Benchmarking - Frequently Asked Questions
ENERGY STAR Benchmarking for Buildings in Canada
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1. Energy Benchmarking
- What is energy benchmarking?
- What are the benefits of benchmarking?
- How much does benchmarking cost?
2. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager – General
- What is ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?
- How can I get training on Portfolio Manager?
- How does the ENERGY STAR 1-100 rating system and the ENERGY STAR score work?
- What property types are eligible to receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?
- Does Portfolio Manager use metric or imperial units?
- Will a score for multi-unit residential buildings and high-rise apartments be available anytime soon?
- Where is Canadian building data being stored?
- How do I benchmark my property if there is no score?
- What should I include in the gross floor area for my building/property?
- How do I enter parking?
- How do I determine occupancy of my building?
- Is it possible to change a Property Use Type (e.g. from Retail to Office)?
- The weather station for my property is incorrect. How do I fix this?
- What constitutes a single structure? What if multiple buildings are connected via hallways, common spaces, etc.?
- How do I account for vacant space at my property?
- Can I enter a negative meter for energy I produce on site and distribute to other buildings?
- What are the eligibility criteria for the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?
- How are Greenhouse gases tracked in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?
- How many property uses should I create?
- How do I aggregate meters and property uses for multi-tenant buildings?
- How do I enter special types of energy (Data Center IT Energy, On-Site Renewables)?
- I have non-food retail and food retail in my store. How do I benchmark it?
- Is a strip mall eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR score?
3. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager – Troubleshooting
- I'm getting an error about numeric values for dates when uploading.
- How do I get rid of meter gaps?
- How do I get rid of meter overlaps?
- How do I select meters to be included in the metrics for my building?
- I’m getting a gross floor area alert. Help.
- How do I edit my building’s gross floor area metrics?
4. ENERGY STAR Certification
- How do I apply for ENERGY STAR certification?
- Is there a fee to use Portfolio Manager or to apply for ENERGY STAR certification?
- When does my application for certification expire?
- When can I re-apply for certification?
- Can I get certification for a property that is not 100% occupied?
- Where can I find the Licensed Professional’s Guide?
- How much does it cost for a Licensed Professional to review an application for certification?
- What can I exclude from my property?
- What do I need to include in my property description?
- How do you respond to eligibility alerts?
- When do I provide additional notes on my application?
- Is the Licensed Professional reviewing the certification application required to be a third party?
- My property consists of more than one physical building. Can I obtain an ENERGY STAR score and apply for ENERGY STAR Certification at the campus level?
- Does an anchor store qualify for certification?
- What should I use for occupancy level if it fluctuates?
- Has COVID-19 affected ENERGY STAR Certification?
5. Web Services
- I am an energy service provider and clients are asking me about exchanging data with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager using web services. What is this and is it available Canada?
- What utilities in Canada offer Web Services?
1. Energy Benchmarking
1. What is energy benchmarking?
Energy benchmarking is the process of tracking and recording a building's energy use and comparing it with that of other buildings similar in size and function. Benchmarking enables you to measure your building's performance against that of other buildings in your sector, against a national average or against a set standard of best practices. You can also compare your building's current performance against its previous performance or against other buildings in your portfolio.
2. What are the benefits of benchmarking?
Benchmarking identifies opportunities you can seize to improve your building's energy performance. By comparing the energy efficiency of your building to that of other facilities, benchmarking helps you prioritize capital upgrades and uncover ways to achieve operational savings. Benchmarking can also help you make your case for recommissioning projects to investors and senior managers. No building owner or manager wants to have a poor energy-performance record.
3. How much does benchmarking cost?
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is free to use, requires no installation, and is accessible from any computer with an internet connection. There may be some cost associated with the time involved in setting up your account and entering your data, but this investment should be minimal, and it offers an excellent return on investment.
See Getting started with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for tips on getting your account set up quickly and easily.
2. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
1. What is ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows you to track and assess energy and water consumption across your entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment. It is free to use and offers weather-normalized energy use intensity values, greenhouse gas emissions metrics, sharing and reporting features, and 1-100 performance scores for eligible building types.
The tool was created by the U.S. EPA, and in 2013, NRCan launched its adaptation of the tool for use in Canada, featuring a bilingual interface, Canadian weather data, and 1-100 energy performance scores for eligible building types, based on real Canadian data.
For more information, see All about Portfolio Manager.
2. How can I get some training on Portfolio Manager?
3. How does the ENERGY STAR 1-100 rating system and the ENERGY STAR score work?
Through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, your energy performance will be rated on a score of 1 to 100. A rating of 75, for example, indicates that your building performs better than 75 percent of similar buildings from an energy consumption standpoint. Scores take into consideration factors such as weather, geographic location, building attributes and operating characteristics.
