Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency – Volume 2, Issue 8 (August)

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Volume 2, Issue 8

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager score now available for medical offices

ENERGY STAR Performance Scores banner image

Medical offices are the newest building type eligible for a 1-100 ENERGY STAR performance score in Canada. With the new score, owners and operators of medical offices can now quickly and easily see how the performance of their buildings stacks up against other medical office buildings in Canada.

The ENERGY STAR score provides a fair assessment of energy performance by comparing buildings’ climates, weather and business activities. Using statistical analysis, ENERGY STAR predicts a building’s energy use and then compares it to its actual energy use to yield a percentile performance ranking in relation to the national population. A score of 75 indicates that the building performs better than 75 percent of all medical offices nationwide. ENERGY STAR scores are based on data obtained from the Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use - Buildings 2009.

The following information, in addition to basic tombstone data, including your postal code, is required for a medical office score:

  • Building size
  • Number of workers on the main shift
  • Hours of operation per week
  • Percent of the building that is cooled
  • At least one full year of energy bill data

If your building is already registered in Portfolio Manager, you have probably already entered most of this information, so all you need to do is confirm that it’s up to date. For the most accurate score, make sure that you replace any default values with your actual building information, and update your energy bill data at least quarterly.

Visit our Energy benchmarking for medical offices page for more information and resources to help you benchmark your medical office.


Energy benchmarking in medical office buildings leads to high energy performance

Medical offices are not only doing their part for public health, but also making headlines in energy efficiency. In the U.S., many have implemented energy saving measures using the ENERGY STAR program and Portfolio Manager with impressive results. The following three offices in the U.S. offer great examples of energy benchmarking and ideas for energy efficiency measures that could be applied elsewhere.

The Jonesville Eye Care building in Jonesville, Minnesota, was built with energy efficiency in mind. Constructed in 2004, the building features T-8 lighting, properly sized heating and cooling systems, and above-code insulation. Moreover, an energy monitoring plan ensures that the facility continues to operate efficiently.

The energy management team at Jonesville Eye Care started its journey in 2009 by assessing the building’s energy baseline using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. At a baseline rating of 97, the building was already well above the national average, yet the team and staff continue to strive for higher energy efficiency goals—they are aiming to earn the ENERGY STAR for superior energy performance over the next few years.

As Michael Biddle, the owner of Jonesville Eye Care, notes, “energy efficiency has always been an important part of our business strategy, and we as an organization are constantly looking for opportunities to reduce our costs and energy use. Through monthly monitoring and reporting of our energy data, we plan to ensure that Jonesville Eye Care runs at high efficiency, allowing us the opportunity to earn the ENERGY STAR each year.”

Dr. Diana Driscoll, who co-owns and manages Keller Parkway Properties in Keller, Texas, also took advantage of energy benchmarking to increase energy efficiency at her facility. Keller Parkway Properties, a medical office building, was already well-constructed, but there were still improvements to be made.

For example, solar screens were installed on the windows on the building’s west side, additional insulation was added to another side, and window film was applied on windows on three sides of the building. In addition, efficient lighting was used for most of the building’s lighting needs.

With the use of Portfolio Manager, Dr. Driscoll determined a baseline energy performance score of 83. She notes, however, that "we don't want to rest on our baseline reading — we plan to continue our efforts to improve the greening of our building, and to develop programs to make certain that the efficiencies are properly maintained." She and her team are already planning to add motion sensors to increase savings from lighting and to implement an HVAC filter replacement schedule.

Also in Texas is the Spring Branch Professional Building, which has been using Portfolio Manager since 2003. The medical office facility located in Houston is owned and managed by Healthcare Realty Services. Energy benchmarking of the building led the way for numerous efficiency measures.

