When Evaluating Office Space, These Five Metrics Still Matter

While just about every tenant still looks at square footage and price, metrics like LEED rating, amenity package and transit access are becoming more important. However, looking at these newer metrics while ignoring classic office metrics can be a recipe for a space that works on paper but doesn’t quite fit in the real world. Here are five office metrics that you should still be considering — even if no one else is talking about them.

Glass Line

One of the hot buzzwords in office space is “natural light.” Outside light improves employee health and productivity, lowers energy cost for lighting and helps to create a cool, open vibe. One of the best ways to measure the potential availability of natural light is to measure the space’s glass line. This metric tells you how many linear feet of your space’s exterior has windows. For example, two spaces both measuring 10,000 SF can have completely different linear feet of glass line depending on the geometry of the spaces and the location of the floor.

Glass line is one of the old-time office metrics behind the most dynamic modern spaces.

Parking Ratio

Based on all of the hype about public transit and walk-and bike-friendly workspaces, parking ratio might seem like one of the most obsolete office metrics out there. However, a simple drive on most highways serving office areas at rush hour confirms one simple thing: most people in most cities drive to work. While the automobile industry is changing and companies like Uber and Lyft are making car ownership less necessary, people are still buying cars, trucks and SUVs and driving themselves to work. As such, look for a building with the right parking ratio for your company’s unique blend of commuting styles.

Load Factor or Common Area Factor

The dirty little secret of amenity-laden buildings is that those amenities aren’t free. Instead, they get built into your space as a part of the load factor, also called the common area factor. The load factor is how the landlord charges you for your share of all of the shared (common area) space that isn’t physically located inside the walls of your space. It’s the difference between the “rentable square feet” you’re charged for and the “usable square feet” you occupy. Adding your own amenity areas in your space to the building’s spaces can add up quickly and leave you paying rent on hundreds or thousands of square feet that you seldom or never use.

Column Spacing

In the industrial world, column space is crucial, but it is one of the most rarely discussed and reported office metrics. However, if you want to have a space that truly feels open, the fewer columns it has, the better it will look. If you plan to go with a plan that blends open areas with closed area, having fewer columns gives you more flexibility as to what you build and where.

Operating Expenses

Operating expenses are not technically in the pool of rarely discussed office metrics, but modern trends in office design make them important in a different way. Among other things, operating expenses include energy and repair costs. Modern, green buildings should be built with better quality and longer-lasting materials and should have higher energy efficiency, reducing utility costs. As such, if you are paying more for a green space, you should see some portion of that higher rent coming back in lower operating expenses relative to less green spaces.

howardcommercial is a commercial real estate advisory firm focused exclusively on representing tenants, owner-occupiers and investors. Please feel free to contact us at 314.821.0085 or doug@howardcommercial.net to discuss your real estate requirements.

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