Setting the Gold Standard

This is the last in a series of case studies illustrating how different property types can benefit from the BOMA 360 designation.

By: Jessica Bates

In the heart of the Financial District of Manhattan, a building the size of a city block contains more gold than Fort Knox. Nearly a hundred years old, the 22-floor headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York also is an architectural archetype that inspired banks across the United States to copy its distinctive style reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance.

The building also plays a critical role in the national and global economy as a working office for Federal Reserve employees. Its unique security requirements, high-profile location, 24-hour-a-day operations and historic nature place unusually high expectations on the property team. “Our work is all about ensuring that there is never any disruption to the financial operations,” explains Bobbi Weigel, CEM, CPE, LEED Green Associate, senior facilities engineer with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “The work we do here has ramifications far beyond our day-to-day—these operations are vital to the global community.” She and her team embrace a proactive, methodical approach to everything in and around the property – from security to sustainability. 

And that’s why they jumped at the opportunity to earn the BOMA 360 designation for their unique property back in 2011. They’ve since renewed the designation twice. “We liked the BOMA 360 designation because of its holistic approach that showed we weren’t just excelling in one category, but in all aspects of running a high-performing building,” Weigel says. “A great deal of trust is placed in our work, and we appreciated the validation from BOMA that we are managing this building at the highest level.”

The property team was proud to validate that trust and announce their achievement to the building’s occupants, as well as take the opportunity to explain more about all the work being done behind the scenes. The high level of security in the building, for example, is hinted at by the security checkpoints and strict badge system, but the team’s precautions go well beyond this. All vendors and onsite contractors are thoroughly vetted before being allowed onsite, and even then, they are accompanied by a full security escort. All automated building systems are maintained on separate, highly secured servers, and back-up generators ensure there are no interruptions. The Federal Reserve also hosts tours of their gold vault, which requires extensive security screenings of visitors—some of whom are foreign dignitaries. “Our approach to security is all about prevention,” Weigel says. “We have layers of protection and we’re constantly re-evaluating to make sure there are no potential vulnerabilities.”

This is quite a feat in a building old enough to have once done all financial transactions by hand in cash. “The historic nature of the building adds another step to everything,” Weigel says. “You can’t just order new windows or fixtures from a normal supplier, for example.” The building has become a fusion of old and new – historic light fixtures now hold LED bulbs, hinting at their commitment to energy management and sustainability. The property team also works hard to create a welcoming, modern atmosphere for the occupants, hosting regular events and education sessions ranging from health fairs to Earth Day celebrations.

Another feat is to coordinate across three properties – the Federal Reserve Bank of New York owns two other buildings, one a few blocks from the headquarters and another in New Jersey. The Fed had overgrown the enormous Liberty Street headquarters and some of the functions of the bank had become a challenge in the bustling Financial District. For example, due to the logistical difficulties of navigating secure vehicles in Downtown Manhattan, cash can no longer be processed at the headquarters, so this function was moved off-site to the New Jersey property. All three properties are BOMA 360-designated.

One advantage of going through the BOMA 360 designation process across the portfolio was ensuring the operations of all three buildings were aligned. “We had detailed procedures in place for each, but back then we hadn’t taken the time to sit down and look at them together,” recalls Weigel. “We took the opportunity to organize our operating procedures among the three buildings, and now anyone on our team can look at them and see an efficient, organized, easy-to-follow plan.” Being better organized has made things a little easier for the hardworking team.

“This is a big job with a lot of responsibility and keeping up with our BOMA 360 designation helps us prove we’re staying on track,” says Weigel. “My team understands the importance of the work we do – not just to our occupants, but to our country and the global economy.”