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CSI Conference 2022—Peering Into the Future: Prepare for Impact

By Peter Kray posted 07-06-2022 02:08 PM

The keynote speaker at the CSI Conference in Denver this October will be Henry Chamberlain, president and chief operating officer of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International. His presentation, “Peering Into the Future: Prepare for Impact,” will focus on the current and emerging architecture, engineering, construction, and owner (AECO) industry.

Chamberlain brings a wealth of information to the topic based on his professional experience as well as his affiliation with BOMA, the leading trade association for commercial real estate professionals. The organization represents the owners, managers, service providers, and other property professionals of all commercial building types, including office, industrial, medical, corporate, and mixed-use.

“We represent 86 US local associations and 19 global affiliates,” Chamberlain said. “BOMA International is the partner that individuals in the commercial real estate industry choose so they can maximize value for their career, organization, and assets. Its mission is to advance a vibrant commercial real estate industry through advocacy, influence, and knowledge.”

So, with the management teams, you really oversee the entire life cycle of the buildings?

When you talk about our relationship with AECO professionals, we’re the folks who are running the buildings, working with engineering on how the buildings are going to operate, bringing the technology in capital budgeting, and of course, new construction. We work with those teams over the course of the building's life. The average building in the United States is 40 years old, so there’s also a lot of rehabilitation and operational issues involved.

A quarter of the building stock in this country is 60 years old or older, which equates to4 or 5 billion square feet of space that we have to figure out what to do with in terms of potentially repurposing or renovating. And the big conversation now is carbon reduction, especially with all that embedded carbon. The question is, do you renovate those buildings, or take them down and build something new? That’s a big conversation on the environmental side right now.

What are some of the key takeaways and insight your presentation will provide for the people in the audience?

People are going to understand more the implications of the trends that building owners are considering in terms of what their portfolios are going to look like in the future and where the investment dollars are going. I think it’s going to be somewhat eye-opening for the project teams really thinking about those trends as they're looking at the owners in the future business.

The presentation will cover workforce development, the whole environmental and social corporate governance (ESG) side, and how the investment dollars owners are working with are focusing on ESG. I’ll also discuss the importance of resilient design, which is becoming a bigger factor for folks not only with existing building stock but also for future development. I think all those areas will be interesting for folks asking, ‘When we’re looking at our future business, what are the things our clients are going be asking us to solve with our design? What kinds of buildings are we going be building?’

What are some of the key impacts the pandemic has had on the trends you’ll be talking about?

I think it's accelerated a lot of different trends. Certainly one of those topics is ESG. We’ve historically been very involved in energy efficiency in creating high-performance buildings. That’s being converted now to carbon and carbon reduction impact on the environment. It’s become a much more prominent consideration across portfolios with institutional investors. They want to work with companies that are responsible in an ESG kind of way.

Another question is how people going to use those buildings. If tele-work is going to be a permanent part of the future, how do you create those very productive work environments? People are looking for different experiences to create high-performance workplaces. For years we’ve been looking for more outside air, more light, and more tying into our communities. That’s accelerated as part of what people are expecting in their buildings. Then, of course, how do you leverage up the technology? How people are defining high-performance buildings is driving changes, not only in existing properties but new construction as well.

One of some of the other trends you’d like to highlight, especially in terms of their impact on the future?

People are also looking at the impact of stronger weather patterns, so resilient design is extremely important for folks going forward. Insurance rates are going up across the country, particularly on the coasts, which tend to have bigger storms. So, trends include a bigger focus on resilience and high performance, but dovetailing that is health and wellness.

People want to come back to properties where they feel safe, where they feel healthier. In active design, there is the feeling that if we’d been healthier going into the pandemic, maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad. So again, I see trends that entail more outside air and light—perhaps opening up stairwells for people to have more room to walk around, for example. That includes other health-focused features such as all the bike paths that are going in. More and more businesses will provide a shower in their building so people can take advantage of the outdoor environment, then clean up before they get back to work. The health and wellness piece has really been a game changer in a lot of markets.

Anything else?

The workforce is getting younger. The Boomers are retiring. And there’s a real focus on diversity that accelerated through this pandemic. The workforce needs to become more diverse. We need to recruit the talent of the future. That’s going to be part of our commercial real estate workforce. The demographics of the country are changing, and we need to reflect the communities we're doing business in.

I’m looking forward to the conference because we really like the interface and the dialogue on all these subjects. There should be more connection between the owner crowd and the AEC community. I think the more we have of these business discussions, the better planning that can take place.