In the States



One of BOMA’s most consequential and effective programs often operates quietly behind the scenes. For decades, BOMA International’s Industry Defense Fund (IDF) has leveraged and amplified industry advocacy efforts taking place across the United States, playing a critical role in supporting and protecting the commercial real estate sector. This member-driven program ensures that funds are available at the local, state and federal levels to address a wide range of legislative and legal challenges that stand to impact BOMA members. In 2017 alone, more than $140,000 was awarded to assist nine projects, encompassing a variety of advocacy campaigns.

The IDF is funded through annual contributions from the BOMA local associations; these resources are pooled into a fund that can provide suitable resources to support timely, priority projects. Funding requests can be made by BOMA local associations or state coalitions or, in some cases, by BOMA International when unanticipated, national issues arise that call for immediate action. In order to make the greatest possible impact, IDF funding is designed to work in tandem with additional contributions and partnerships, and the use of matching funds and the development of coalitions are strongly encouraged.

Applications are accepted throughout the year on a rolling basis. All IDF activities must comply with official oversight rules, a comprehensive set of guidelines that have been adopted and revised by BOMA International’s Executive Committee. Administration of the fund and compliance with the rules are entrusted to the IDF Oversight Committee; this committee meets in person twice a year—at the Winter Business Meeting and the BOMA International Conference & Expo—and also convenes by conference call to address applications between meetings. With the support of BOMA International’s advocacy staff, the IDF Oversight Committee considers all requests for assistance and also ensures that recipients of IDF disbursements continue to meet the criteria for funding and are supporting the BOMA membership.

Funded projects can be found across the United States, and they reflect the exceptional advocacy work that’s taking place at the state and local levels. For example, BOMA/Greater Cleveland, in partnership with BOMA Ohio, recently spearheaded an effort to counter a ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that could have broader implications for many parts of the country. The decision would have expanded the commission’s authority and strictly regulated commercial building owners from submetering utility fees to tenants. Thanks to BOMA’s efforts, the commission reversed course and excluded commercial real estate from its original ruling, though the issue remains an ongoing regulatory matter within the commission and a potential legislative matter in the Ohio General Assembly.

BOMA/Oregon also is in the midst of a project supported by the IDF, participating in a coalition challenging the implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program in the state. In another case that could have national implications, a questionable opinion by the National Marine Fisheries Service related to endangered species could result in the disqualification of many communities from federal flood insurance and disaster relief.

Local issues also receive IDF support in cases that can identify important trends and solutions. BOMA/ Orlando, for instance, used IDF funding to support a legal review of a recently passed municipal energy benchmarking ordinance. Partnering with other real estate organizations in Central Florida, the local association was successful in amending the ordinance, including removing fines for noncompliance and creating a stakeholder advisory committee to monitor its implementation. These changes placed a less onerous burden on Orlando’s commercial real estate industry. With a pattern of benchmarking ordinances popping up in cities across the country, the lessons learned by BOMA/Orlando are invaluable to other local associations.

The Industry Defense Fund has a long record of supporting projects that have the potential to greatly affect our industry, and these are just a few recent examples of successful initiatives. The IDF is a critical tool for helping BOMA advocate for the interests of commercial real estate, which is essential to BOMA’s mission to advance the industry. In fact, this spring, the IDF Oversight Committee approved one of its largest projects yet. Watch for more details to come as this new advocacy effort picks up speed.

The application form and oversight rules can be found under the Advocacy section of For additional information, contact Ken Rosenfeld, BOMA International’s director of State and Local Affairs, at

This article was originally published in the May/June 2018 issue of BOMA Magazine.