CBRE Leads the Evolution of Lease Exits

March 8, 2024 5 Minute Read

Andrew Bridel sitting in an office

Moving house can be one of the most stressful situations life has to offer. Try moving hundreds of employees and a functioning business from one building to another.

A prominent downtown Vancouver law firm relocated multiple floors last summer and needed help managing the complex move of its 250-plus employees to their new digs.

The firm also had to remove all of the furniture and equipment from the 80,000 sq. ft. space, including 76 workstations, 13 meeting rooms, hi-density file storage and furniture from 134 offices.

Once empty, the space had to be decommissioned back to base building condition.

This kind of work is far beyond what most tenants can manage on their own, let alone an operating law firm. So they reached out to CBRE’s Vancouver-based Jason Shanks and his team.

Shanks, Associate Director of Business Transition and Move Management, coordinated all the elements required for the project, including staff, facilities, furniture, movers and property management. His team also engaged service providers for IT, phones, signage, moves, used furniture dealers, and recyclers.

“Selecting the right vendors for a project can significantly impact project costs and client savings,” says Shanks, “and it can help to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable environmental stewardship.

“It might seem convenient to rely on a single vendor for all these aspects, but we opt to engage multiple vendors, each specialized in their respective disciplines.”

This approach not only yields the greatest cost savings, “it also allows us to divert a larger quantity of assets away from landfills, aligning with our commitment to environmental sustainability and ESG.”

In the end, Shanks’ team saved the law firm $8,500 in disposal fees and diverted 40,500 lbs. of office furniture from the landfill, donating much of it to multiple charities and the resale market.

“It was an exceptional client outcome,” says Shanks. “And it speaks to the strength and cost benefits of having CBRE behind you as your holistic move management partner.”

Jason Shanks standing in an office full of boxes

Everything Must Go

As companies right-size their office spaces post-pandemic and office vacancies rise, there has been a significant uptick in the type of work that Shanks and CBRE’s other business transition and move management experts specialize in.

Move management traditionally entailed moving a client to a new space. What remained in the old space after the move was the unused furniture, fixtures and equipment.

But with the evolution of workplaces post-pandemic and ESG top of mind for most firms, decommissioning the office space that companies vacate is often more complex than the move itself, and the costs can be substantial.

Disposing of electronic waste, which could include everything from cables and ductwork to lighting, large heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, and finding a new home for furniture and fixtures left behind requires specialized expertise.

Increasingly, CBRE’s business transition and move management teams are advising on lease exit strategy and negotiating on behalf of the client.

“Traditional move support has become a broader scope of work for our team,” says Andrew Bridel, Director of Business Transition and Move Management for CBRE.

After a move is complete, the lease exit requirements have traditionally been left to the client to manage – and most didn’t know where to start.

“We explain to our clients that planning their move is the ideal time to plan their lease exit strategy,” says Bridel. “CBRE has many partners ideally suited to support this work.

By identifying and sourcing the right vendors, our team is successfully managing and delivering the tenant’s requirements and the landlord’s expectations.”

Furniture Lives On

When companies move to new office space, they’re often leaving the furniture behind. Rather than dismantle it send it to the landfill, CBRE’s move management teams recognize the commercial real estate industry has a tremendous opportunity to prioritize greenhouse gas emissions reduction, waste diversion and asset redeployment through responsible lease exit strategies.

“Like CBRE, our valued partners provide sustainable solutions when it comes to landfill diversion. Often these assets have value in the reuse furniture market, as donations or when recycled,” says Bridel.

This value can be applied to offset the physical costs to remove these items and in the form of a corporate sustainability report, which illustrates the landfill diversion percentage and where these assets have been redirected.

“This type of support has now become an expectation from our clients. It’s no longer a value-add option,” Bridel says.

By identifying and sourcing the right vendors, our team is successfully  managing and delivering the tenant's requirements and the landlords expectations. Andrew Bridel

Don’t Forget Industrial

While the decommissioning of office space gets the most attention, industrial real estate is a big part of the business, too, according to Shanks.

“Decommissioning and asset disposal on the industrial side is not to be overlooked – manufacturing and scientific labs, as well. Those are focal points for us. Each of them requires specific expertise when it comes to managing the relocation project, as cleaning out a space when a tenant decides to leave can be a costly, time-consuming process.”

“Tenants are not as confident when it comes to the decommissioning of their space and asset disposal”, Shanks says. “This is where CBRE can play a valuable role.”

“We’ve found the door becomes wider when we bring those services to the table. Most clients don’t want to handle that kind of thing and frankly they’re usually a bit daunted by the whole process. They would rather bring us on as a turnkey solution to sort out the details and deal with all the headaches throughout the entire project.

“And we’re more than happy to be of service.”

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