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1.14.8  Identifying Space Efficient Buildings

Manual Transmittal

July 08, 2013


(1) This transmits IRM 1.14.8, Identifying Space Efficient Buildings.


This IRM contains guidelines for identifying building conditions that affect space efficiency.

Material Changes

(1) This IRM was updated to reflect current organizational titles, terminology, references and citations.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 1.14.8 published November 1, 2007


All Real Estate Facilities Management divisions and functions

Effective Date


J. Stuart Burns
Director, Real Estate and Facilities Management
Agency Wide Shared Services  (07-08-2013)
Evaluating Proposed Office Space

  1. This IRM section provides Real Estate and Facilities Management (REFM) Territory Managers and their staffs with guidance to evaluate proposed leased properties for space efficiency.

  2. This IRM section applies to the evaluation of all future leased office space acquisitions, whether through the General Services Administration (GSA) or through the IRS Delegated Leasing program.  (07-08-2013)
Effectively Managing and Utilizing Space

  1. One of the primary goals of the federal government is to manage resources in the most efficient and economic manner practicable. REFM is required to manage its stewardship funds, which comprise the majority of the REFM budget, as effectively as possible. Since the stewardship budget consists mostly of rent, one of the ways REFM can best administer its rent costs is through effectively managing and utilizing space. This can be accomplished by leasing office space that is configured in such a way as to maximize the efficiency of floor plan and furniture layouts.

  2. GSA is the primary service provider for IRS and in conjunction with the Treasury Department must follow the provisions for effective asset management contained in Executive Order 13327, Federal Real Property Asset Management, February 4, 2004,

  3. The Treasury Department granted delegated leasing authority to IRS in February 2005 and through this program IRS is committed to practices for creating best value in leasing space by ensuring optimal space utilization.

  4. The Treasury Department requires its agencies to develop and maintain prudent asset management practices that optimize utilization of space. Treasury Directive 72-02, Acquisition, Utilization, and Disposal of Treasury Real Property Assets, September 24, 2009.  (07-08-2013)

  1. REFM Territory Managers shall ensure that their Project Managers work with GSA or the Real Property Leasing Officer (RPLO) to identify options that provide the best value to IRS in terms of cost and space efficiency.

  2. REFM Territory staff shall identify for GSA, or the RPLO, space efficiency features important for the specific lease procurement requirement.

  3. REFM Territory Managers shall ensure that the requirements for new or continuing leases are developed far enough in advance to allow properties to be evaluated for space efficiency.

  4. REFM Project Managers shall include the evaluation for space efficiency in the project files.  (07-08-2013)
Minimizing Rental Costs

  1. When acquiring new space, the most obvious means of reducing real estate costs are to lease only the minimally required area necessary for IRS to accomplish its mission at the lowest possible rental rate.

  2. Rental costs can be further minimized by selecting the most space efficient building possible. Many factors affect the efficiency of a floor plate such that two buildings with the same amount of usable office area may yield significantly different levels of efficiency. For example, a building with a 20 foot by 30 foot column spacing would be much more efficient than one with a 20 foot by 15 foot column spacing. It is not only the actual area taken up by these extra columns, but the interruption of clear open space required for optimal space planning. GSA and delegated IRS lease documents utilize the American National Standards Institute/Building Owners and Managers Association (ANSI/BOMA) international standard (Z-65.1-1996) definition for office area, known as "ANSI/BOMA Office Area" and previously “usable” square feet.

  3. Other factors such as the age of the building inventory, the requirements of the Business Unit or the number of leasing opportunities in any market may influence which "space efficient" features can be best utilized.

  4. An REFM Territory has the obligation to evaluate potential lease sites based on conditions unique to the territory:

    1. The Territory should avoid sites where the building core location or other elements of the floor plan preclude IRS from releasing marketable portions of space to GSA. Additionally, space should be configured, if possible, to allow for future release of space with minimal alterations.

    2. Whenever possible, space on a single, larger and more efficient floor is preferable than space on multiple smaller floors.  (07-08-2013)
Building Conditions that Affect Space Efficiency

  1. The following are building factors or conditions that should be taken into account when evaluating a proposed office for space efficiency.

  2. Floor Plates

    1. Full floors measuring 20,000 - 26,000 ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) square feet with a single core are most efficient;

    2. Full floors measuring 10,000 - 16,000 ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) square feet are typically inefficient;

    3. Rectangular floor plates with a single center core are most efficient; and

    4. Buildings with curved exteriors are not efficient, especially for workstation layouts.

  3. Building Cores

    1. Split cores (e.g. stairwells are separated from the main core) may affect space layouts and will result in more circulation space; and

    2. A core not centered on a floor may make it difficult to release marketable space to GSA.

  4. Walls & Columns

    1. Permanent walls constructed within the interior of a floor may affect optimal open space and office layouts and result in more circulation space;

    2. Extremely long, narrow runs of space can affect optimal open space and office layouts;

    3. The depth of perimeter columns can affect optimal open space and office layouts since deeper columns can create unusable pockets of space between the columns;

    4. Column dimensions greater than 24 inches x 24 inches will create inefficiencies;

    5. Inconsistent column spacing will usually create inefficiencies; and

    6. Column spacing less than 20 feet x 20 feet on center of the column will affect optimal space layout. Newer steel or concrete construction buildings may have clear spans with few to no intervening columns.

