Sustainable Biz Canada

Canada’s BOMA BEST expanding into Mexico

BOMA Canada is introducing its BOMA BEST program to Mexico in partnership with BOMA Mexico, and more international expansion is in the works.

BOMA BEST in Mexico

BOMA Canada’s Benjamin Shinewald and Hazel Sutton with BOMA Mexico past chair Eduardo Zapiain Márquez in Mexico City. (Image courtesy BOMA Canada)

“We’ve had such high take-up that we’re recognizing that the next frontier lies outside the borders of this country,” said Benjamin Shinewald, president and chief executive officer for BOMA Canada. The organization represents the Canadian commercial real estate industry on matters of national concern and oversees North America’s largest environmental assessment and certification program for existing buildings.

“We think it’s terrific that our industry has come together in a program that we really believe could be a global shape-shifter and leader in the sustainability of the built environment. We look at it increasingly as a Canadian flag-bearing social enterprise around the world.”

Canada-Mexico partnership

The initiative has been in the making for about a year-and-a-half, after BOMA Mexico said it wanted BOMA BEST certifications for its buildings. Shinewald and BOMA Canada manager of environmental standards Hazel Sutton have visited Mexico City to train people and further explain how the program works. The two organizations have been in touch on a regular basis in preparation for its introduction in Mexico.

Approximately 3,000 buildings in Canada have received BOMA BEST certifications, and more are constantly being added. Studies have demonstrated BOMA BEST buildings enjoy a significant reduction in energy and water use and increase their asset value while enhancing short- and long-term performance.

BOMA Mexico is administering the program and overseeing local sales, while BOMA Canada supplies back office support and marketing materials. An internationalized version of the BOMA BEST questionnaire has been created and the program is being translated into Spanish.

While BOMA BEST was designed to be an effective and easy-to-use tool which enables building managers to drive sustainability and best practices across all existing buildings, regardless of size or class, some tweaking may be required due to differences in such things as climate, potable water and smoking regulations in the two countries.

“These are some of the nuances that we want to tackle once we get a few buildings in,” said Sutton. “There may be some hot-weather equivalents that we haven’t thought of that we’re not asking about yet.”


BOMA Canada’s benefits

Mexican buildings will pay for BOMA BEST certifications, just like they do in Canada, and that revenue will be shared by the two organizations. Money that comes back to Canada will be reinvested to provide more value for Canadian members.

“I think we’ll only have a few dozen buildings that will come in to start, but you have to start somewhere,” said Shinewald. “We have to make sure that we cover our costs, and we also want our Mexican colleagues to have financial success with it.

“Their success is our success. And if the program really takes off, I suppose we could be seeing significant revenues coming into Canada at some point.”

Colliers Mexico has been a big supporter of adapting BOMA BEST in its homeland. A Colliers presentation from earlier this year shone a light on the office markets in three major Mexican cities in 2017:

* Mexico City had approximately 65.6 million square feet of office inventory and a 16 per cent vacancy rate;
* Monterrey had approximately 10.8 million square feet of office inventory and a 19 per cent vacancy rate;
* Guadalajara had approximately 4.3 million square feet of office inventory and a 14 per cent vacancy rate.

The first Mexican BOMA BEST certifications could happen as soon as this year, as Shinewald said there are a couple of buildings that are eager to move quickly.

Further BOMA BEST international expansion

BOMA Canada is hoping to launch BOMA BEST in China next year in partnership with BOMA China. The Canadian embassy in Beijing is already going through the certification process, Chinese representatives have toured buildings in Toronto and Vancouver to see how the program works, and Canadian experts in various fields — including sustainability, risk management, asset management, property management and energy management — have spoken at BOMA China conferences.

Shinewald said there’s also been interest in adopting BOMA BEST in Korea, Israel and some South American countries, but no moves have been made on those yet.

Further expansion should also come in the United States. Shinewald said a few hundred buildings there are part of BOMA BEST in a program run directly by BOMA Canada.

“Major users in Canada are expanding their certification portfolios into the U.S. for their U.S. holdings. We’re now basically a portfolio program where you certify a large number of buildings in one fell swoop. Our big Canadian players, particularly Bentall Kennedy and Manulife and one or two others, have begun to add in their U.S. portfolios.”


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Steve McLean

About the Author ()

Steve is a veteran writer, reporter, editor and communications specialist whose work has appeared in a wide variety of print and online outlets. He’s the author of the book Hot Canadian Bands and has taught reporting to college students. He is based in Toronto.

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