Early on, existing T-12 lighting was retrofitted with T-8 technology. The building also has an exterior insulation and finish system, which improves insulation performance, and reduces heating and cooling loads. Moreover, the building is heated and cooled with 186 water-source heat pumps, which are actively maintained and replaced when required. Each pump is controlled by an individual thermostat, which is run at a constant temperature 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company plans to install occupancy-based programmable thermostats on each pump to further increase savings.

Healthcare Realty Services also attributes the building’s energy efficiency to its experienced maintenance staff, which champions preventative maintenance. Joyce Tyler, the building’s property manager, says, “We have earned the ENERGY STAR in large part due to the participation and hard work of the employees. We have also been blessed with an administration that understands that capital investments into a facility can result in energy savings.”

Visit the following resources for information on energy benchmarking and other topics to help you on your journey to energy efficiency:

Healthcare embraces energy benchmarking for big savings

Piggy bank with stetoscope image

Healthcare facilities are becoming increasingly energy efficient by using energy benchmarking to identify savings opportunities requiring limited capital investments. One successful group is Greening Health Care (GHC), a Canada-wide collective of hospitals, which uses Performance Based Conservation to identify building systems or operational practices that contribute to poor energy performance.

Performance Based Conservation uses energy data to benchmark hospitals against similar facilities and to analyse utility data trends over time. To guide its members along the energy efficiency path, the GHC also offers webinars and workshops to facility managers so they can learn the ABCs of energy benchmarking and how significant savings can be achieved from smaller-scale projects.

The Grand River Hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo, for example, has lowered its annual energy use by 13.3 percent since 2012. Similarly, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare has achieved energy savings of nearly $200,000 over the same time period. Strategies that increase energy efficiency in hospitals, particularly energy benchmarking, can also be applied to other healthcare facilities, such as medical office buildings.

GHC’s approach is grounded in energy benchmarking because an understanding of an organization’s energy consumption is the first step in the journey to significant energy savings. As Ian Jarvis, GHC’s energy efficiency expert, says, “acting without listening to what the energy data is saying is like operating before the diagnosis.” By establishing a baseline, healthcare facility managers can invest strategically in energy efficient upgrades and evaluate the effectiveness of implemented measures. Many healthcare facilities are already using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free, online tool that provides accurate Canadian building energy data and assessments for the commercial and institutional buildings sector.

Energy benchmarking can help make the business case for energy projects, inform energy efficiency goals, and provide motivation for action in energy improvement. It is an effective way to ensure ongoing improvement and is the starting point for any long-term energy management plan. Once benchmarking is integrated into an organization’s culture, the benefits of additional energy management approaches become clear.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) offers an array of resources for healthcare facility managers to guide them to successful energy management:

  • The Energy Benchmarking Primer is a comprehensive summary of the benefits of benchmarking, with case studies and testimonials from all sectors, including healthcare.
  • Our Energy management training pages offer a wealth of information on and options for energy management training to help you ensure sustainable energy savings by increasing awareness of individuals who are responsible for energy use and staff in general. Training options include the Dollars to $ense workshops, which can be customized to specific sectors or facilities; training on CAN-QUEST (a building energy simulation software) and Portfolio Manager; and a host of external training programs.
  • Our Energy management best practices section provides guidance on how to incorporate benchmarking, training and other recommended practices into your organization’s operations. Check out the Energy Management Best Practices Guide for even more tools and information.
  • Discover information on the Health Care Energy Leadership Program: an initiative of My Sustainable Canada and the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care whose purpose is to promote energy efficiency at healthcare facilities across Canada.

Energy savings, at little or no cost, are available to facility managers/owners who embrace energy benchmarking and take advantage of the available resources. For more information on energy benchmarking, visit NRCan’s Benchmarking site.


Calendar of events and other important dates

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

  • Starting October 20, 2015 – Toronto, Ontario
  • Starting November 4, 2015 – Calgary, Alberta and Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Starting November 18, 2015 -  Vancouver, British Columbia and Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Starting November 24, 2015 – Québec, Québec (offered in French only)
  • Eight-module, nine-day energy focused competency-based training and certification program

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.