of these systems are installed, updated, upgraded and certified, it’s hoped that the days when a window cleaner tied off to an air conditioning condenser, a vent, a gate or even conduit have passed into forgotten history.

Terry McDonald, S.E., P.E.  is an associate principal and a senior structural engineer at Klein & Hoffman, structural engineers and architects, and BOMA/Chicago member.

 

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BOMA/Chicago Education Committee Profile

By Susan Hammer, BOMA/Chicago Education Committee Chair and Vice President/General Manager at AMA Plaza

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The BOMA/Chicago Education Committee

Sir Isaac Newton once said: “What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”  This philosophy is what drives BOMA/Chicago’s Education Committee to develop diverse and engaging education programs for BOMA/Chicago members.

BOMA/Chicago’s Education Committee is made up of a group of seasoned professionals – both Building and Affiliate Members – who are committed to education and professional development.  The group’s mindset is that education creates value for the real estate industry and serves as the foundation for future leaders, innovators and teachers. Education also increases personal satisfaction and is a tangible way to measure achievement, while providing avenues for personal and professional growth and increasing credibility, respect and acceptance.

With a focus on designation courses, educational scholarships, Lunch & Learn programs and professional development, the Committee is always seeking out ways to encourage continuing education of building professionals on all experience levels. Over the last year, the committee has promoted designation programs to industry leaders to share the benefits of investing in designation programs for their employees.

In 2018, five RPA/FMA/HP designation courses were offered, along with the Foundations of Real Estate program. Due to our renewed promotional efforts, we experienced an average increase in enrollment this year for RPA/FMA courses of 92 percent.

Even as the committee is committed to encouraging building owners and other decision makers to support RPA/FMA programs, it is still a work in progress.  In the meantime, there are so many emerging professionals who have shown a love for real estate and property management who want to keep increasing their knowledge and professional profile but are unable to pay for the courses personally.  By offering designation scholarships, a worthy applicant can receive a full RPA along with all of the recognition of receiving the scholarship.

Over the years, applications for the designation scholarships have increased as more people have become aware of the benefits. An average of eight applications were reviewed in each of the last six years. In total, we have awarded eight Full Designation Scholarships, in addition to awarding fourteen Single Designation Course Scholarships since 2008. The Ollie Scholarship, which started in 2006, has been awarded to sixteen people. Several past recipients of this scholarship are leaders in their firms and in the Chicago real estate community, including chairing BOMA/Chicago committees.

Our Lunch & Learn programs, hosted by Affiliate Members, provide opportunities for important interactions between affiliates members and property managers and leverages the expertise of the affiliates to bring awareness of new technologies, trends, strategies, regulations and best practices. These programs are free for all members to attend and allow Affiliate Members an opportunity to share best practices and industry knowledge with our Building Members.

This year, we hosted nine Lunch & Learn programs, and experienced a 10 percent increase in attendance compared to last year. Two of our Lunch & Learn programs – BOMA 2017 Building Measurement Standards and Construction Drawings 101 – each drew over 70 attendees. Other topics included Workplace Violence Prevention, Parking repair programs, a BOMA 360 seminar and emotional intelligence.

Another Lunch & Learn seminar and regular favorite is the TOBY Best Practices program that encourages participation in the TOBY Awards Program. Over 300 people have attended this seminar since its inception in 2012. This seminar was also recognized by BOMA International and presented at the BOMA Conference in San Antonio this past year with over 80 people in attendance and will be reprised at the Conference in Salt Lake City in 2019.

All Affiliate Members are encouraged to apply to host a Lunch & Learn seminar. The Committee reviews every application to ensure the topic is relevant and the material is relatable to the audience. We also provide recommendations to the affiliates about ways to improve the presentation and help to customize the material to the audience.

