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New BOMA BEST program encourages sustainable workplaces

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada has introduced the BOMA BEST Sustai...

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada has introduced the BOMA BEST Sustainable Workplaces program as its latest environmental initiative.

Sustainable Workplaces“Corporate tenants are very often concerned about being situated in green buildings, but part of the greenness of a building is within their control,” said BOMA Canada president and chief executive officer Benjamin Shinewald.

“By creating BOMA BEST Sustainable Workplaces, we’re empowering tenants to contribute to the green mission of their buildings and to do their part in reducing or even eliminating commercial real estate’s environmental impact.”

BOMA Canada has more than 3,200 members who oversee in excess of 2.1 billion square feet of commercial real estate across the country. Membership isn’t necessary, however, to download the environmental standard from the BOMA BEST website and enroll in the new document-based program officially launched April 22 to coincide with Earth Day.

Program available to all types of workplaces

The Sustainable Workplaces program is available to all types of tenants. The introductory yearly cost to certify a workplace is $375 per location plus one dollar per full-time equivalent employee. Charities and non-profit organizations receive a 50 per cent discount.

“At the most basic level, it requires you to have policies and procedures in place and then year after year you have to create plans to make improvements on prior years,” said Shinewald.

“It’s designed to be an easy-to-use tool that will force you to gather together in one spot all of your environmental programs, many of which probably already exist at companies. Where there are absences or gaps you can create new policies.”

BOMA BEST is a voluntary national program designed to assess the environmental performance and management of buildings across Canada. For a building to be truly green, however, it has to be used effectively.

Seven categories to benchmark and monitor

The standardized framework requires organizations to benchmark, monitor and set goals in: energy; water; recycling and waste diversion; electronic waste; sustainable spaces; sustainable travel and commuting; and indoor air quality.

“It takes a very, very user-friendly, simple, non-technical, common sense and inexpensive approach to the things you have to do to green the space you’re in,” said Shinewald.

Organizations must also develop sustainable procurement policies and practices that address: information technology; office supplies and furniture; electrical products and appliances; and other products and services.

Pilot program before launch

Five organizations — including the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Bentall Kennedy’s Toronto headquarters, East Port Properties’ corporate office and some of East Port’s tenants — completed a pilot program and were asked to provide feedback about the process, results and recommendations for improvement.

“In the case of Bentall Kennedy, what they liked about the program was that they were already doing a lot of this stuff but hadn’t brought everything together for a comprehensive review,” said Shinewald. “It was not an onerous process, but it allowed for the centralization of their activities.”

To certify or renew certification, organizations are required to provide details of the workplace they’re looking to certify, including a full documentation package for review by BOMA Canada that demonstrates compliance with the requirements of the program. BOMA Canada will review the documentation and determine if an onsite visit is required to verify compliance.

Within 60 days of the first anniversary of certification and annually thereafter, organizations must submit a BOMA BEST Sustainable Workplaces program performance report demonstrating ongoing progress in achieving their goals and/or continuous improvement in their operations.

Certifications are valid for three years as long as certain criteria are adhered to.

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