4. What property types are eligible to receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?
Among the more than 80 property types built into Portfolio Manager, those listed below are eligible to receive a 1–100 ENERGY STAR score, which compares your property to similar properties nationwide. A score of 50 represents median energy performance, while a score of 75 means your building is a top energy performer — and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.
- Commercial office.
- K-12 school.
- Ice/curling rink.
- Medical office.
- Senior care communities and residential care facilities.
- Supermarket/grocery store (includes supermarket/grocery store, food sales, and convenience store with or without gas station)
- Warehouse (includes Non-Refrigerated Warehouse, Refrigerated Warehouse, Distribution Center and Self-Storage Facility) (PDF, 2.78 MB)
- Retail Store (includes Retail stores and Wholesale club/Supercenter) (PDF, 334 KB)
- Hotel/Motel (PDF, 1.02 MB)
5. Does Portfolio Manager use metric or imperial units?
You can choose to enter data and view performance metrics in either imperial units or metric units.
6. Will a score for multi-unit residential buildings and high-rise apartments be available anytime soon?
In 2019, Natural Resources Canada conducted a survey of Multi-Unit Residential Buildings in Canada to obtain statistically sound data with the intention to develop metrics for this commercial sector, including an 1-100 ENERGY STAR score in 2021.
Multi-unit residential buildings can still use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark their energy use against their own past performance. In cases where residential units are metered individually, building owners can work with their utilities to get access to aggregate consumption data that can be used to benchmark their buildings.
7. Where is Canadian building data being stored?
Both Canadian and U.S. data is stored on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) server. Canadian and U.S. data is separated from the US data. The EPA does not have access to Canadian data, and has to obtain authorization from Natural Resources Canada to access Canadian data.
For more information, visit our page on Data safety and security protocol.
8. How do I benchmark my property if there is no score for my building type?
If there is no ENERGY STAR score for your Property Type, you can still use ENERGY STAR Portolio Manager to:
- Compare with the national median. For every property type, Portfolio Manager shows national median values for energy use, and cost. You can access these national median metrics in several places:
- You get a comparison to the national median in the top corner for each property (that doesn't get a score):
- From the Goals tab, you can see a comparison of several metrics against the median
- All of our chart and graph reports show the proportion of your properties that perform better than the median.
- You can create custom reports that incorporate the national median energy, cost, and emissions values. (See full list of metrics) (PDF, 271 KB).
- You get a comparison to the national median in the top corner for each property (that doesn't get a score):
- Compare with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Median. For every Canadian property type, Portfolio Manager shows a regional median value for greenhouse gas emissions that takes into account the regional emission factors and regional fuel mix distributions. These metrics are available everywhere the energy and costs medians area available.
- Benchmark against your property's historic energy performance and set a target reduction. You can enter any property type into Portfolio Manager and track a diverse set of metrics over time, such as the Site Energy, Source Energy, Weather Normalized Energy by Fuel Type, Costs, and Emissions. You can set targets for one or more of these metrics to track improvement between two time periods. The weather normalized values (available for Site Energy, Source Energy, Electricity and Gas) can help you isolate your performance changes while adjusting for changes in weather. You will see some of these metrics right when you click on your property. You can also create a custom report to view even more.
- Establish a benchmark based on the rest of your properties. If you have multiple properties of a similar type without a score, you can calculate the average Source Energy Use Intensity (GJ/m2) across all of your properties. This average can serve as a benchmark by which to judge the relative performance of your properties. You could similarly compare your portfolio using the energy cost, water consumption, or greenhouse gas emissions.
9. What should I include in the gross floor area for my building/property?
The Gross Floor Area (GFA) is the total property area, as measured between the exterior walls of the building(s). This includes all finished areas inside the building(s) including supporting areas.
Include in GFA:
- Tenant areas
- Common areas
- Meeting rooms
- Break rooms
- Atriums (count the base level only)
- Elevator shafts
- Mechanical equipment areas
- Storage rooms
- Laundry rooms
Do not include in GFA**:
- Exterior spaces
- Exterior loading docks
- Covered walkways
- Outdoor courts (tennis, basketball, etc.)
- The interstitial plenum space between floors (which houses pipes and ventilation)
- Crawl spaces
**Although these areas should not be included in your GFA, the energy use associated with these areas is still accounted for. The GFA refers specifically to interior space. However, our algorithms assume that buildings have some outdoor energy use. The energy use evaluated in our algorithms should include all energy required to operate your building, both inside and out.
GFA is not the same as rentable space, but rather includes all area inside the building(s). Rentable, or leasable, space is a sub-set of GFA.
While Parking GFA should not be included in your Property GFA, you may need to enter your Parking GFA if you do not sub-meter it. (Refer to the FAQ “How do I enter parking”.)
10. How do I enter parking?
- Benchmark your parking with your building and include its energy and GFA.
- Do not include Parking GFA in your Self-Reported Property GFA.
- Include your Parking GFA in a separate Parking Property Use.
- Report the GFA of each type of parking (completely enclosed, partially enclosed and open).