The committee also makes efforts to grow our offerings year after year. This past year we have expanded from traditional presentations to providing seminars in relationship management and promoting new courses and designations such as the High Performance (HP) courses. And in May 2018, the committee launched a voluntary mentorship program for enrolled RPA/FMA designation students. The program matched four RPA/FMA students with RPA/FMA recipients with the following goals in mind: keeping students on track, working through challenges, maintaining program engagement and knowledge sharing.

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Susan Hammer, BOMA/Chicago Education Committee Chair

As we all look to 2019, we are reaching out to BOMA/Chicago Board members and other industry leaders to solicit feedback about additional hot topics of interest for members. One such topics we hear about often is the development of curated programs for tenants. In the perpetual goal to retain and attract tenants, commercial real estate appears to be moving beyond the amenities race to finding unique ways to engage and involve tenants. Building occupants are becoming a community in and of itself and innovative programming is driving the culture.

Other future topics may center around how the current political climate – local, state, national and international will impact operations and investment activity. Finally, there will always be a new technology, idea, or service that will arise that will help property management teams operate buildings more efficiently and safely – even though it is not yet apparent, we need to be on the alert to present it to our members as quickly as it becomes known.

The Education Committee welcomes new ideas and feedback from all of our members. What topics are you interested in learning more about in 2019? Leave a reply below to tell us more.

 

 

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Illinois Legislative Preview

By Stephen S. Morrill, Principal of Morrill & Fiedler LLC (M&F)

Policy decisions made in Springfield greatly impact the commercial office industry and BOMA/Chicago members have an ongoing interest in Illinois election outcomes.  As a follow up to last week’s blog about the 2018 Illinois election results, this discussion will provide insight into how the election outcomes will shape the Illinois General Assembly’s agenda and future political landscape.

Veto Session Update

The first week of 2018 fall veto session began on Tuesday, November 13 and ran through Thursday, November 15; the second week will be held from November 27 through 29.  In 2018, Governor Rauner issued a total or amendatory veto to 83 pieces of legislation.  Legislative leaders and senior staff previously suggested that the veto session would focus on its key purpose of considering gubernatorial vetoes, which proved correct in its first week, where 39 vetoes were overridden either the House or the Senate.  Overrides will now “switch” houses to be voted on by the second chamber.  Substantive legislation may be taken up on a case-by-case basis, but the majority of new substantive legislation is likely to be delayed until either the January “lame duck” session (expected to be scheduled sometime between January 1, 2019 and the inauguration of the 101st General Assembly on January 9, 2019) or the 2019 spring session.

Governor-elect Pritzker will be focusing his transition into the Office of the Governor.  Pritzker has announced his Transition Committee and his administration’s Chief of Staff.  Serving as his Transition Committee Chair is Lieutenant Governor-elect Juliana Stratton and campaign manager Anne Caprara will serve as Chief of Staff.  As part of the process, the Transition Committee will likely begin vetting potential candidates to serve as new state agency heads (which require Senate confirmation), members of state boards and commissions (many of which require Senate confirmation), new administration and agency general counsels, and policy and legislative staff, among other personnel decisions.  The Transition Committee will also advise on budget issues and relationship-building in the legislature.  We will continue to monitor key personnel identified by the Pritzker Transition team for key roles in state agencies and the administrative cabinet.

Lame Duck Session Preview

The “lame duck” session refers to legislative session that occurs after new legislators have been elected, but before they begin their terms in a newly convened General Assembly.  New legislators will be inaugurated at 12 pm on January 9, 2019.  If scheduled as anticipated, a “lame duck” session will occur sometime between January 1, 2019 and the inauguration on January 9, 2019, and it will be the last time that out-going legislators will vote on legislation.  The primary difference between the fall veto session and the lame duck session is that all legislation advanced during the lame duck session (including those with an immediate effective date) only requires a simple majority vote for passage (bills with an immediate effective date advanced during the veto session require super-majority votes to advance).  With at least 36 lame duck legislators able to be “free agents” regarding legislation, it is anticipated the 100th General Assembly may consider major legislation on multiple issues – the most likely being a capital infrastructure program with an associated source(s) of revenue.