  5. Ceilings

    1. A standard GSA Request for Lease Proposal (RLP), previously known as Solicitation for Offers (SFO) prescribes height minimums, but low ceiling conditions will restrict use of space; and

    2. Sloped ceilings will restrict use of the space.

  6. Windows

    1. ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) square feet measured from the inside of the dominant feature of the exterior wall, which in most cases is the window glass. When window systems are situated in "deep pockets" of drywall, the result is less usable space.

  7. Mechanical and Electrical System Conditions

    1. Walker duct floor systems for electric and telecommunications receptacles will limit open space and office planning;

    2. Induction units and baseboard heaters along the perimeter of the premises will affect optimal furniture layout; and

    3. The main air return duct for a floor usually creates a noisy condition as it enters the mechanical room. The RLP includes noise tolerances, but this specific location may still restrict use of the floor space nearby.

  8. Suite Configuration and Contiguous Space

    1. Irregular suite configurations will impact open space and office layouts; and

    2. Locating a requirement in the fewest number of suites within a building is the most efficient and flexible work arrangement.

  9. The following building common area features will not make the tenant premises more or less efficient. However, the existence of these features in a building may increase the (Rentable/Usable) R/U factor and may result in higher rental costs:

    1. The size of the main building lobby

    2. The floor space pertinent to an atrium or light well

    3. Common service areas such as building conference facilities, fitness centers and vending areas

    4. Buildings with an R/U factor greater than 1.15 should be carefully scrutinized especially if the ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) space is not largely efficient.  (07-08-2013)
Request for Lease Proposals (RLP) Evaluations

  1. The standard GSA and IRS RLP’s (SFO’s for some existing leases) include language requiring that the space offered has "a potential for efficient layout"

    1. When initial offers are evaluated, the Territory shall determine whether IRS space requirements can be met within the square footage offered. If, due to inefficiencies, the requirements cannot be met, then the offer is unacceptable.

    2. If it is not clear as to whether IRS requirements can be accommodated, the Territory, as permitted by the RLP, should make a request to have the Offeror provide a test-fit layout at the Offeror's expense. The Territory shall evaluate the test-fit layout and make a determination as to whether the space offered is acceptable based on the efficiency of the floor plans.  (07-08-2013)
RLP Language

  1. The following language should be included in every RLP exceeding the Simplified Lease Acquisition Threshold (SLAT), which is $150,000 net annual average rental over the term of the lease. This language should also be included in RLPs below the SLAT if there is a concern that a building may not yield an efficient layout.


    for delegated leases, substitute "Internal Revenue Service (IRS)" for "General Services Administration (GSA)" .

    1. The General Services Administration (GSA) is interested in leasing approximately _____ rentable square feet of space. The rentable space shall yield a minimum of ______ ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) square feet to a maximum of ______ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) square feet, available for use by tenant for personnel, furnishings and equipment. See the definition of ANSI/BOMA office area square feet in the “Standard for Measuring Office Area and Other Space” paragraph in the DEFINITIONS AND GENERAL TERMS section in this RLP.

    2. The Offer shall: be for space located in a quality building of sound and substantial construction as described in this RLP; have a potential for efficient layout; be within the square footage range to be considered; and be in compliance with all of the government's minimum requirements set forth herein. For purposes of this RLP, the definition of ANSI/BOMA office area square feet is in the “Standard for Measuring Office Area and Other Space” paragraph in the DEFINITIONS AND GENERAL TERMS section.

    3. To demonstrate potential for efficient layout, the Offeror may be requested to provide a test fit layout at the Offeror's expense when the space offered contains certain features such as:

      • narrow column spacing;

      • atriums, light wells, or other areas interrupting contiguous spaces;

      • extremely long, narrow runs of space;

      • irregular space configurations; or

      • other unusual building features; and,

      • the government will advise the Offeror if the test fit layout demonstrates that the government's requirement cannot be accommodated within the space offered. The Offeror will have the option of increasing the ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) square footage offered, provided that it does not exceed the maximum ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) square footage in this RLP. If the Offeror is already providing the maximum ANSI/BOMA office area (usable) square footage and cannot house the government's space requirements, then the government will advise the Offeror that the offer is unacceptable.

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