Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency – Volume 2, Issue 7 (July)

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Volume 2, Issue 7

Coming soon! New Canadian ENERGY STAR Score for Medical Offices

Portfolio Manager is the only tool in Canada that provides a comparison metric based on statistically validated data.

Scores are also available for commercial offices, K-12 schools, hospitals, and supermarkets and food stores.

For more information, visit Energy Benchmarking

As of early August, more than 10,000 medical offices in Canada will be able to easily compare their performance to that of their peers across the country with a new 1-100 ENERGY STAR score designed just for them. The term medical office refers to buildings used to provide diagnosis and treatment for medical, dental or psychiatric outpatient care. Note that medical offices do not include long-term care residences and other inpatient facilities.

Medical offices are always on the lookout for ways to save money without sacrificing patient care, and energy benchmarking is an ideal way to do that. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free, nationally standardized energy benchmarking platform that makes it easy to track energy use and can quickly lead to significant energy savings. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study found that every dollar saved by a medical office is equivalent to $10 in new revenue, so saving $5,000 per year through energy efficiency would be like generating $50,000 in new revenue that could be reinvested into patient care.

Don’t wait! Get started now!

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Access page button

Why not start benchmarking your medical office now, so that you’ll be ready to see your score as soon as it’s available? In addition to basic tombstone data, you’ll just need a few more pieces of information to get your score:

  • Gross floor area
  • Number of workers on the main shift
  • Hours of operation per week
  • Postal code, which will be used to calculate heating and cooling degree days
  • Percent of the building that is cooled
  • 12 months of energy use data for each energy source your building uses

If you’re missing any of the information above, don’t worry; you can still benchmark your facility. Be sure to enter as much information as you have and keep it up to date for the most accurate and complete metrics.

Need some help?

Natural Resources Canada offers resources to help you get started.

Image of a reminder notice for the Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use
Text version

Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use – NRCan needs you!

Have you completed your survey package yet? If not, there is still time!

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) would like to remind building owners and managers about the importance of your support for the Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use (SCIEU).

SCIEU will benefit the Canadian commercial and institutional building sector because results:

  • Will provide NRCan with current energy use data to update existing ENERGY STAR scores and to develop new scores for building types not currently eligible.
  • Will ensure that we have as complete a picture as possible of building energy use in Canada.
  • Will be used by utilities and governments to help develop programs and policies to support you in your efforts to become more energy efficient.

Your cooperation is essential in this process. If you received a survey package or a phone call from Statistics Canada earlier this year but have not yet had a chance to complete the survey, we hope that you will choose to respond and return your completed survey as soon as possible. We will continue to accept completed surveys until August 31, 2015.

If you represent an association or key building sector influencer, NRCan is also asking you to please encourage your members to do their part to contribute to the success of this survey.

Remember: the better the data you provide, the better the information we can provide.

If you have already completed the survey, thank you.

More information:

Please visit our Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency newsletter for previous announcements about SCIEU and its goals.

For more information about the survey, visit our web page on SCIEU.

If you have any questions, please contact us at info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca.


Canadian Building energy efficiency measures are making their mark

The 2015 BOMA BESt National Green Building Report shows a steady increase in certified buildings since the BOMA BESt Program was launched in 2005.

The energy efficiency of Canadian buildings continues to improve, as several recent reports have highlighted. Green building certifications by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) are up, and energy benchmarking, as reported by the Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac), is on the increase. Studies by both agencies show a decrease in energy use intensity in Canada over the last several years.

The 2015 BOMA BESt National Green Building Report shows a steady increase in certified buildings since the BOMA BESt Program was launched in 2005. The program certifies qualifying buildings for four levels corresponding to the adoption of best practices and an intensive building assessment. The program is based on six environmental impact areas:

  1. energy performance and management
  2. water performance and management
  3. waste reduction and site enhancement
  4. management of emissions and effluents
  5. quality of the indoor environment
  6. presence of environmental management systems

Level Four certification, for example, requires that a building meet all BOMA BESt practices related to the six impact areas and achieve an assessment score over 90 percent.