2019 Spring Session Preview

While the four legislative leaders are likely to remain the same, there will be significant changes in the make-up of the leadership teams given the significant legislative retirements in all four caucuses.  Further, both chambers will need to revise the rules for each chamber, determine the number of substantive committees, and the chair/spokesman for each committee (the House will have a more difficult adjustment given the greater shift in membership).

Additionally, it is anticipated that the issues likely to dominate the 2019 session include, but are not limited to: (a) the FY20 budget – Pritzker’s initial state budget – and whether it includes any new income or sales taxes; (b) a capital infrastructure program – targeted to be significant in size, but also requires a stable funding source; (c) gaming expansion/sports betting; (d) legalization of recreational marijuana; (e) pension reform; (f) energy procurement standards; and (g) a constitutional amendment to authorize a graduated income tax.  Governor-elect Pritzker recently stated that he will not, in 2019, seek to enact a “pseudo graduated income tax” via state legislation – instead focusing on the constitutional amendment.  It is also expected that Governor-elect Pritzker and the Democratic legislative leaders will begin initial discussions on the upcoming legislative redistricting map process that must be adopted in 2020.

BOMA/Chicago’s legislative team will be involved in the General Assembly at every stage and during every session.  Members, be sure to follow the Advocate e-newsletter for updates from Springfield.

M&F has represented BOMA/Chicago before Illinois state government for many years and of counsel at Barnes & Thornburg LLP.  Also contributing to this article are Curt Fiedler, Gary Hannig, Chuck Hartke and Hannah Smith, Morrill’s colleagues at M&F. 

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Help Us Fight Hunger this Holiday Season

Make a Food or Financial Donation through December 7
By BOMA/Chicago

Each year, the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) provides meals for 1 in 6 residents living in Cook County. This translates into 810,000+ men, women and children.

GCFD_WrapperFor those of us in the CRE industry, food insecurity may be a distant thought. Many of our business discussions, meetings and transactions occur over meals. But for many people across the Chicagoland area, planning the next meal is a stressful thought. Food is weighed on a scale of importance – the question is not which restaurant to try next, but whether or not to pay for food or utilities instead.

BOMA/Chicago helps the food insecure of Chicago answer that question by rallying behind the annual GCFD Holiday Food Drive. This year marks the tenth anniversary that we have partnered with the GCFD on this initiative. During these ten years, we have collected over 740,000 pounds of food. This year, 155 BOMA/Chicago buildings have united to reach of a goal of collecting 120,000 pounds through physical and financial donations. Our generous members and their building tenants demonstrate a passion year after year to help feed Chicagoland – and because of this, we expect to exceed our 120,000-pound goal.

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The JLL property management team at the Civic Opera Building (20 North Wacker).

We are only two weeks into the food drive and many buildings have already emptied their large donation barrels multiple times. This is the case for the Civic Opera building at 20 North Wacker (managed by JLL). Other BOMA/Chicago buildings are encouraging their tenants to host unique games and competitions to drive donations, such as the Harris Bank Building at 115 South LaSalle (managed by Hines). The Hines management team has shared great ideas with their tenants as a way to increase donations, such as Denim Days and hosting a lottery.

You can lend a helping hand by making a donation through December 7. If you want to make a physical or financial donation, visit this webpage to find a list of participating locations. You can drop of food donations at building lobbies or click on a building link to make a financial donation ($1 =3.6 pounds; $1 = 3 meals). Financial contributions are recommended, as the GCFD is able to buy nutritious food in bulk at lower prices.