- Include all parking energy in your energy meters.
- Regardless of physical connection, the GFA of your Parking (completely enclosed and partially enclosed) cannot account for more than 50% of your total Property GFA.
Why? The ENERGY STAR score provides an assessment of the building, not its parking area. If it is not possible to sub-meter your parking area, then Portfolio Manager will estimate the amount of energy your parking uses and subtract that out before calculating your metrics.
- Sub-meter your parking and exclude its energy and gross floor area (GFA). (*Recommended*)
- Do not enter a parking Property Use.
- Do not enter the energy for your parking.
- If your parking garage is physically connected with your building and part of a single structure, then the parking (completely or partially enclosed) cannot account for more than 75% of the total Property GFA. For example, a property that is 100,000 m2, with 80,000 m2 Parking and 20,000 m2 Office, is considered a Parking Garage by ENERGY STAR and is not eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. This limit does not apply to open parking lots.
- If your parking garage is not physically connected to your building, but rather is a separate structure, then there is no limit as to its size.
11. How do I determine occupancy of my building?
Occupancy is the percentage of your property’s gross floor area (GFA) that is occupied and operational. For example, if you have a 10-storey office building that on average has 9 of its 10 floors fully leased and occupied, the occupancy would be 90%. There is only one occupancy rate for each property as a whole.
You first enter the occupancy when you create the property, but you can change it on the Details tab.
The value you enter for occupancy will not affect your ENERGY STAR score or any other metrics. Your property's score is based on the specific use details (number of workers, number of computers, etc.). So when you have changes to occupancy/vacancy, you need to update your Use Details to accurately reflect the activity at your property.
The value you enter for occupancy could affect your eligibility for ENERGY STAR Certification. We have the following minimum occupancy requirements:
- Office / Financial Centre must be greater than 50%
- Hotel / Motel must be greater than 55%
If you are not seeking certification for one of the above property types, you may not find occupancy very useful (though it is required, so enter a good guess and move on). However, you may find it helpful to compare properties with different occupancy levels across your portfolio using custom reports.
Today, you enter a single occupancy rate, but you cannot track changes over time or see values from previous years. However, the ability to track values over time is on our “wish list” of possible enhancements, and, when built, you will be able to compare your occupancy rate with your energy/water usage for each property.
12. Is it possible to change a Property Use Type (e.g. from Retail to Office)?
No. It is not currently possible to change a Property Use Type once it has been created (e.g. from Retail to Office).
As a work-around, you can delete the old Property Use and add a new Property Use (or add the floor area to an existing property type).
To make this change:
- Open the property to the Details tab.
- Locate the Property Use you wish to replace and gather (print or write down) its Property Use Details, so you can copy them to the new Property Use.
- Return to the Details tab and use the Add Another Type of Use drop-down menu to select the appropriate new Property Use.
- To the right of this drop-down menu, click Add.
- Enter the Property Use Details (hours of operation, gross floor area, etc.). You may need to edit the Current As Of date selected.
- Click Save Use.
- Return to the Details tab and find the Property Use you want to remove. Under the Action column, select Delete Use. A warning notification will pop up. This deletion is permanent.
- Click Continue to delete the incorrect Property Use.
13. The weather station for my property is incorrect. How do I fix this?
If you think your weather station is incorrect, please contact us at email@example.com and let us know the specifics. Portfolio Manager assigns weather stations based on postal codes (zip codes) and there is no way for a user to override this selection.
We get our list of weather stations from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), part of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NCDC updates its data on a regular basis, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency updates historical data in Portfolio Manager on an annual basis to accommodate any modifications and corrections from NCDC.
Properties outside of the U.S. and Canada need to select their own weather stations when they set up a property, because Portfolio Manager does not maintain an inventory of international postal codes.
For more information:
A map of the weather stations used in Portfolio Manager is included in our technical reference document: Climate and Weather (PDF, 455 KB). (See Figure 1 for the U.S. and Canada and Figure 2 for international).
14. What constitutes a single structure? What if multiple buildings are connected via hallways, common spaces, etc.?
A "single structure" is a building where all of its parts share an actual, physical connection that is complete and indivisible. In other words, two buildings must share functional space that cannot be divided among the buildings (such as underground parking, an atrium, or conference space) to be considered a single structure. Hallways or interior walking paths between buildings are not considered functional, shared space, even if they are lighted and/or heated. The building's ownership and shared HVAC system have no impact whether a building is a single structure.
Note - Recommended best practice is to benchmark each building separately because that will isolate potential problems and help you find the most cost-effective improvements. However, we know it’s not always possible. Here are some examples to help you determine if you can pass the "single structure" test.
Example - Single structure:
- An office building that has three storeys of common space including an atrium, a cafeteria, and seamless connections between two towers can be considered a single structure, even though it may appear as two above ground towers.
