Starting a class in the middle of a pandemic was not any property professional’s plan. However, those that had begun or decided to begin the BOMI High Performance designation (BOMI-HP) are finding unexpected value from their chosen course. The three-course program is designed to train commercial real estate professionals to create, lead, and obtain investment on sustainable initiatives. The course prepares professionals across all segments and markets.
With many buildings carrying a lower occupancy than before, energy-efficiency has been an important topic. Technology has become paramount in monitoring energy usage during re-occupancy and maintaining energy savings. The BOMI-HP program’s focus on sustainability and technology has helped students like Senior Property Manager Sonia Zamora with Akridge in Washington, D.C., be well equipped to use new systems.
“This subject of high performance is important for the simple reason that right now not all buildings are occupied at a normal level, we can use a lot of this technology to save electricity, to run our buildings more efficiently considering the occupancy levels we are experiencing,” Zamora said.
The health and safety of tenants have been of high importance when it comes to re-occupancy efforts. Judi Sponsel, a senior property manager with America’s Capital Partners in Atlanta, said that in general, high-performance buildings were well prepared for this emphasis.
“A high-performance building will be functioning at a more efficient level during these difficult times which helps reduce operating costs and increases occupant health and safety,” Sponsel said.
This theme of the past few months is flexibility. Being able to adjust to situations like this is important. With the new normal being an unknown entity, property managers need to approach their job with adjustment in mind.
“One of the things I have learned is that we need to be flexible. We need to be accommodating to different situations and scenarios,” Zamora said. “We need to be mindful that we oversee these assets and that we need to be careful of how we are doing that.”
The BOMI-HP designation teaches more than sustainability practices, it teaches leadership. Chonte’ Martin, facility management director of operations with the City of Atlanta, said this class allowed her to better present to her stakeholders concerning operating costs.
“You have to be able to present business cases. You have to understand from the investor’s and the owner’s side,” Martin said. Zamora also found the experience of taking the classes to be valuable as well as the content. She said having a community of professionals outside of her workplace was useful for idea generation and a sense of togetherness. She said she appreciated the chance to innovate on subjects other than COVID-19.
“ I was thankful that we could talk about something else and engage in other conversations that were not related to what was happening at the time,” Zamora said.
Property managers with the BOMI-HP designation are trained to use this time to look forward. Sponsel said that this has been a perfect time for professionals to research solutions for the future to make their building more efficient and for decreasing operating costs.
“Once the BOMI-HP designation is achieved, it is exciting to present forward-thinking ideas and solutions to your peers and upper management,” Sponsel said. “You will have the skills to create a presentation that differentiates high-performance investments from simply maintaining current maintenance procedures.”
The experience of collaboration during the program can reset a lot of property professionals’ way of thinking. Chonte said that she found value in being able to discuss the lessons with other professionals in her industry.
“You have your textbook and you know what is being taught, but the experience levels of your various peers within your group helps to create forward-thinking and innovation within the peer group,” Martin said. “It’s almost like you are benchmarking within the class.”
One of the biggest sustainability and high-performance initiatives that have been taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic is the increased use of technology both from a systems monitoring and work-from-home standpoint. The BOMI-HP designation instructs on technology use and cutting-edge resources.
Zamora said that she has appreciated being well-equipped to handle the new technology emphasis occuring in the industry.
“I think COVID-19 has brought that out in the forefront. I think now people have more of an urgency to have them,” Zamora said. “I think people are starting to see the benefits of having all of this technology available to you.”
While education and sustainability may not have been on the front of people’s minds the past few months, their uses go far beyond the classroom and are essential to navigating the new normal. BOMI-HP graduates are going to be equipped to be leaders during this pandemic and beyond.