Andrew Freitas jokingly calls himself WiredScore’s “one-man show” in Canada, where he’s been hired to lead the digital connectivity certification agency’s nationwide expansion plans.
WiredScore established its presence in Canada almost two years ago and will soon reach the 50-million-square-foot plateau for certified building space across the country. But until now, it has been servicing Canadian clients through its New York head office.
“We’re going to continue to speak and work with our clients and look to grow the footprint nationally,” Freitas told RENX recently over the phone from New York City, where he was spending time with his new WiredScore colleagues. “We have ideas in our mind of what the growth of the team would look like, but we want to take a really good look at the market before making those decisions.”
WiredScore’s Wired Certification has become an internationally recognized rating system for commercial real estate that helps landlords design and promote their buildings’ digital connectivity and technological capacity to tenants.
“It was exciting for me to see an opportunity to help steer our industry in Canada to ensure that we stay as a global leader in that perspective,” said Freitas.
More than 500 million square feet of commercial real estate in more than 2,000 buildings in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland and Canada have been Wired Certified since WiredScore launched in New York in 2013.
How Freitas got here
Freitas, who’s now working out of a downtown Toronto office for WiredScore, began his real estate career in 2008 as a tenant representation broker at Newmark Knight Frank Devencore. He then moved to Ellington Tenant and Facilities Services as vice-president and sales representative.
After taking four years off from the real estate industry, Freitas returned to work with CoStar Group for a year-and-a-half as an account executive before assuming his new role as head of Canada for WiredScore.
“It was an incredible opportunity for me to learn other facets of our industry,” Freitas said of CoStar. “The companies I worked for were more on the ownership, investment and developer side, so I got to know their business by way of the way they use information and data.
“It gave me a really great lens to look at WiredScore’s business.”
Research from CoStar and EG Radius shows that Wired Certified buildings command higher rents than their peers. They also attract a higher proportion of technology, advertising, media and information tenants than unrated buildings.
WiredScore in Canada
WiredScore has certified 44.3 million square feet of office space in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Halifax.
WiredScore’s Canadian clients include such prominent commercial real estate owners as Ivanhoé Cambridge, Hines, GWL Realty Advisors, Dream Office REIT, Cadillac Fairview, Northwest Healthcare Properties, QuadReal Property Group, KingSett Capital and Slate Asset Management.
WiredScore’s New York executives oversaw all Canadian operations before Freitas was hired. This fact surprised Freitas, considering the number of large-building owners and developers working with the company.
“The team did a great job because I’m learning that all of our clients seem to really enjoy working with us,” said Freitas.
Freitas will work to expand the Wired Certification program and deliver WiredScore’s advisory services across the Canadian commercial real estate market.
“One of the things that WiredScore does really well, and what I’ll be responsible for managing right across Canada, is interacting with all levels of an organization,” said Freitas.
How WiredScore helps building owners
Freitas will deal with people working in leasing, asset management, and acquisition and disposition strategies. He said WiredScore can come into play in learning what digital infrastructure a building has before an acquisition, or ensuring that a structure is properly positioned and in the best possible condition before being taken to market.
Freitas is encouraged by how much interest landlords have in Wired certifications considering the low vacancy rates in many buildings and cities across Canada.
“There’s a tremendous amount of value we’re adding to the development and redevelopment processes,” said Freitas.
“But at the end of the day, the existing building owners really need to understand how to future-proof their buildings and keep up with new developments and, effectively, not become obsolete.”
With technology companies helping tobdrive the Canadian economy and office boom, Freitas said it’s imperative for landlords to make sure the connectivity infrastructure in their buildings is of a high enough quality to attract and retain them as tenants.
“All of these great in-building technologies and apps and all of these things that companies are looking to do in commercial real estate really can’t go anywhere if there’s not proper digital infrastructure in the building.
“That’s why it’s so exciting to be on the ground floor of helping all of that grow in Canada.”