Sixty Seconds with Peter Verwer – All Systems Go for Global Property Measurement Standard

A coast to coast train trip across the United States in the mid-19th century passed through more than 80 time zones.

That’s because each railway station set its clocks based on local conditions. It wasn’t until 1884 that major countries agreed on a universal system that established Greenwich as the zero meridian.

This quest for a standard world time was part of a much larger project to join up the globe, from defining the metre, volts and amps to seismic measurement and telegraphic protocols. One motivation was to end the wasteful confusion and inefficiency of multiple standards. Another, was to establish a common language for doing business.

These same factors drive today’s efforts to forge an international property measurement standard (IPMS). Nearly 60 organisations, superbly led by RICS: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, are actively working to end the disorder of competing measurement techniques. The new IPMS for office buildings was published in November, with a residential standard now in development and with more to follow.

It makes no sense that the exact same physical building in downtown New York is considered smaller in the CBD of London, or Singapore, or Shanghai. If we don’t know the precise size of a building then we can’t benchmark operating and investment performance, or even compare construction costs. Disagreements about floor space are also a huge source of lease disputes.

Finally, artificial variations in size undermine the valuation process (and market confidence). APREA is a keen supporter of the IPMS project, which links to our work on international valuation and financial standards. APREA sincerely thanks its hard working members who sit on various IPMS groups – particularly, David Faulkner of Colliers and Luke Mackintosh of Ernst & Young. Thanks, also, to Professor Ting Kien Hwa.

A Mandarin version of the office standard will be launched with BOMA China and RICS next month.

Peter Verwer

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