Multi-unit Residential added to BOMA BESt in a program overhaul

In an ongoing effort to keep pace with a rapidly evolving green real estate sector, on January 24th the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA) released an updated Version 2 of BOMA BESt (Building Environmental Standards) its popular environmental rating system for existing commercial buildings.

“The new program is wonderful and will bring buildings that were previously certified back into the program as well as new ones”, said Melissa Peneycad, Manager, Environment and Energy Sustainability Practices. Revisions to the program include a technical and administrative upgrade to make BOMA BESt more user friendly as well as additions and changes that are going to “better reflect industry best practices and maintain its relevance” she explained.

Addition of a multi-unit residential module to BOMA BESt – which is rental apartments but not condominiums – is bound to generate a flood of new applicants for the environmental certification. Categories in the program include low-rise apartment buildings with a minimum of four apartments, mid rise with four to nine apartments and high-rise with over ten. A pilot test program run in 11 buildings across the country provided BOMA the feedback needed to strengthen the module prior to launch. BOMA news release described it as a long-awaited and highly anticipated extension to the program.

Other program revisions apply to its four existing building types office, shopping center, light industrial and open-air retail.

A BOMA BESt building certification is valid for three years at which point the property owner must re-certify. Version 2 has simplified the process for recertification by providing a ‘transparent scoring’ system, easier login procedure and the automatic population of static building information into online forms.

While streamlined administrative procedures in Version 2 are an important part of the program’s update it also introduced a more rigorous set of requirements for new applicants and those seeking recertification.

BOMA BESt now includes several new questions pertaining to building commissioning as well as updated energy and water performance benchmarking scales, new site enhancement criteria, commuting, effluent management and an improved walkability index. There are references to Energy Star and an enhanced indoor environment section that addresses acoustical issues and lighting.

The new program gathers information from building owners about innovative practices and technologies that Peneycard says allows building owners to tell their own unique story about their environmental initiatives. This addition allows BOMA to ‘keep its finger on the pulse of cutting edge’ in the green building sector which in turn can be leveraged to assist the entire industry.

The new multi-residential module, program updates, myriad technical and administrative changes to the program: references to resources, tips about how to answer questions, minimum requirements and unit conversion features suggest Version 2 provides an enhanced user experience, greater educational value and is nothing short of a major overhaul of BOMA BESt.

BOMA Canada licenses the U.S. based Green Globes – platform for existing buildings and has re-branded it as BOMA BESt where BESt stands for Building Environmental Standards. Green Globes is owned and operated by ECD-Jones Lang LaSalle outside Canada.

BOMA BESt was launched in 2005 and there are currently 1,360 certified buildings. The program is managed nationally by BOMA Canada but delivered locally by eleven local BOMA Associations across the country and offered in French and English.

In April 2011 Halsall & Associates was hired by BOMA Canada to conduct the program review, which was carried out in conjunction with a team at ECD-Jones Lang LaSalle (led by Jiri Skopek). Version 2 upgrades are specific to the Canadian version, BOMA BESt said Peneycad.

A list of buildings with a BOMA BESt certification, more information about BOMA BESt and how to apply to the program is available at

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