The Real Estate Norm® (REN) is a systemized assessment method that enables objective discussion about the quality performance at each phase of the life cycle of existing or new to build real estate, whether leased or owned. It is based on a list of clear and measurable performance definitions from the perspective of the building user/occupant.
The best set of performance measurements is one that is customised to fit the needs of the organisation. Thus ensuring that the occupants needs and expectations are continuously being met. It provides a ‘common language’ that offers ideal chances both to promote synergy and impact. It supports informed decisions across the real estate portfolio.
It is a means of facilitating and improving communication about demand, supply and ownership of locations and buildings that create more transparency. It brings consistency and clarity. It reduces the risk of differences in interpretation and uncertainty.
Building quality can be assessed at every step of its life cycle by using the well-established criteria of the REN. Therefore REN can be used as a module in the Building Information Model(ling) Management (BIM) approach or with an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) to enable BIM/IWMS to communicate also with the end-users of buildings. It creates the required input for a quality management plan.
To be clear, the REN-norm is not developed for the determination of the economic value of real estate. It is a method, which makes the quality (fit for purpose) of real estate measurable and open to discussion by the use of a set of unambiguous definitions.
It is a means to improve and extend communication about buildings including their environment. The aim is to minimize differences of interpretation and encourage a culture of continuous improvement. The REN method uses a 5-point scale to keep a clear view on the main possibilities of each aspect from a Real estate/Facility Management and an IT perspective (supply side) as from the user’s perspective (demand side). Both demand and supply are compared in a match profile in order to contribute to practical solutions and decision support.
You must first know your requirements in order to meet them. The REN standards enable you to evaluate alternatives, decide whether improvements are needed and measure progress toward meeting the objectives. In applying the tool REN one should take into consideration the quote of Albert Einstein:
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.”
REN provides a method that gives general and effective insight into the desired and/or existing quality performance of real estate. REN makes real estate SMART and REAL easy, aligning performance to strategy.
REN can be used for a more targeted design of requirements to determine the optimal fit for purpose of the real estate portfolio. The desired performance level is determined by the user and/or owner of the property. Besides the factors that can be determined objectively or counted, there are also factors of importance that never can be determined objectively because they depend on time periods, trends and visions. But nevertheless, they can be measured.
The REN norm is a measuring system to make tailor-made performance indicators for different types of real estate and different scopes like:
- User experience,
- Code compliance,
- User satisfaction,
- Energy efficiency,
- Operating cost reduction,
- Reinforce capital expenditure
To facilitate comparing demand and supply profiles for:
- Site selection,
- Building assessment,
- Rental negotiations,
- Post-occupancy evaluation,
- Sustainable buildings,
- Private-Public Partnership (PPP) and Design, Build, Finance, Maintain, Operate (DBFMO).
Measuring the contribution to corporate targets, alignment of corporate real estate strategy with overall corporate strategy.
REN assessments give input to make informed decisions and identify any improvements to the building (portfolio) that may be necessary. It makes communication about portfolio and asset performance between end-users and professionals easier.
This has already been done e.g. for offices, industrial buildings, distribution centres, laboratories, housing, educational buildings, police stations, bank branches, petrol stations. REN can be applied to both locations and buildings. The Dutch standard NEN 8021 “Rating user performance of commercial buildings”, published in February 2014, is based on the REN methodology. The NEN 8021 covers only the real estate functionality of office buildings. See schedule below.
In 2015 the REN Offices 2.0 has been updated to version 3.0. Real Estate (RE) has been supplemented with Facility Management (FM) and Information Technology (IT). All components of a work environment are now addressed. The REN 3.0 is developed for Zurich Insurance company for the management of their international office portfolio with about 1,000 buildings.
The REN method is helpful in identifying relevant measurement criteria/indicators for the assessment of owned and leased real estate. With a weighted rating, it can be determined to what extend the real estate is used effectively, efficiently and meets user satisfaction in comparison to the stated policy goals. In the REN 3.0, matching supply and demand takes place on themes as:
- Attractiveness / Experience.
- Accessibility / Logistics.
- Amenities / Supporting Services.
- Sustainability / Building Intelligence / Environmental Performance.
- Health / Safety & Security / Well-being.
- Maintenance Management.
Control and risk management on the real estate portfolio becomes possible. A rating of buildings helps as a baseline assessment for better matching the actual space usage to the space requirement.
Making cost savings visible and pointing out over complete buildings for disposition. For vacancies, an appropriate new destination can be found. The buildings eligible for disposition have to be compared against the companies real estate policy for the medium to long term to prevent that the ‘Crown jewels’ are being sold.
REN can also be used to monitor if sustainable buildings are used and managed in a sustainable way.
(Video is in Dutch)
The Dutch video ‘Real Estate Norm (REN), better communication about real estate performance. A new era.’ from 1992, shows in approximately 18 minutes how the REN practically can be used. For tenants/users, project developers, investors, brokers, architects and consultants. Different real estate parties highlight backgrounds and developments. Dutch Minister Hans Alders of the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment (VROM) receives from Director René P. M Stevens on the 12th of November 1992 the first copy of the REN version 2.
In the early nineties the three initiators of the Real Estate Norm (REN), real estate broker Zadelhoff Makelaars (now: Cushman & Wakefield), project management organization Starke Diekstra (now: Arcadis Netherlands) and real estate consultants Jones Lang Wootton (now: Jones Lang LaSalle), have concluded from their daily practice that there is a growing demand for a tool that would enable the objective comparison of the quality performance of office/industrial locations and buildings.
A common understanding between the users of offices on the one hand and real estate professionals, accommodation and construction specialists, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly difficult. A clear and unambiguous standard for the determination of quality like the REN-norm will improve mutual understanding.
The REN-norm is the leading pioneer of a de facto standard for assessing real estate quality, in the sense of fit for purpose. René P.M. Stevens and late Frans F.A. Diekstra (*30-03-1955 †11-05-1995) were the main founding fathers, and from 1992-1997 Stevens was also Managing Director at the Real Estate Norm Netherlands Foundation. Diekstra and Stevens have presented the REN as the world’s first quality standard for real estate during the conference of the European Real Estate Society (ERES) in 1994. Since April 2015 Stevens is again the Managing Director and board member.