For more information about the drive, including tips to engage tenants, please visit our website: https://www.bomachicago.org/get-involved/gcfd-food-drive

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Illinois 2018 General Election Review

By Stephen S. Morrill, Principal of Morrill & Fiedler LLC (M&F)

The 2018 Illinois General Election was held earlier this month on Tuesday, November 6.  The anticipated “blue wave,” while not as impactful as originally predicted (at least in the U.S. Senate), still had a significant effect in Chicago, Cook County, and the surrounding Chicagoland suburban areas.  Voter turnout in Chicago and Cook County exceeded 55% of registered voters, and exit polls showed voters between the ages of 18-25 were the largest group of voters in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs – a first for a historically low-turnout population.  As in the 2018 primary election, DuPage County (and many other collar counties), saw a substantial increase in Democratic voter turnout.  This led to many Illinois GOP incumbents losing their re-election battles, while allowing the Democrats to sweep all statewide constitutional offices and increase their majorities in the Illinois House and Senate.

BOMA/Chicago members undoubtedly paid close attention to the 2018 state election, as legislative and regulatory activity profoundly impacts the commercial office industry.  With a host of tax- and energy-related proposals looming, this election produced the General Assembly that will confront a host of issues that may impact how commercial real estate is assessed for property tax purposes, how commercial office buildings shall be required to meet the life safety needs of tenants and the public, and how licensed commercial real estate professionals are best regulated.  With all that in mind, we review for the BOMA/Chicago community the results of the Illinois 2018 general election.

Race for Governor

In one of the most expensive gubernatorial races in U.S. history, Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker defeated first-term Governor Bruce Rauner 54%-39% to become the next Governor of Illinois.  In the following days, the Governor-elect has named a strongly bipartisan transition team including State Representative and Democratic Party of Illinois Executive Director Christian Mitchell, AFL-CIO President Mike Carrigan, former Republican Governor Jim Edgar, and former Minority Leader Senator Christine Radogno.  Pritzker will be sworn in as the 43rd Governor of Illinois on January 14 of next year.  New leadership in all (or virtually all) executive branch agencies is expected to be appointed in the months to come.

Candidate Sam McCann, a former state Senator running as a member of the new Conservative Party very narrowly failed to reach 5% of the vote, a threshold which would have guaranteed Conservative Party candidates a spot on the ballot in future elections.  Kash Jackson, a Libertarian, received 2.4% of the vote.

Other Statewide Offices

The Attorney General race, widely reported in the weeks leading up to the election to be the closest of all statewide races, saw Senator Kwame Raoul defeat Republican candidate Erika Harold 54%-43%.

Secretary of State Jesse White (D-Chicago) handily won his sixth term as Illinois Secretary of State with 64% of the vote.

Incumbent Comptroller Susana Mendoza received almost 60% of the vote over Republican challenger and former state Representative Darlene Senger.  Shortly after the election, Mendoza announced a highly-anticipated Chicago mayoral candidacy, adding her name to the now 16-candidate race.  Should she fail to be elected as Mayor of Chicago, she will retain her position as State Comptroller; should she win that race, her replacement as Comptroller will be appointed by the Governor.  City of Chicago elections will be held this coming February.

Michael Frerichs was elected to his second term as state Treasurer with 57% of the vote over Republican candidate Jim Dodge (39%) and Libertarian candidate Mike Leheney (3.4%).

Overview of Contests for State Legislature

While the majority of legislative contests have been made official, there remain a few races that have not been called and election officials will continue to process ballots (absentee, vote-by-mail, and provisional).  Regardless of yet-to-be-called races, the Democrats managed to increase their majorities in both the Senate and the House.  When the new General Assembly, Governor, and state constitutional officers are sworn in in early January, Democrats will have control of all three branches of Illinois government.  Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic Party of Illinois are credited for the high Democratic turnout seen in this election by placing strong focus on a vote-by-mail initiative, early voting messaging, and a “Get Out The Vote” campaign on election day.

The Illinois Senate Democrats, who previously held 37 seats to Republicans’ 22, increased their supermajority to 39 seats after flipping two Senate districts and defeating Republican incumbents Sen. Tom Rooney and Sen. Chris Nybo.  A third race, yet to be called, could see Republican Sen. Michael Connelly unseated by his Democratic opponent, further increasing the Senate Democrats’ veto-proof majority.  On Thursday, November 15, Sen. Nybo submitted his letter of resignation, effective immediately, indicating he will not return for the second week of veto session (November 27-29) or “lame duck” session in early January.