- A single tower with an office on floors 1-8 and a senior care community on floors 9-14. Although you may think of the office and senior care community as separate, and they may even be run by separate companies, this is one single tower and should be benchmarked at the whole-building level, including both the office and senior care community. Properties that are vertically stacked liked this, are ALWAYS a single structure because they share an indivisible actual, physical connection.
- Side-by-side buildings that share a wall are considered separate buildings because they do not share any functional space (such as a lobby, or underground parking).
Example - NOT a single structure
- An office complex that consists of two buildings connected by an outdoor (covered) walkway is not considered a single structure, and energy use in these buildings must be separately benchmarked.
- Two office towers that have no physical connection, but share a central plant and energy meters, are not considered a single structure because there is no physical, structural connection.
Example - Either a single structure or multiple buildings:
- Two office towers built on top of an underground parking garage may be considered a single structure or (preferably) each of the towers may be benchmarked individually (don't include the parking energy), provided they have complete, measured energy data. The recommended best practice is to benchmark each building separately, but this case may be considered a single property.
If you have a property that cannot qualify as a single structure, but the structures are not separately metered, you may benchmark it as a single building, but you will not be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.
If you want to be eligible for certification, you will need to install an additional meter to separately meter each building. Installing separate meters is an energy management best practice because it will isolate problems and target the most efficient improvement opportunities.
15. How do I account for vacant space at my property?
If an average of 10% or more of your building’s Gross Floor Area is vacant for the 12 months you are tracking, the vacant space must be input as a separate Property Use as follows:
- Property Type = Property Type that it would be if it were occupied (Office, Medical Office, etc).
- Weekly Operating Hours = 0
- Workers on Main Shift = 0
- Number of Computers = 0
- Percent Heated and Percent Cooled = Report conditioning as it occurs in the vacant space
Note: Only Offices, Medical Offices, and Financial Offices are required to enter vacant Property Uses.
16. Can I enter a negative meter for energy I produce on site and distribute to other buildings?
Yes, in certain situations. If you are using a negative meter to capture energy that you produced on site and sell back to the grid or distribute to another building, you can subtract the energy you distribute but you need to make sure you subtract it in the same form that you purchased. Here are two examples:
- Electricity is generated onsite from solar panels and sold back to the grid. The electricity needs of the building are obtained entirely from the grid. The energy produced on-site and sold back to the grid may be entered as negative.
- Using a gas boiler to produce steam, and then measuring steam distributed to the building next door. In this case, the boiler takes gas as an input, but distributes steam. If the fuel purchased (gas) differs from the fuel produced (steam) then additional calculations need to be performed before subtracting anything.
Special calculations are required if subtracting energy produced on site by any of the following:
- CHP Plant
- Onsite Solar or Wind
In these cases, you cannot simply enter negative values directly from the outgoing meter. Rather, you need to follow the instructions below to ensure that you correctly account for the conversion of energy. For more detailed information and specific examples about why these calculations are necessary, please refer to the Technical Reference document for Negative Energy Consumption.
Whenever a negative meter value is entered, you will be asked to indicate the reason for the negative value(s). The following table shows the reasons you can select, and whether or not negative meter entries are appropriate in each situations.
|My utility bill shows negative values.||Yes. But we recommend you double-check with your utility to find out why the value is negative. This could happen if a utility estimates earlier readings and later corrects/fixes your values.|
|I am subtracting energy that I purchased from a utility (such as grid electricity). I am subtracting either:||
|I am subtracting energy that I produced at my property (such as steam from a boiler). I am subtracting either:||
|I am subtracting solar or wind energy generated at my property.||No. We offer a special column in onsite Solar and Wind meters, where you can enter information about exports to the grid or to other properties. You may want to consult the Technical Reference on Green Power.|
|Other.||District system return condensate lines cannot be entered as a negative meter because there is no way to adjust for the efficiency of your specific district steam system.
Or, contact us with a detailed description of your situation, and we’ll let you know what to do.
17. What are the eligibility criteria for the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?
There are several criteria to meet to obtain a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score.
To get a score:
- At least 50% of the building’s floor area (excluding parking lots) must be made up of a single eligible property type.
- Parking area must not be larger than the total gross floor area of the building.
- Ineligible property types can make up no more than 25% of the total floor area.
Energy data: To get a score, you must enter energy meters that account for all energy use for all fuel types (electricity, gas, oil, steam, onsite renewable energy, etc.) in the whole building, regardless of who receives or pays the utility bills. There must be at least 12 full consecutive calendar months of energy data for all active meters and all fuel types.
Use details: Minimum and maximum thresholds for key property use details are noted in the table below.
|Senior care facilities||
18. How are Greenhouse gases tracked in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions are the carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (NOX) gases released into the atmosphere as a result of energy consumption at the property. GHG emissions are expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a universal unit of measure that combines the quantity and global warming potential of each greenhouse gas.
