This article originally appeared in the August-September 2023 issue of Immobilier commercial magazine.
With a real estate portfolio of over 10 million square feet, the Petra Group relies on the quality of its facilities and the continuous improvement of its services to maintain its buildings and retain its tenants. To achieve that goal, Petra Group works with partners who share the same vision of the future.
It was in one of Montreal’s most iconic buildings, 1000 de La Gauchetière (a Petra Group property), that Petra’s vice-president, Real Estate Services, Sylvain Mathieu, along with the president of ACCS Simon Fournier, discussed the vision shared by both firms.
Sylvain Mathieu, Vice-president, Real Estate Services at Petra Group and Simon Fournier, President at ACCS - ©JBC Média by Denis Bernier
A Strategic Shift
In 2018 the Petra Group property portfolio was growing, with a strategic shift taking place. The firm invested heavily in upgrading and standardizing its buildings, particularly in terms of comfort, security and maintenance. "For us, it's a commitment to offer quality to all our tenants, and to set an example within the industry," said Sylvain Mathieu.
When Petra called on the services of ACCS, a company specializing in the automation of commercial buildings, it was not only looking for a platform to manage the electromechanical systems of its building stock, but also seeking a partner ready to commit to increasing the efficiency and comfort of its buildings.
ACCS was also undergoing a major transformation in 2018 with the arrival of a new generation of leaders. They drafted a mission statement that now resonates across all its teams: Take care of people and the environment, one smart building at a time.
"We install technologies that live in buildings for decades. The real value lies in long-term support and optimization, not simply installing a control system. That is how we accomplish our mission," said Simon Fournier. The experts at ACCS took the time to fully understand the long-term needs of the Petra Group, to look beyond the requirements of the initial project.
A Shared Vision of Technology
Petra Group and ACCS worked on a technological solution that would centralize data from all buildings, placing the information on a unified graphic interface. In concrete terms, the innovative, scalable platform collects data from HVAC systems. That makes it possible to observe their status in real time and remotely, to optimize their operation and also to better diagnose breakdowns and discomfort problems.
The first project was carried out in one of Montreal's real estate jewels, Place Victoria. The tower, built in 1964 and covering over a million square feet, is still undergoing major renovations.
"It was the beginning of an adventure! We got to know each other and worked together. As with any project there were adjustments to be made, but that's how we built a solid foundation and confirmed our shared values," said Sylvain Mathieu.
The solution was introduced gradually in other buildings, improving the recipe and raising tenant service standards. In total, since 2018 "We implemented 125 control projects in 15 buildings in Petra's property portfolio. Our team carries out between 200 and 300 service interventions a year, more than half of which are settled remotely," added Simon Fournier.
The Importance of Data
Without a doubt, this technological solution helps Petra to be proactive in the technical management of its buildings. "All our long-term decisions are based on data. We're working on setting up dashboards that enable us to see trends in energy consumption, the number of discomfort complaints, active alarms, etc." noted Sylvain Mathieu.
"Thanks to the centralized control system, we have eyes and ears on all HVAC systems. Our goal is to feed the business intelligence of Petra Group's management team, and also to empower operators to understand how they drive their buildings on a day-to-day basis," said Simon Fournier.
The partnership between Group Petra and ACCS is a source of mutual value creation. "This business relationship is an example of how we like to work. We are consulted upstream of projects, and we put our expertise at the service of a customer who is investing for the long term," said Simon Fournier.
For Petra, ACCS is a trusted partner, helping to make important operational decisions and prevent occupant discomfort. "For us it's a win-win-win situation, as our partnership allows us to better serve our tenants," added Sylvain Mathieu.
Thanks to its ongoing efforts, Petra Group is able to achieve the highest levels of certification. Place Victoria, for example, has achieved BOMA BEST Platinum certification. "The decisions we've made in the past have led to today's certifications, and that is proof of our strong commitment to our tenants," concluded Sylvain Mathieu.
What are your needs? Are control systems a fundamental necessity or strategic leverage when it comes to managing your buildings?