According to the BOMA report, the 2014 group represents the second highest number of certified buildings since program inception. Office buildings represent about 65 percent of these certifications. The report also shows that the implementation of the BOMA BESt program helps building managers improve their performance and reduce their environmental impact over time. Level Two to Four recertified buildings had an average annual reduction in energy use intensity of 0.11 gigajoules per square metre (GJ/m2), or 2.9 equivalent kilowatt hours per square foot (eKWh/sq.ft.). Overall, the average energy use intensity shows a declining trend over the years.

REALpac’s 2014 Energy Benchmarking Report: Performance of the Canadian Office Sector provides a national view of the industry’s energy conserving achievements between 2011 and 2013.

REALpac’s 2014 Energy Benchmarking Report: Performance of the Canadian Office Sector shows similar trends. The report amalgamates data from a sample of 350 buildings from across the country to provide a national view of the industry’s energy conserving achievements between 2011 and 2013.

Normalized energy use intensity fell from 1.07 GJ/m2 (27.7 ekWh/sq.ft.) per year in 2011 to 0.99 GJ/m2 (25.5 ekWh/sq.ft.) per year in 2013. The declining trend means that the sector is on the right path to reach its long-term target of 0.78 GJ/m2 (20 ekWh/sq.ft.) per year. In 2013, 24 percent of participating buildings were operating at or below the target, compared to only 13 percent two years earlier. REALpac also found the ongoing acceptance of benchmarking performance to be increasing over time as the level of knowledge and sophistication in organizations grows.

To meet the 0.78 GJ/m2 per year target, REALpac is relying not just on new, efficient buildings, but also on significant retrofits of older ones, as well as energy efficient operations and the implementation of best practices.

Find the BOMA report at:  http://www.bomabest.com/news-publications/publications/  
Find the REALpac report at: http://www.realpac.ca/?page=RPEBP51Reports

Getting CFO buy-in for energy efficiency projects

Image of a woman holding a compact fluorescent and an incandescent light bulb

Getting buy-in for energy efficiency measures from Chief Financial Officers (CFOs)is very important. Here are a few simple tips that can make the process much easier.

Start small. It’s best to start with small measures as proof-of-concept projects. Propose no-cost or low-cost energy efficiency improvements that have quick and significant returns on investment (ROI). Use these small projects to highlight the six big benefits of energy efficiency. These successes can then pave the way to larger projects with even bigger savings.  Need more support for your argument? Peruse the many reasons to change the way you think  about energy efficiency that can lead directly to savings.

Use benchmarking to support your case. The use of energy benchmarking can help make the results of small projects visible and show that energy is not a fixed cost. NRCan’s benchmarking initiative can help. If there are barriers to benchmarking in the company, look for solutions to overcome energy benchmarking hurdles

Get other employees on board. Employee engagement in energy efficiency is critical to ensuring the short- and long- term success of measures, and to get them engaged, you have to raise their awareness. To help companies develop and deliver an effective Employee Awareness Program (EAP), NRCan offers an EAP toolkit which includes the Team Up for Energy Savings guide, posters, fact sheets, and slide presentations.

Build on other organizations’ successes. In addition to presenting the CFO with small, tangible and quick ROI projects, sharing similar success stories and their associated savings can also be convincing. This is particularly effective if measures have been implemented in a similar business, so that the benefits of investing in energy efficiency at your organization are evident. Some success stories can be found at Circle of Champions and the case studies sections on the NRCan website.

Think like a CFO. It helps when you speak the same language as your CFO. Discuss potential savings, the costs of doing nothing and possible incentives offered by utilities that can help reduce the payback period. Point out that, with increasing emphasis on corporate responsibility, energy efficiency and taking action, the proposed projects can help market the company as green. Presenting a clear financial analysis, especially for projects with significant capital costs, is essential. Why not enroll in NRCan’s Dollars to $ense energy efficiency financing workshop, where you will increase awareness and skills to obtain financing for energy efficiency projects.

Keep the momentum going. Once you have gained your CFO’s support, you need to maintain it through periodic reports that clearly show how much money is being saved over time. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a great, user-friendly tool that can track savings from energy efficiency projects and generate graphs for visual proof of your success. Find out more on NRCan’s Why ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager? page.