Portfolio Manager tracks several metrics related to your building's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:
- Total Emissions is the sum of your Direct + Indirect emissions (note - your Avoided Emissions are not subtracted here, but can be tracked separately):
- Direct Emissions are associated with onsite fuel combustion (e.g. combustion of natural gas or fuel oil).
- Indirect Emissions are associated with purchases of electricity, district steam, district hot water, or district chilled water. These emissions occur at your utility’s plant not at your property, but they are a result of your property’s energy consumption and therefore contribute to your overall GHG footprint.
- Avoided Emissions - Avoided emissions are the emissions benefits associated with green power use. Avoided emissions may be either onsite or offsite.
- Onsite Avoided Emissions occur when you have an onsite renewable electric system (onsite solar panels or onsite wind turbine) and you retain the rights to the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
- Offsite Avoided Emissions occur when you purchase green power from your utility or an independent supplier and you own the claims to the RECs. They can also occur in the case of REC arbitrage, a transaction where you sell the RECs associated with your own onsite system and purchase other substitute RECs. In this case, the avoided emissions associated with your green power originate from offsite sources, not your onsite system.
- Net Emissions - Net emissions are your property's Total Emissions minus the Offsite Avoided Emissions. You do not subtract the Onsite Avoided Emissions to get this net value, because they have already been counted as zero emissions in your Total Emissions (inventory).
The methodology for calculating GHG emissions was designed to be consistent with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol developed by the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. For more information, refer to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Technical Reference Document (PDF, 840 KB).
19. How many property uses should I create?
In general, you should enter as few Property Uses as possible. For example, consider an office with a restaurant and a health club. It is recommended to enter one Property Use (office) and include the Gross Floor Area (GFA) and energy of the restaurant and health club within the Office Property User. All the other metrics (number of workers, computers, etc.) should also be included in the Office Property Use.
There are four exceptions to this rule. If the Property Use meets any of these four criteria, then it is recommended to create an additional Property Use:
- If the Property Use can get an ENERGY STAR score
- If the Property Use accounts for more than 25% of the property’s GFA
- If it is vacant space within an Office or Medical Office Building and is at least 10% of GFA
- If the Weekly Operating Hours differ by more than 10% for the same Property Use AND that Property Use can get a score (e.g., two office tenants with hours differing by more than 10%)
Note: Do NOT break out an administrative office or storage space within another property type if that space supports the primary property use (e.g., the administrative office of a K-12 School)
20. How do I aggregate meters and property uses for multi-tenant buildings?
Group all uses of the same type into a single property use (unless the property is eligible to break out as a separate property use), adding together all their countable use details (e.g., workers, computers, and refrigeration units). When it comes to entering the data into Portfolio Manager, it is recommended to only enter the total value, rather than each individual tenant meter, unless you are intentionally tracking individual meters.
21. How do I enter special types of energy (Data Center IT Energy, On-Site Renewables)?
For Data Center IT Energy, IT energy should be metered at the UPS output, should include server loads only, and should be included in the main building’s energy meters (this is if you have a data center in your building and you’re not using data center energy estimates, you’re metering your IT energy). If you are not metering your Data Center IT energy but the space meets the definition of a Data Center, you should use the new Data Center Energy Estimates in Portfolio Manager. The same thing applies to on-site renewables.
For more information, please refer to the Green Power Technical Reference Document.
22. I have non-food retail and food retail in my store. How do I benchmark it?
To obtain certification, you must benchmark your store in a single property use type, based on the use with the majority floor area.
- If the largest area of your building is associated with food retail, benchmark your property as either supermarket, food sales, or convenience store.
- If the largest area of your building is associated with non-food retail, benchmark your property as either Retail Store or Wholesale/Supercenter
23. Is a strip mall eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR score?
Entire strip malls cannot receive a single score. Instead, the individual non-food retail and medical offices units within a strip mall can receive scores, if they meet the eligibility requirements for their ENERGY STAR Score.
3. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager – Troubleshooting
1. I am getting an error about numeric values for dates when uploading.
You may get this error when uploading a spreadsheet upload file:
In order for the template to recognize dates, the format of your input in Excel needs to match the date format of your operating system (OS). If the date formats do not match, Excel will not recognize your inputs as dates, and Portfolio Manager will not be able to accept your template.
You can verify/modify the format of your Windows operating system by:
- Opening the “Control Panel.”
- Selecting “Region and Language.”
- Choosing your preferred format in the “Short date” field:
2. How do I get rid of meter gaps?
If you get an alert that you have meter gaps, this means your meter bills do not cover every single day of the year.
Our meter rules:
- The Start Date of a meter entry can be:
- the same day as the End Date of the last meter entry
- the day after the End Date of the last meter entry
- You will get a warning message if there are any days not covered in a meter entry beginning with the Date Meter became Active. If you’re missing data from years ago, and you're not concerned with metrics for that year, ignore it.
- You will NOT get metrics for a given year if you are missing any days, for any active meters, within that 12-month period.
