Takeaways from BOMEX 2021 

“Expect to Win” 

On October 20 and 21 the BOMEX 2021 Virtual conference was held.  One of the keynote sessions was titled “Mental Health and Its Impact on Your Elite Team” hosted by Nick Nurse, Head Coach of the Toronto Raptors and hosted by Kerris Hougardy, Vice President, People at Ada.  Most readers would know about Nurse’s recent success, winning the 2019 NBA Championship and being named Head Coach of Canada’s men’s basketball team.  However, many would not be aware of the many steps it took Nurse to get there.   

Nick Nurse gave a rundown of his route to the NBA title.  He highlighted taking a middle-performing team in Brighton, England all the way to a championship as well as starting an NBA D-League team in Des Moines, Iowa and winning that championship within a few years.  He distilled changing a winning culture down to a simple philosophy, “Expect to Win”. 


This keynote was one of the BOMEX highlights and set the tone for the many interesting educational sessions over the two days. 


“5G – Bridging the Gap between Telcos and Building Owners and Managers” 

One of the themes was around technology and its impact on CRE – Commercial Real Estate.  Maria Andonvovsky, Director – Operational Excellence of BentallGreenOak hosted a session along with Peter Leathley, Strategic Programs, Director Technology Strategy – TELUS titled “5G – Bridging the Gap between Telcos and Building Owners and Managers”.  It’s an interesting choice of words in the title as it refers to a “Gap”.   To help bridge the gap, Maria suggests that collaboration is key and that you should work with consultants.  We couldn’t agree more, Attain can help bridge the gap by bringing together Telcos and Property managers to find a way to help bring 5G solutions to the table.  This can include rooftop antenna placements and in-building coverage systems known as DAS – Distributed Antenna Systems. 

We hear so much about 5G but we should be asking why it’s important to building owners and managers.  According to Peter, 5G promises much faster speeds (10 times current 4G/LTE rates), increased capacity (up to 1,000,000 IoT sensors per square km) and low latency (5 ms).  In a building, this could mean smart building sensors connecting in real-time without the high cost of connecting to a fibre or cabled infrastructure.  5G coverage is something that tenants may start demanding to renew a lease or consider prospective locations. 

If 5G is so great, then why aren’t we doing more to prepare our buildings both inside and out.  As Maria points out there are many barriers: 

  • Cost 
  • The density of antennas, aesthetics  
  • Safety and tenant perceptions 
  • Use cases and ROI 
  • Timelines and readiness – we should be starting now 

Attain helps our clients work through the challenges mentioned above.  We are assisting clients right now in finding funding formulas that will fit into CapEx and OpEx budgets as well as addressing design concerns and construction management. 


The Business Case for Healthy Buildings 

Dr. Joseph Allen filled in for his co-author John D. McComber speaking in a session called “Healthy Buildings 2.0 – The Business Case”.  Of course, indoor air quality is an important topic during the Covid-19 pandemic times, but what is more remarkable is that the two authors performed research over a 3-year period that started well before we were dealing with the virus.  Dr. Allen’s premise is that healthy buildings are an amenity and command premium rents.  He points out that tenants and visitors have access to more data than ever before with smartphones and watches.  Indoor air quality data is now becoming democratized with easier access to data.  

He goes on to point out that the change to healthier buildings will happen faster in urban cores.  Tenants will start to vote with their feet and not want to work in buildings that are not healthy, well beyond Covid.  Transitions from earlier technologies were much slower, almost 50 years for Air Conditioning and 30 years for elevators.  He expects the transition to healthier buildings will be much faster and could even be driven by offsets in reduced health insurance premiums for tenants that work in healthier buildings. 

Dr. Allen points out an example of a new building in New York City at 425 Park Avenue which is being branded as one of the healthiest buildings in NYC.  In a brand-new building, there are more opportunities to design systems to be healthier from the beginning.  Attain knows that for many of the elements to make an existing building healthier, you need various systems working well together and exchanging data.  Attain works with our clients to map out their objectives and will create a plan to move them towards a healthier building. 


Smart Buildings – Smart Cities 

As the second of the two days drew to a close and we prepared for the National Awards Gala, there was an excellent session on Smart Buildings and how they interact with their surroundings in Smart Cities.  Thano Lambrinos, SVP – Digital Buildings, Experiences and Innovation at QuadReal Properties moderated with Professor Dr. Habil Ursula Eicker, Concordia University, Frank Sullivan, Chief Business Development Officer, Brainbox and Karen Jalon, VP Sustainability, Energy & Smart Technology from Cadillac Fairview as panellists.  

A clear takeaway from this session was not to focus on the technology first, but rather lead with outcomes and business values first.  With so many options and vendors out there, the panellists felt that you need to focus on what delivers business value.  Clear objectives should be defined and then build use cases before embarking on one-off smart building projects.  It’s imperative that an organization develop a strategic focus and formal process for evaluating potential projects. 

Karen Jalon mentioned how important it was to build business cases on real costs.  Often many of the costs are overlooked around legacy systems.  She points out that smart technology is an enabler solving building problems.  Priority should be given to projects that enhance the tenant experience and deliver tangible cost savings. 

With the many vendors and solutions in the smart building space, it is key to have a trusted advisor with you along the journey.  Attain helps our clients develop the strategic focus and business cases to effectively evaluate smart building projects.  It’s important to select a partner that is truly independent and isn’t biased with one vendor or technology. 

BOMEX Virtual 2021 was a very successful event.  But most of the attendees are already looking forward to PEI and New Brunswick co-hosting next year’s event in Charlottetown.  At Attain, we are already anticipating the seafood, golf, beaches and most of all, seeing BOMEX attendees in person! 

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