The House Democrats, who saw their supermajority slip away in the 2018 election, has regained a net of six seats (picking up seven seats while losing one).  This grows their caucus from 67 seats to 73, once again claiming a supermajority over House Republicans.  Republican members Peter Breen, Sheri Jesiel, Jerry Long, David Olsen, and Christine Winger were unseated by their Democratic challengers, while Democratic member Natalie Phelps-Finnie, appointed to replace Rep. Brandon Phelps upon his retirement, was defeated by Republican Patrick Windhorst.  Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) will serve the remainder of his current legislative term before taking over as Deputy Governor in the Pritzker administration in January.

Two House races remain undecided. The race between recently-appointed Republican Rep. Helene Miller Walsh and her Democratic challenger Mary Edly-Allen, has grown increasingly tight.  As vote-by-mail and absentee voter ballots continue to be tallied, Rep. Miller-Walsh, who led on election night, has a deficit of just three votes as of this writing.   Incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Morrison, up for his 5th term in the House, has yet to claim victory over Democratic candidate Maggie Trevor.  Rep. Morrison leads his opponent by just 72 votes.

As both chambers enter the 101st General Assembly with Democratic majorities, it is expected that the same legislative leaders will be re-elected to lead their respective caucuses: House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington).

As earlier reported, the 2018 election cycle in Illinois saw a record number of state legislators who either resigned, lost a primary election, or announced retirement or candidacy for a different elected office.  This caused a significant increase in the number of competitive legislative races, and will usher in a General Assembly with almost a quarter of members arriving as freshmen legislators.

Because the policy decisions made in Springfield greatly impact the commercial office industry, BOMA/Chicago members have an ongoing interest in Illinois election outcomes.  Hopefully this discussion has provided insight into the 2018 Illinois election outcomes and future political landscape.

> Stay tuned for a forthcoming blog from Steve Morrill focused on what to expect in the Illinois General Assembly in the weeks and months ahead.

M&F has represented BOMA/Chicago before Illinois state government for many years and of counsel at Barnes & Thornburg LLP.  Also contributing to this article are Curt Fiedler, Gary Hannig, Chuck Hartke and Hannah Smith, Morrill’s colleagues at M&F.  

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BOMA/Chicago PAC: Gearing Up for the City’s Big Elections

By Ron Tabaczynski, Director of Government Affairs, BOMA/Chicago

Right now, Chicago is approaching an important election year in 2019.

Fortunately, BOMA/Chicago will be ready.

Through its political action committee (PAC), BOMA/Chicago supports political candidates who have demonstrated leadership and sound decision-making on issues affecting commercial real estate. It’s crucial for us to align with candidates who will further the success of our industry in Chicago.

We’re off to a great start, thanks to member contributions to our PAC. However, we still have a long way to go to reach our goal. We’re guided by our strategy to help get us there. It’s one that we stand firmly behind as it’s remained steadfast – and successful – over the years.

We want to be fully transparent to our members, so here is a look at our strategy and how we approach our PAC.

Focus on Locations

The idea that “all politics are local” certainly rings true at the City Council level.  Tradition and practice put great emphasis on working with the ward aldermen. From a strategic standpoint, we want to put increased emphasis on building and maintaining our relationships with aldermen who represent wards where we have member buildings.

For example, when we are contacted by a member for a constituent-type concern – such as loading zones, streets, alleys, permits – we will be dealing one of these three aldermen. Therefore, it’s important to zero in on these specific wards in Chicago with our PAC efforts.

Commitment to Committees

There are several city council committees that should be BOMA/Chicago members’ collective radar. The most important of which is the Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards committee. This one is most likely to deliberate on issues most important to us. In fact, we often speak before this committee. Other priority committees are certainly of interest to us and our members, but to a slightly lesser degree.