How to fix:
- Click on a date to update it, then click Save Bills at the bottom of the screen.
- If you need to add a new entry, click Add Another Entry, enter the data, then click Save Bills at the bottom of the screen. After you save, it will be put into chronological order.
3. How do I get rid of meter overlaps?
If you get an alert that you have an "overlap" in a meter, this means you have two or more meter bills that cover the same day(s) within the year.
Our meter rules:
- Meter dates can overlap at the most by one day (the End Date of one bill = the Start Date of the next)
- You will get a warning message if there are any overlaps in meter entries. If your overlapping data is from years ago, and you're not concerned with metrics for that year, ignore it.
How to fix:
- Click into a date or quantity to update it, then click Save Bills at the bottom of the screen.
- If you have duplicate entries (a common mistake), you'll need to delete one: check the box next to the entry, click Delete Selected Entries, then Save Bills. See this FAQ for more info.
4. How do I select meters to be included in the metrics for my building?
On the Energy tab (or Water or Waste tabs) you can Change Meter Selections (find the link above the table that lists your meters). On this page (see below), you select which meters to include in your metrics, and whether those meters account for all of the property's energy (or water/waste).
Most properties will check the boxes for all their meters, and select the first option: “These meters account for the total energy...”
Buildings with sub-meters and sometimes campuses will have different answers.
5. I am getting a gross floor area alert. Help!
If you are getting a gross floor area (GFA) alert, it might be because you changed the GFA of one Property Use, but didn’t change another Property Use to offset it, on exactly the same day, in the exact same amount. For example, say you have an Office & Retail Property with a total GFA of 40,000 m2:
On December 1, 2015, you vacated 5,000 m2 of the Office to expand your Retail Store. You adjusted the Office Property Use down by 5,000 m2 on December 1, 2015. But since the new Retail Store didn’t open until January 1, 2016, you did not adjust that GFA up by 5,000 m2 until January 1, 2016. But now your Property Uses don’t add up to the property total of 40,000 m2:
The problem is that there is 5,000 m2 unaccounted for during one month (you subtracted 5,000 m2 on December 1, but added 5,000 m2 on January 1). Because your Property Use GFAs are all time-weighted, the GFA for a property use may look funny for the 12 months after a change. But the total of all Property Uses (“Property GFA (Buildings)”) should always add up to the total GFA for your property.
Please note this will not affect your property's eligibility for ENERGY STAR Certification.
6. How do I edit my building’s gross floor area metrics?
Your property’s Gross Floor Area (GFA) is tracked in four different metrics:
- Property GFA – Self-Reported is the number you enter when you first create a property. It can be edited on the Details tab, under Basic Information. This value does not change over time, and it is not time weighted. If you edit it, it deletes the previous value without saving a record of what it had been.
- Property GFA – ENERGY STAR Calculated (Buildings and Parking) is the sum of the GFA of all the Property Uses that you entered on the Details tab, including parking GFA. This value is time weighted.
- Property GFA – ENERGY STAR Calculated (Buildings) is the sum of the GFA of all the Property Uses that you entered on the Details tab, excluding parking GFA. This number should match your “Property GFA – Self-Reported.” If you have Property Uses that change area frequently (like office space going vacant), this is a good check to make sure all of your Property Uses add up to the right number. This value is time weighted.
- Property GFA – ENERGY STAR Calculated (Parking) is the sum of the GFA of your Partially Enclosed and Completely Enclosed Parking Property Uses that you entered on the Details tab. This value is time weighted.
Your Self-Reported GFA should equal either the total for Buildings only, or for Buildings and Parking, depending on how you are benchmarking your parking. Learn more about how to benchmark parking.
4. ENERGY STAR Certification
1. How do I apply for ENERGY STAR Certification?
You apply for ENERGY STAR certification from within Portfolio Manger. Eligible building types will have a link to apply at the top of the screen. For step-by-step instructions, Natural Resources Canada has developed a "How-To Guide”.
ENERGY STAR certification is awarded to eligible building types that earn an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher, indicating that it performs better than at least 75% of similar buildings nationwide.
Certification is given on an annual basis, so a building must maintain its high performance to be certified year to year. The information submitted in the certification application must also be verified by a licensed professional to be eligible for approval.
2. Is there a fee to use Portfolio Manager or apply for ENERGY STAR certification?
No. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free tool administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
If you plan to pursue ENERGY STAR certification, there is no fee to apply; however, you may need to pay a licensed professional to make a site visit and certify that your application is correct before submitting it to Natural Resources Canada.
3. When does my application expire?
Your ENERGY STAR certification application is based on 12 months of energy consumption information. You have 120 days from the last day of this 12-month period to submit your application to Natural Resources Canada. Additionally, if questions sent to the applicant are not answered within 30 days, the application will expire.
