Sustainable Buildings Certification Programme

Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Population: 8,918,653 [capital area]

Climate: Subtropical Highland

Duration: 2009 – onwards

Sector: Buildings

Funding sources: Public Sector

City networks: C40

Savings: Electricity reduced by 20.1 million kWh and CO2e by 66,120 tonnes.

Solutions: Implementation of a Sustainable Buildings Certification Programme.

Multiple benefits: Energy and potable water savings impacts.

The Sustainable Buildings Certification Programme (SBCP), which grew out of Mexico City’s First Climate Action Programme, began operation in 2009 and it is a first and major step towards tackling this set of challenges in the building sector.

Objective – It aims to foster sustainable construction and building usage by awarding certifications that reflect various levels of sustainability performance.

Solutions – The SBCP offers the owners or tenants of commercial, residential and industrial buildings an opportunity to reduce and demonstrate the environmental impact of their properties across a broad range of categories (including energy, performance for water, mobility, solid waste, social and environmental responsibility and green roofs). Participation from owners and tenants is incentivised through tax reductions, reduced energy and water bills, access to project financing, expedited permitting procedures, and finally, prospects of increased rental yields from green premiums.

An overview of the certification process is as follows: 1) A building owner or tenant selects an implementing agent from a list of certified organisations. The implementing agent then files a building registration report with the Mexico City´s Ministry of the Environment. The agent or agents then conduct an audit of the building, evaluating performance from the six sustainability categories mentioned above. 2) After an initial evaluation, a diagnostic report is then lodged. Agents will identify for building owners or tenants opportunities to invest in building upgrades to gain a higher certification level. If adopted, building improvements are then carried out.

Once a building has obtained its final evaluation from auditors, an appropriate level of certification is determined and awarded by the Ministry of the Environment.

Funding – The SBCP offers fiscal and financial incentives to apply for it.

 Innovation – 1) Engagement of owners and tenants SBCP’s innovation lies in its flexibility. It allows certification for both building owners (i.e. the whole building) and tenants (i.e. leased portions of buildings). For commercial buildings, there is no need to obtain certification for a whole building and regarding multi-family buildings, the programme encourages owners to purse building-wide certification, inclusive of private living areas. 2) Holistic certification criteria. The creation of a custom-made sustainability certification scheme for buildings is an uncommon approach for a city government.

Success factors – 1) Ability to foster retrofitting and improved building design. 2) A holistic approach to building sustainability. Giving buildings different options for accumulating points allows the programme to attract more participants, and thereby contributes to greater impacts. 3) Explicit and attractive incentives. SBCP is an incentive-driven initiative where clear fiscal and financial incentives from Mexico City are driving programme uptake. 4) Standardisation. The programme ensures that auditors maintain similar standards and work ethics by mandating trained and certification through Mexico City´s Ministry of the Environment.

Significant outcomes:

  • By 2015, 40 buildings certified achieved a total reduction of 20.1 million kWh of electricity and 66,120 tonnes of CO2e (2009 base year).
  • By 2015, the 40 certified buildings also achieved a savings of 205,690 m3 of potable water.

Synergies with local policies:

Political alignment:

  • The Energy Transition Law promotes the generation of clean power including a minimum share of clean energies in power generation of 25 % by 2018, 30 % by 2021 and by 35 % by 2024 [source].
  • The Transition Strategy to Promote the Use of Cleaner Technologies and Fuels fosters the reduction of polluting emissions caused by the electrical industry and it sets a 35.1% target of total electricity generation by 2024; 39.9% by 2033; and in 2050, a 50% of total electricity generation.
  • General Law on Climate Change establishes the basis for the creation of institutions, legal frameworks and financing to move towards a low carbon economy [source]. The new update on the Law establishes the bases for Mexico to contribute to compliance with the Paris Agreement and the adoption of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) [source].
  • National Energy Strategy represents the opportunity to achieve the necessary consensus among the different sectors and actors to determine what the objectives are as a country in the energy field and the policies needed to achieve them.


SBCP was designed as part of Mexico City’s first Climate Action Programme.

Although SBCP has continually operated independently of the Climate Action Programme, it can be thought of as promoting the voluntary climate leadership portion of city climate goals. The SBCP’s sustainability criteria are also designed to align with current national construction and energy efficiency standards, as well as environmental impact assessment requirements for new construction. Therefore, it can serve as a basis for future national/international SBCP.

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Sector: Buildings

Country / Region: Mexico

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: Urban Efficiency II: Seven Innovative City Programmes for Existing Building Energy Efficiency