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BOMA 2017 Updated Office Standards: What Are They?

Today, we're sharing the newly revised office standards and rules of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA).

This is important because if you're involved in leasing office space, and you were able to include square footage, wouldn't you?

BOMA is a critical resource for property owners, managers, architects, contractors, and many others. They are the go-to standard for measuring floor space within your building. In addition, BOMA promotes consistent measurement of rentable square footage, the most important term for real estate leases.

Using their standards will help all participants in your real estate transactions.

Now, let's dive in.

Updated BOMA 2017 Office Standards

The world of real estate continues to evolve.

Trends in commercial real estate are in constant flux. That is why BOMA revises the standards once every five years. BOMA has been the standard for measuring office floor space since 1915. And right now, there is a growing demand for amenity-rich buildings.

The new BOMA 2017 Office Standard reflects the changes in your typical office building. In addition, it is congruent with the International Property Measurement Standard for Office Buildings.

Inclusion of Balconies, Covered Galleries, and Finished Rooftop Terraces

Commercial Real Estate tenants need to attract and retain talent.

Part of how they do this is to provide more amenities at work for their employees.

That is why BOMA now allows any exterior area used exclusively by the tenant and enjoyed by people to be included in the rentable square footage calculation.

Major Vertical Penetrations at Lowest Level Included in Rentable Area

Since the objective of BOMA is to provide a consistent rule of measure, major vertical penetrations at the lowest level of the building are included in the rentable area.

The lowest level of major vertical penetrations includes floor openings for elevators, escalators, stairs, pipe shafts, flues, and vertical ventilation ducts. Vertical service areas and mechanical shafts were included in the previous standard, but not vertical circulation areas like stairwells and elevator shafts.

This will allow an increase in rentable square footage for many buildings.

Amenity and Service Areas

A modification was set in place to the “Inter-Building Area” standard by BOMA.

This standard allocates rentable square footage to tenants for an entire floor or building. The revision allows leases to add rentable square footage to tenants that use these amenity and service areas. This alteration ensures tenants don’t pay for a space in the building they don’t use.

BOMA’s Inter-Building Area standard now intends to distribute area more equitably.

Public Pedestrian Thoroughfare

As mentioned, BOMA aims to provide a more precise and transparent standard.

Because of this, the new BOMA 2017 Office Standards remove public pedestrian thoroughfare in calculating rentable square footage. Public pedestrian thoroughfares are generally meant as the ground-level sidewalks around the edge of the building in which the public has free access and complimentary use.

While the new standard may decrease the rentable square footage for some office buildings, multiple-floor office buildings will still have benefits that exceed the loss here.

Capped Load Factor

The load factor breaks down the proportion of common area rent each tenant shares.

The new trend is having amenity areas such as outdoor spaces, fitness centers, conference rooms, and more. New common areas will bring up load factors, and some tenants may or may not want to pay for them. The new standard allows the load factor to be capped on a tenant-by-tenant basis.

This enables landlords to target specific tenants. And negotiate leases appropriate to their market.


In summary, BOMA’s 2017 updated standards are as follows:

⦁ Inclusion of Balconies, Covered Galleries, and Finished Rooftop Terraces

⦁ Major Vertical Penetrations at Lowest Level Included in Rentable Area

⦁ Amenity and Service Areas

⦁ Public Pedestrian Thoroughfare

⦁ Capped Load Factor

We hope this article was simple enough to give you a beautifully laid-out overview of the new updated standards.

These updated standards give you the tools to market your properties successfully. With all that said, if you’re having trouble assessing how much rentable square footage your buildings have, we feel for you.

One of the ways you can make this process so simple is by conducting Building Information Modeling (BIM). You can also look for BIM services a company can offer you. What you’re looking for is a BIM firm that specializes in BOMA and Lidar Scanning.

The Lidar uses eye-safe laser beams to create an accurate as-built condition of your building. It generates a 3D model digital representation of your commercial space. Most importantly, it helps you create a detailed BOMA drawing so that you can uncover your actual square footage. Using these, you’ll discover an average of 8% more rentable area.

If you would like to learn more about these BOMA drawings, click here.


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