Carefully Evaluate

As we are still several months away from candidacy filings for the February 2019 election, we can only speculate which aldermen will have contests – unless a challenger publicly declares.

At this point, there is no way for us to determine the significance of any opposition to those incumbent aldermen. Some aldermen have announced that they will not seek reelection, but others may wait until the filing deadline approached.

Once the candidacy of incumbents and challengers begin to solidify, we will evaluate each race on a case-by-case basis and determine their importance. We will base our analysis on the following criteria.

  • Past support of BOMA/Chicago positions
  • Likelihood of reelection, along with nature and circumstance of current race
  • Committee chairmanships and membership
  • Geographic importance
  • Accessibility and willingness to discuss BOMA/Chicago positions
  • Overall effectiveness and influence among colleagues
  • The advantage/disadvantage of having a particular candidate win or lose
  • Relationship to overall advocacy strategy

Working together with our partners and lobbyists, we rank races into high, medium, low, and opportunity levels of contributions.

Despite our best efforts to evaluate, politics can be unpredictable. Every election, there are always rumors that occasionally turn out to be true, while others remain unfounded. Some races are consistent, while others remain very fluid up until petition challenges are decided, which can be a few weeks before the election. Usually races will emerge that turn out to be surprises, while others that were expected to be very competitive contests fail to materialize. This is simply the nature of politics and the election cycle.

Throughout it all, our strategy remains consistent – even in non-election years. During those years, we concentrate on maintaining the relationships with the aldermen from key wards, as well as the key city council committee leadership and members.

From a timing standpoint, many campaigns kick off in September, so expect to start hearing from challengers in the coming weeks.

Importance of Political Advocacy

A strong political action committee (PAC) is essential to safeguard the success of the industry. PAC donations enable BOMA/Chicago to participate directly in the political process by supporting officials and candidates committed to advancing the interests of commercial real estate and our advocacy agenda.  The BOMA/Chicago PAC was formed as a state PAC under Illinois law in 1997.  It does not make contributions to Federal candidates. Federal candidates are supported through BOMA International’s BOMAPAC.

Whether it is to support state, county or city candidates, or federal candidates through BOMAPAC, we still need our members’ help to support our advocacy efforts.  To make a contribution, click here to download and complete the contribution form or get in touch via email at rtabaczynski@bomachicago.org.

 

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Gold Circle Awards Profile: 2018 Property Management Professional of the Year Heather Holderman [Part 2 of 2]

Heather Holderman, General Manager with CBRE at 353 North Clark, was named BOMA/Chicago’s 2018 Property Management Professional of the Year.

< Read Part 1 of Heather Holderman’s Profile.

CBRE


Over the last couple years, you’ve seen an increase in your building tenant survey score. Can you share any advice with other property managers about ways to improve tenant relations and overall satisfaction?

Cultivating relationships with tenants from the level of decision maker, facility manager and the administrative teams.  All these roles are critical to our success because each independently influence the perception of our service.  We maintain personal contact rather than solely communicating electronically, we strive for flexibility and make efforts to anticipate their needs or accommodate whenever possible.  Often it is the smaller gestures that don’t really have a financial impact that are the most memorable for a tenant.  We attempt to be a tenant’s partner in their business rather than a road block, and any services we can provide that makes them more efficient is a win for everyone involved.

Under your leadership, your tenants can take advantage of tenant amenities that include an art exhibition program, a newly refreshed fitness center and lobby, and a community fitness competition program. Can you share some predictions about new tenant amenities we’ll be seeing over the next ten or twenty years?

The amenity race will continue to evolve based on how occupants are utilizing their space and the type of culture they are looking to create at their places of business.  We see a lot of tenants looking to create a community within their corporate culture and a stronger emphasis on working in teams.  Programs that property managers can offer to promote a strong sense of community and be perceived as play or fun and are simplistic, are likely to continue to evolve.  It has been suggested that even a 10-minute work break playing ping pong with a colleague fosters more creativity.  This is fun for the employee and benefits the employer with greater productivity.

