3 ways that security design could be helping to lease your speculative office development, but possibly isn’t…

Introduction

If you’re an architect, a project manager or developer involved in commercial property then you’ve probably reviewed security designs from specialist and other consultants. Beyond being able to show prospective tenants a few cameras in the landlord areas and some turnstiles in the lobby, did your project see enough value from them? In this post I’m going to highlight some ways that I think that your security designer should be enabling your building to appeal more to tenants.

Security design should support you in achieving marketable building certifications

Maybe you’re not convinced that many of your prospective tenants place any great stock in security design, so I'll start with something related. I'm sure that you do believe that tenants are interested in sustainability, and I’d wager that you’re targeting a BREEAM rating for most if not all of your buildings.

If you’re paying a consultant to design security for your office building, then the risk assessment and recommendations from that consultant could be packaged so as to contribute a BREEAM point to the project. Of course the consultant has to meet the criteria set out in BREEAM Hea 06 in order to be a ‘Suitably Qualified Security Specialist’ and the development has to actually build the recommendations. But if you employ someone who is qualified and experienced then neither of those should present a problem and your project should be lined up to add a valuable BREEAM point.

Would your potential tenants value a building with a badge from Secured By Design Commercial, BRE SABRE or the City of London Crime Prevention Association’s Building Security Accreditation? I suggest that you ask your property consultant to assess the appeal to your target tenant profiles.  If your tenants are considering terrorism insurance then there's a good chance that they would be interested in a certification that led to a reduction in their premium.  

Security specifications should support the technology and operational choices of your tenants

Is your development seeing the security and business benefits of the latest technology? Or is your security designer rolling out specifications based on the same analogue cameras and (hacked) proximity card technology as ten years ago?

If you receive interest from a tech savvy potential tenant, will they be impressed by what they see? Or will they wonder why the first layer of security for their office building is out of date, easily circumvented and incompatible with the systems that they plan to install within their demise?

For example, are you thinking about leasing some or all of the space to a coworking provider? If so, how is the landlord’s access control system planned to integrate with the tenant’s use of coworking management systems like Cobot or Nexudus? More generally, maybe you can provide some preparation in the base build to limit the works required from tenants in installing security measures, such as providing containment between comms rooms and likely access controlled doors or providing robust fixing locations where shutters within the tenant demise would protect their assets. 

In short, your security designer should be consulting with you, the design team and your property consultant to determine target tenant profiles and specify systems in support of those. This takes time and effort on behalf of the security designer, but it doesn't have to increase the security budget significantly and in my experience it pays off when tenants see the effort that the base build has made so that they won’t have to.

Security designs should clearly respond to current threats

Can you describe to prospective tenants that likely crime and terrorism scenarios were considered in the design of the building and security systems, and demonstrate how the landlord areas and the building management procedures will help to protect their staff? 

Maybe only 5 years ago this kind of discussion was only likely to be had with banks, multinational corporations or large infrastructure companies. In 2017 smaller companies in more diverse sectors are concerned that their staff could be affected by a targeted or indiscriminate terrorist attack and are asking what protection their office buildings will provide to those inside. 

If your security designer didn’t do much more than table some plans with cameras and controlled doors in the usual locations, maybe an intercom for out of hours access, then your tenant isn’t going to see a level of protection that they can describe to their management and employees as part of the benefits of a move. On the other hand if you have can table a threat assessment and a vulnerability assessment and show how those are mitigated by a combination of physical, electronic and operational systems which are designed and operated in accordance with legislation and documented industry best practice then you can appeal not only to their security manager but to information security, human resources and other disciplines.

Summary

If you want to differentiate your commercial space for tenants, considered security design in the base build can help. A qualified, experienced and diligent security consultant should be able to assist you in demonstrating that your building will support the things that your tenants care about from the obvious protection of assets, through technical system integration to sustainability.