For more tips on getting management support for energy benchmarking and energy efficiency projects, visit:

Green leases pave the way to energy savings

Green leases are gaining popularity as effective tools to achieve energy savings and have been shown to improve energy efficiency, leading to high-performing buildings with minimal environmental impact. According to a recent U.S. study, green leases have the potential to reduce energy consumption in office buildings by up to 22 percent and utility expenditures up to US$0.51 per square foot.

What is a green lease?

A green lease is essentially a standard lease in which a few key clauses have been adjusted to better align financial incentives and sustainability goals between a tenant and a landlord. By incorporating such clauses into the earliest stages of lease negotiations, environmental and sustainability initiatives can often be implemented much more seamlessly, because the overarching principles have already been agreed upon, and the resulting benefits will apply to both tenant and landlord.

The benefits of green leasing include the following:

  • It supports corporate sustainability goals
  • It enhances brand image
  • It can increase both rental and sale value of a building
  • It can facilitate other green certifications

Green clauses to consider

If you’d like to make your next lease green, consider including some or all of the following clauses.

Cost recovery

One of the most oft-cited barriers to making energy-efficient capital improvements is the split incentive. In most standard leases, the landlord is responsible for capital costs, and the tenant pays for its own energy use. In such a situation, there is little incentive for a landlord to make energy efficiency improvements, because the savings will be enjoyed mainly by the tenant. A cost recovery clause can help to share the capital costs and resulting savings of upgrades, either through amortization, where the cost is spread out over a period of time, or through savings pass-through, where energy savings are absorbed by the landlord until the capital cost is recouped.

Energy-efficient tenant buildout

Leases often grant tenants the right to design their space as they see fit, which may not align with a landlord’s overall sustainability goals for the building. A green clause might retain the design rights of the tenant, but require that the design follow certain guidelines. These guidelines might include maximum allowed lighting power densities, the use of ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment and limits on plug loads in the tenant space.


Clauses calling for the addition of sub-meters to tenant spaces are a simple way of ensuring that tenants are financially responsible for the energy they consume. Often, simply raising tenant awareness of how much energy they are using is enough to inspire conservation and efficiency efforts that can result in significant savings. These clauses are often supported by language that encourages both tenant and landlord to share energy consumption data when relevant.

Existing building recommissioning

Commissioning is a process that can help make a building run more efficiently by assessing all building systems and their interactions with each other, ensuring that they are scheduled and calibrated appropriately, and making sure that all staff are properly trained on how to operate and maintain them. Including a commissioning clause in a lease means that the cost can be shared between landlord and tenant, and the landlord can count on tenant cooperation during the process. In return, the tenant gets assurance that the landlord is managing the building efficiently, and may have recourse in the lease if building systems are not properly managed.

More and more landlords and tenants are seeing the benefits of green leases, including the Canadian-owned Oxford Properties Group, which owns and operates 4.6 million square metres of real estate. The company has been integrating sustainability principles into its operations and its leases, and was recognized by the U.S. Institute for Market Transformation as a 2014 Green Lease Leader.

Learn more about green leases:

Calendar of events and other important dates

NRCan’s training webinars  - Release of the ENERGY STAR score for medical offices  

National Research Council Canada – Seminars: 2014 Alberta Codes

  • September 2 and 3, 2015 — Calgary, Alberta
  • September 17 and 18, 2015 — Edmonton, Alberta
  • This two-day seminar will help code users understand the code provisions and their impacts, and the technical changes in the 2014 Alberta Building and Fire Codes and the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings.
  • For more information and to register

CAN-QUEST Energy Modelling Training

  • September 16 and 17, 2015 - Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • This is a two-day training overview program of CAN-QUEST, which is a Canadian adaptation of eQUEST, the popular building energy simulation software from the U.S. CAN-QUEST can be used to demonstrate performance path compliance with the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2011.
  • Building Energy Modelling in CAN-QUEST course description
  • Register now

Building Operator Certification - Canadian Institute for Energy Training (CIET)

  • October 21 and 28, November 4, 10, 18 and 25, December 2, 9 and 16, 2015 – Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Eight-module, nine-day energy focused competency-based training and certification program
  • For more information and to register

Energy Management Certificate Program

Offered in collaboration with Langara College in Vancouver

To register, call the Continuing Studies Registration Office at 604-323-5322.

Let us know what you think

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.

We welcome reader feedback and are always interested in your story ideas.

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