Being a founding member of the IPMS Coalition and since the publication of the IPMS Offices Standard, we've begun the task of measuring all our buildings, locally and internationally, against the Standard, starting with our UK headquarters in London.

RICS headquarters, Parliament Square, London, HQ

Why IPMS is important for our buildings

It's a fact that, if you measure a building using one of five different currently used building measurement standards, a 10,000ft2 floor space can lose nearly a quarter of its area depending on which system is used to measure it.

We operate in seven major regions around the world, with a portfolio of over 50 offices and buildings totaling in excess of 12,250 square feet of office space – it's a sizeable portfolio to manage.

Headquartered in London on Great George Street, Parliament Square, this listed building houses the RICS library and a business centre for use by our professionals.Diagram showing floor space in five different measuring systems

Implementing IPMS to measure RICS HQ

For me, it was dual purpose. We wanted to be setting an example to RICS Professionals, but also, as a member of the Facilities Management department, there are some real advantages of using IPMS over current measurement formats, not least to do with energy. More and more FMs are becoming accountable for the operational costs of their offices and they need to be able to compare their properties in a sensible way. There’s no real way of doing that using local standards against a global property portfolio.

RICS hired the services of building and property surveyors, Malcolm Hollis, to begin the process of measuring its property portfolio against the new standard.

RICS approached us with a view to helping them understand their portfolio of offices around the world. At this stage, we have only measured a sample of those offices – the main Headquarters in Parliament Square, the offices in Coventry and in Edinburgh and the ones in Frankfurt and Brussels.

We wanted to know how one space compares to an office somewhere else around the world. So when it comes down to using the space, how effective is the information we have, do we understand occupancy levels and how that interacts with local legislation. So, if we’ve got an office in Germany, how do we know that we’re conforming to the working regulations about how much space we need for the number of people we have, and a ratio of square meterage to personal occupation. So as well as being able to compare like-for-like between different countries, it’s also about making sure we have got accurate records for that particular asset so we can use the information better and more effectively.

In terms of energy use, IPMS 2 has proven to be the most beneficial method. The limitations to using IPMS 3  – Offices is that areas of a property containing standard facilities, such as WCs, are excluded.

These are  likely to be included in the scope of an Energy Management System, and compliance undertakings such as  energy performance certificates and requirements of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme Regulations 2014.

Using IPMS2, each building component is measured, and an energy survey can therefore identify energy use in each component with a view to assessing the property components being ranked in terms of significance. Indeed, it is the recommendation of the energy auditor that energy legislation and standards take the way a building is measured into account, recommending IPMS2 as the preferred approach.

Potentially we could use it in a number of things – ISO 50001, various energy audits, Energy Performance Certificates. There are quite a large range of areas that it could be used in.

Table showing energy used against IPMS data and RICS Code of Measuring Practice definitions

The process

In terms of the measurement exercise we have the surveyor attend each building to undertake measurements on site and then produce plans and subsequent areas from those plans. Not only are those plans useful for calculating the areas but they can also be used in the future for space planning, for fire insurance valuation, or if the owner needs to grow the space as well, depending on how many people are in the offices.

The two main UK-based buildings that have been measured thus far for RICS are the main headquarters in Parliament Square, London, and the main Complex in Coventry.

The building that has seen the biggest discrepancy between the old standard and the new is the HQ in London (see figure 2).

This is due to how the building is made up. Because of the nature of its construction, it’s got very thick structural walls that hold up the building rather than columns. With the old Standard you wouldn’t measure that space, but with the new international standard you do measure that space.

You make an assessment of that space so that a different value or different rent can then be applied to that. So as soon as you include all that space, you’re increasing the reported size of that building, although the building hasn’t changed in size. It shouldn’t affect the value or the rent or an insurance of the building just because the building has increased in size because you then have to look at the different values of those different spaces.”

Diagram showing RICS HQ in London – first floor

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