Additionally, any services that are easily accessible electronically via a cell phone application and prepared in advance or automatically to mitigate time waiting for services.  Some of these applications exist today such as food ordering apps, but similar applications from a building managed café or coffee kiosk as well as tailored delivery methods directly to the individual occupants.  Where these programs can be offered by building owners and managers, the overall perception of how the building is managed and the benefits it provides individual building occupants will be extremely positive.

What are some of the more innovative charitable initiatives you have sponsored at your building?

Some of our best recognition events have been in support of Earth Hour and Earth Day.  While all of the charitable organizations we support are intended to bring awareness, we have the unique opportunity to showcase all the inherent features of the building that directly impact the environment.  Our engineering team has constructed a model of the building with small pumps that demonstrates the infrastructure of the rain water harvesting system.  This is personal to our tenant base because they are learning about the physical features of the building they work in and it opens a dialogue for how they can contribute as individuals.  We also hosted an ice bucket challenge for one of our anchor tenants in support of one of their employees suffering from ALS.  We have also supported the Cystic Fibrosis foundation with practice stair climbs, which is a building wide effort and requires an intense amount of coordination to host a successful event.

What are some challenges you believe commercial building property managers should prepare for in the years ahead?

Densification and technology. The office layout with large perimeter offices dominating the window line are in the process of phase out.  Many office buildings were originally constructed to accommodate these historical layouts without considering new trends such as open ceilings for greater ceiling heights and sound attenuation.  Heating and cooling systems will be particularly challenged and demand for smaller spaces to conduct periodic confidential tasks or more formal meeting space will shift to the building owner to provide.  The infrastructure for an office building will also drastically change with less usable space allocated to house paper files or law libraries in exchange for digitized versions.  A robust tele/data system that is highly secured with redundancy will become a requirement.  Also, a shift to smarter buildings that operate with apps and that can “read” occupant behaviors.  For example, turnstiles that individually identify an occupant by their smart phone and grant access without swiping a badge or checking in, and upon registering that individual, preparing their respective work areas with task lighting and thermal comfort at varying times. Examples of personal touches such as utilizing GPS functions on cellular phones to determine individual’s proximity to the building and then automatically pre-ordering coffee from a building café that is prepared and paid for upon that individual’s arrival.  The coordination of such items without compromising core building functions will be a challenge to overcome.

Throughout your membership with BOMA/Chicago, what experiences stand out the most to you?

BOMA/Chicago is a strong advocate for issues impacting buildings owners and managers and it has been impressive to watch the success of that advocacy over the years.  I’m also impressed by the effort to engage in new initiatives such as MBCx and energy efficiency and educate members on methods that they may not have exposure to otherwise.  It is also comforting that I can rely on BOMA/Chicago to be a resource to matters affecting our industry.

What is your favorite BOMA/Chicago event and why?

The TOBY awards.  All of your colleagues, and perhaps even your competitors, gather in such a way that promotes goodwill and genuine camaraderie in the industry. It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of other buildings and their team members and it serves as motivation to be the best you can be in your respective roles.

What piece of advice would you share with our Emerging Leaders?

Dedication and a strong work ethic.  These are two attributes that will never go out of style.  Even if the outcome isn’t optimal or the answer is incorrect, it is always recognized when someone gives 110%.  Demonstrating that you care and learn from experiences so that one continues to evolve, and more than anything, being passionate about what you do will ensure long term success.

Given all your accomplishments, is there anything else would you like to accomplish in your career that you haven’t done so far?  

I would like to have a greater awareness of how our foreign counterparts approach the industry and how their culture impacts how they do business.  Participation in committees through BOMA/Chicago or within my own organization are a future goal. I would also like to obtain the prestigious TOBY award for our building and team that works so hard each day and are very deserving.

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