4. When can I re-apply for certification?
In most cases, you are eligible to re-apply for ENERGY STAR certification 11 months after the Year Ending Date of your last approved application. For example, if you received certification for the year ending March 2016 (4/1/2015 – 3/31/2016), your next eligible Year Ending Date will be February 2017 (3/1/2016 – 2/28/2017).
Because the year on your ENERGY STAR certification is based on the date when your application is approved, regardless of your Year Ending Date, we allow some flexibility to make sure you can get consecutive certifications. If you submitted an application with a Year Ending Date between August 2016 and December 2016, AND you were awarded certification for the 2016 label year, your next eligible Year Ending Date is July 2017.
If you've already earned certification this year, your next eligible period will be 11 months after your previous Year Ending Date. You can submit your application anytime, but it will be put on hold until we start processing next year’s certifications in January.
The process for re-certification is the same as the initial certification, and another site visit by a Licensed Professional is required.
5. Can I get certification for a property that is not 100% occupied?
Yes. You can apply for ENERGY STAR certification as long as the property maintains an average occupancy at the required level for the 12-month period of assessment.
These property types have minimum Occupancy requirements:
- Office/ Financial Office – 50%
- K-12 School - open 8 months/year
- Hotel/Motel - 55%
6. Where can I find the Licensed Professional Guide?
The Licensed Professional Guide for Canadian ENERGY STAR certification can be found on our website. It provides you with everything you need to know about verifying applications for ENERGY STAR certification. It outlines the step-by-step process and is required reading if you’re verifying applications for ENERGY STAR certification.
7. How much does it cost for a Licensed Professional to review an application?
The cost for a Licensed Professional to review your ENERGY STAR application will depend on the size of your building and local costs. You will have to confirm these costs with your LP.
8. What can I exclude from my property?
The best practice is to include all of a property’s Gross Floor Area (GFA) and energy use when benchmarking. However, here are a few examples of energy that may make sense to exclude (provided it is sub-metered) from your property:
- Cell towers
- Parking garages
- Electric vehicle charging stations
- outdoor, heated pools (note: indoor pools should not be excluded)
- A large billboard or projection screen on a building (or in your parking lot) when the sign is not related to the use of the building. (A sign displaying the company's name or anything related to the business SHOULD be counted towards the buildings use.)
Regarding certification, any Property Use that can receive a score such as data centers, must be included. Specifically, data center energy use must be included in the total building energy use and not sub-metered and excluded. These Property Uses cannot be excluded from an application under any circumstance.
You may exclude a Property Use from a building (and for ENERGY STAR certification) if ALL of the following four conditions are met:
- The Property Use must be less than 10% of the building’s Gross Floor Area (GFA)
- The Property Use must not be a property type eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR score
- The Property Use must be sub-metered so that both the Property Use’s floor area and energy consumption can be excluded
- The Property Use’s energy use patterns must be significantly different than those of the rest of the building (ex: A cell phone tower on a building)
9. What do I need to include in my property description?
The property description must answer the following questions:
- What is the property used for? What is its function?
- Who are its occupants/tenants?
- Are there any notable amenities or features?
This will help streamline the certification process.
10. How do you respond to eligibility alerts?
Eligibility alerts do not mean that your application is unacceptable. These alerts flag aspects of your property that may be inaccurate, inconsistent, unusual, or even a typo. If you receive eligibility alerts during the application process, the first thing to do is make sure that the flagged information is accurate. If all information is accurate, then provide a detailed explanation, making sure to answer all parts of the question(s) asked. Do not be vague when providing your detailed explanation.
11. When do I provide additional notes on my application?
Additional notes are needed when there is data that may look unusual or inaccurate. Any data that may look like an error should be explained in a note.
12. Is the Licensed Professional reviewing the certification application required to be a third party?
No. The Licensed Professional (professional engineer or registered architect) who performs the site visit and signs off on the application can be an employee of the organization applying for certification.
13. My property consists of more than one physical building. Can I obtain an ENERGY STAR score and apply for ENERGY STAR Certification at the campus level?
The property types eligible to receive an 1-100 ENERGY STAR Score in Canada as a campus are:
- K-12 schools
- Ice/curling rinks
- Senior care communities and Residential care facilities
- Self-storage facilities
The following property types are eligible to receive an 1-100 ENERGY STAR score in Canada as single buildings only:
- Offices and Financial Offices
- Medical Offices
- Refrigerated Warehouses, Non-Refrigerated Warehouses, and Distribution Center
- Retail Stores, Wholesale Club/Supercenter
- Supermarkets, Food Stores, Convenience Stores
14. Does an anchor store qualify for certification?
Yes, an anchor store in an enclosed mall can receive an ENERGY STAR score as a Retail Store. If it meets all the requirements for certification, then it may certify.
