Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency - Volume 4, Issue 4

Volume 4, Issue 4

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  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Updates
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Going green pays off for Okanagan College

Two green building projects at Okanagan College in Kelowna, B.C., took top honours at the 2017 Tommie awards held by the Canadian Home Builders Association. The College’s new Trades Complex was recognized with the Best Environmental Initiative in Construction award, and the Wilden Living Lab took home the FortisBC Award for Building Energy Efficiency.

The Tommie Awards showcase vision, talent and commitment in the Okanagan valley building industry and are awarded for a variety of building innovations, including environmental and energy efficiency initiatives. The Best Environmental Initiative in Construction category recognizes sustainability efforts such as recycling and waste minimization, carbon footprint reduction, and energy management and/or water efficiency. The FortisBC award can go to any facility that uses natural gas and shows innovative measures to increase energy efficiency.  

Okanagan valley building
 

The Trades Complex project involved a 10,000 square metre renovation and expansion of existing facilities. The existing space was retrofitted with environmental upgrades, and a three-storey learning space and workshops were added. The facility has incorporated numerous energy-efficient and sustainable elements in an effort to earn LEED Platinum certification and achieve net zero energy performance.

The building’s sustainable features include the following:

  • A connection with a neighbouring wastewater treatment plant to make use of the excess heat from its treated effluent as a source of energy
  • A large photovoltaic solar array that generates enough power to run 25 homes per year
  • Smart technologies such as window automation that regulates heating and cooling based on temperature and sun position
  • On-demand ventilation that significantly reduces energy use in workshops

The Wilden Living Lab is an innovative study project — the only one of its kind in North America — that allows students to monitor and compare the energy use in two homes with the same floor plan built to different energy-efficiency standards. The Home of Today was built to current code requirements and serves as a baseline, while the Home of Tomorrow will push the envelope by exceeding current code requirements and making use of leading-edge sustainable technologies. Both homes will be occupied by real families, and their energy use tracked in real time over a three-year period.

To be recognized in our community for two leading-edge environmental initiatives is very affirming, "says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. We pride ourselves on having set and achieved high standards for sustainability. The Trades Complex and Living Lab demonstrate how we continue to achieve that standard."

Both new construction and existing buildings can maximize their energy efficiency by adopting energy management best practices. These include meeting or exceeding energy codes, using an integrated design process, benchmarking their energy use and undertaking major energy retrofits where appropriate. What projects can we help you showcase?

To read the full article, visit: College’s green buildings earn gold.

Visit the Tommie Awards website for the full list of winners and to learn more about the awards.

Retrofitting your building makes plain business cents

Retrofitting buildings makes economic sense, and not just because of lower operating costs: green buildings can fetch higher rents and retain occupants longer. Moreover, as the cost of carbon increases, more sustainable buildings will have a clear advantage in terms of reduced GHG emissions.

A study of Bentall Kennedy’s North American real estate portfolio of more than 300 buildings found that environmentally friendly office properties commanded nearly 4 percent higher rent. Occupancy rates among their Canadian holdings were also 18.7 percent higher in environmentally certified buildings than in non-certified buildings. Study authors suggest that tenants in these buildings also tend to be happier and "stickier", thus reducing landlord leasing costs associated with tenant turnover.

Net zero for buildings cannot happen overnight so retrofits are essential. Luckily, the building industry is well-equipped with both the knowledge and the technology to make net zero a reality. With tools such as energy benchmarking and a plethora of energy management best practices, building owners and managers can easily go beyond changing light bulbs to deep retrofits. 

In addition, retrofitting aligns neatly with national and international climate change goals, namely that of reducing emissions from buildings and homes through a net zero goal by 2030. Acting now to improve energy efficiency and carry out other green retrofits will reduce emissions and attract/retain tenants in the short and long term.

To find out more about how to identify the most strategic energy-saving investments in your buildings read about energy benchmarking with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

For the full article, visit: The economic case for retrofitting buildings.

Net-positive buildings are energizing office buildings in Canada

Construction is set to begin this month on Evolv1, expected to be one of the most energy-efficient office buildings in Canada. Its owners aim to show not only that net-zero energy is a feasible goal, but that net-positive buildings are also achievable — without paying a significant premium.

"We want to disrupt the industry with what we’re going to build," says Adrian Conrad, Chief Operating Officer at the Cora Group, one of the building’s construction partners. Cora and the project’s other partners, Sustainable Waterloo Region and EY Canada, believe that Evolv1 will change the way offices are built.

Evolv1 will provide a practical example of a highly sustainable building that is financially feasible, with an estimated cost of $35 million for a 10,000 square metre building. As a net positive energy building, it will generate more energy than it needs to operate. The excess power can be sold to the province’s electricity grid or used to power the building's 14 electric vehicle charging stations.

In addition to net positive performance, Evolv1’s owners also intend to pursue LEED Platinum certification. Some of the features to be built into the property that will help them achieve their goals include:

  • Highly-efficient materials such as triple-glazed glass and very high levels of insulation
  • Digitally-controlled LED lighting with occupancy and light level sensors
  • A geo-exchange system that extracts heat from the ground for winter heating and returns excess heat to the ground in the summer
  • Power generated from an array of about 1.5 acres of solar panels on the roof and carport
  • Direct access to the city’s light rail transit system to reduce the environmental impact of commuters
  • Natural light for every occupant
  • A three-storey green wall to improve air quality

Although net-zero energy buildings are becoming more common, net-positive ones are still a rarity. "This project is absolutely ground-breaking," says Tova Davidson, Executive Director of Sustainable Waterloo Region. "If we think about a clean economy, this is a game-changer." Evolv1 aims to prove that net-positive green buildings are not only a viable financial option but a winning one.

To make sure buildings perform as anticipated once built, building operators should make sure the new building is properly commissioned, and then benchmark its energy use with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

For the full article, visit: An office building so green it actually produces energy.

Do you have a net-zero or net-positive energy project to share?  Please contact us!

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Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency is published by Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency and distributed monthly to 16,000 subscribers. Our goal is to deliver meaningful news and information about programs, services and events related to energy efficiency in commercial and institutional buildings and, as well, to share the success stories of organizations that have benefited from positive change. Help us spread the word by sending this link to your colleagues. We encourage you to subscribe to our sister publication that focuses on energy efficiency in industrial facilities, Heads Up CIPEC.

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