Eduardo Miranda
President of the Mexican Association of Intelligent and Sustainable Building (IMEI)

Professionalization, Culture Changes Necessary for Sustainability

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 10:49

Many companies in Mexico are pushing for more sustainable practices and the country has made great progress through the adoption of certifications such as LEED. But regardless of the strategies applied, Eduardo Miranda, President of the Mexican Association of Intelligent and Sustainable Building (IMEI), a nonprofit that provides training and education related to sustainable construction, says cultural and regulatory barriers still exist. “Even though the country’s regulatory framework is strong, there are many regulations that are not obligatory and therefore remain recommendations for the industry,” he says.
Although many sustainable practices are not mandatory, the private sector is quickly adapting these norms into their projects and continue pushing not only the quality of their developments but of the industry as a whole. IMEI works closely with lawyers, consultants, developers and other industry players to accelerate the professionalization of the sector, to act as the role models for the country. “After enjoying many success stories in implementing these norms, we can then go to the government and demonstrate the positive impact that it has not only on the sector, but on the entire population,” says Miranda.
Sustainability may not be mandatory in legislation but Miranda says many developers are beginning to feel pressure from their private sector counterparts, especially as transnational companies continue to enter the country. “JLL, CBRE and others are now demanding that buildings comply with sustainable characteristics before selling or leasing the assets,” he says. “Certifications such as LEED, EDGE and BREAM will continue to push and incentivize new players entering the market in the coming years to serve these niches.”
Acting as almost a bridge between the public and private, IMEI belongs to a chapter of BOMA Mexico that is continuing to lobby for the implementation of sustainable norms in the country. Miranda says this high-level coordination is required to ensure the industry grows evenly. “We want the market to grow in a uniform manner so that services and products are professionalized along with it,” he says. “Together we will educate the Mexican market to adopt sustainable norms in a conscious way and not just to follow a trend.”
Regardless of lobbying efforts, the public sector in Mexico tends to have a much slower learning curve than the private sector. IMEI has developed a good relationship with CONUEE through the years and looks to continue creating strong bonds with other government entities. “Although CONUEE has responded positively, it has not been as fast as we would like it to be,” Miranda says. “We strongly believe that professionalizing the sector, especially when it comes to installation services, will be a breakthrough for energy efficiency in all types of projects.” He points out that there are many cases where the design and development of a project follows all the steps necessary to be sustainable, but when it comes down to the small operations such as installation of cables, processes are not carried out correctly and this generates problems in the project’s path to sustainability.
Traditional energy consumption in buildings brings to mind air conditioning and lighting but Miranda points out that there are new high-consumption sources in the form of cell phones, computers and tablets. “Miscellaneous objects are now exceeding the consumption of lighting, especially after the incorporation of LED products,” he says. “We never considered these objects before because they were not as common. Servers, printers and even kitchens are other elements that exist in most buildings and cannot be turned off, while items such as air conditioning can be controlled to save energy.”
Raising awareness among the Mexican population could play a significant role in saving energy, especially due to the new consumption and building trends. “These new urban ecosystems brought together by coworking spaces concentrate large numbers of people and energy consumption will only increase from here. We must educate the country to truly impact the sector,” he says, adding that progress is being made, although not nearly enough. “There is a positive trend to follow sustainability and the technology exists in the market, but the problem is that it is being underused due to a lack of culture and professionalization.”