15. What should I use for occupancy level if it fluctuates?
The occupancy level is important to get right when applying for ENERGY STAR Certification for these property types, which have a minimum occupancy requirement:
- Office and Financial Office: >50%
- Hotel / Motel > 55%
If you have one of these property types and the occupancy level fluctuates, calculate the average occupancy over a period of time (if you are applying for certification, the occupancy needs to be based on the year in your application). For example, if the property was 50% occupied for the first half of the year, then 100% occupied for the second half of the year, the occupancy level would be 75% for the year.
If you are not seeking certification for one of these property types, don’t overthink it (though it is required, so enter a good guess and move on). Your occupancy rate does not affect your score or any of your metrics.
16. Has COVID-19 affected ENERGY STAR Certification?
Yes. Due to COVID-19, some of our certification rules have been modified. Please adhere to the following guidance in determining when you may apply for certification:
1. All buildings should update their use details to reflect changes in operations due to COVID-19.
We recommend that you update the following use details (if applicable for your property type). These updates should reflect changes which occurred as part of the response to COVID-19, and updates should be made using the using the “Update with New Information” function in Portfolio Manager.
- Number of Workers on Main Shift
- Weekly Operating Hours for all time periods
2. To apply for 2021 ENERGY STAR Certification, buildings may apply with the most recent data available:
- NRCan will accept Period Ending Dates as early as October 31, 2020 for 2021 ENERGY STAR Certification.
- ENERGY STAR Certification applications must continue to include at least 11 months of new data.
- To be eligible for 2021 ENERGY STAR Certification, buildings must be in operation for a minimum number of months as outlined in the table below. You will be asked to confirm the number of months of operation when submitting your application.
3. What does months of operation mean?
Months of operation is the number of months in which the building was occupied with at least some workers. If only maintenance staff was in the building, this would not be considered operational.
- Retail – Completely closed means that no business was being conducted from the store and there were no interactions between store employees and shoppers. If the store was open for curbside pick-up only, or for processing and shipping of online orders, this time is considered operational. The 60 days of closure do not need to be consecutive
- Hotel – Completely closed means the hotel was not accepting reservations or guests. If the hotel was accepting reservations but had no guests, this time is considered operational. The 60 days of closure do not need to be consecutive
- K12 Schools – Completely closed means the school did not have any teacher or student on site. If school was delivered via a hybrid model, where some students were in person and some at home, this is considered operational. The months operational do not need to be consecutive. The 60 days of closure do not need to be consecutive and the regular summer closure does not count towards the 60 days.
4. Buildings have additional options for Site Visits. These flexibilities are designed to help you meet site visit requirements:
- If your building received 2020 ENERGY STAR certification and a site visit was conducted for that application, you may reuse that site visit for your 2021 application.
- If any portion of the building is operating, even if not fully occupied, you may conduct the site visit and take measurements in the spaces where workers are present.
- New site visits may be conducted anytime during the application period, or later. The rule which requires that the site visit be conducted during the 12 months covered in the application or within 120 days afterward remains suspended.
|Property Types||Over the 12 months in the application, the building must meet the following additional requirements|
|Office and Financial Offices||
No additional requirements if operational changes were implemented
Cannot be fully closed for more than 6 months
|Warehouses, including Non-Refrigerated Warehouses, Refrigerated Warehouses, Distribution Centers and Self-Storage Facilities||No additional requirements|
|Hotel/Motel||Cannot have been fully closed for more than 60 days|
|Retail, including Retail Stores and Wholesale Club/Supercenters||Cannot have been fully closed for more than 60 days|
|Hospitals||No additional requirements|
|Supermarket, including Convenience Stores with and without gas stations, Food Sales and Supermarket/Grocery Store||If reduced operations* were implemented, the reduced operations cannot be for more than 8 months|
|Senior Care Community and Residential Care Facilities||If reduced operations* were implemented, the reduced operations cannot be for more than 5 months|
|Medical Offices||If reduced operations* were implemented, the reduced operations cannot be for more than 5 months|
|K-12 Schools||Cannot have been fully closed for more than 60 days (this does not apply to the closure during summer) and must be fully operational for at least 3 months|
|Ice Rinks||The building must have operated for at least 5 months with ice present|
*Reduced operations means a reduction of personnel on site.
5. Web services
1. I am an energy service provider and clients are asking me about exchanging data with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager using web services. What is this and is it available in Canada?
Data exchange via ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager web services is a way for a utility or service provider’s database to interact directly with Portfolio Manager. This is a valuable service for your clients, as it eliminates the need for them to manually enter data into the tool. These services are available in Canada, and a number of Canadian utilities are offering them to their clients. NRCan currently does not have a list of Canadian organizations that are providing web services on our website.
NRCan and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offer a free, flexible application programming interface that will enable you to build web services that fit your unique needs and those of your clients.
See Data exchange with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager web services for more information.
2. What utilities in Canada offer Web Services?
1. Who should I contact if I have additional questions or comments?
For general inquiries related to energy benchmarking, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For all inquiries related to ENERGY STAR certification in Canada, please contact email@example.com.
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