Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency - Volume 4, Issue 7

Volume 4, Issue 7

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Check out our Buildings: What’s new? page for the latest details on:

  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Updates
  • Canadian ENERGY STAR certification for buildings
  • New resources and more!
Hockey player scores a goal

Make energy efficiency in arenas your first goal!

Save energy, reduce costs and to improve the environmental performance of your facility with the new 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for ice/curling rinks coming this fall!

Don’t put potential savings on ice: Quebec funding program for modernizing ice/curling rinks

gold dollar sign

More and more Quebec municipal ice/curling rink operators are shooting to score big savings by retrofitting or replacing their refrigeration systems running on ozone-depleting chemicals thanks to Quebec government funding support for refrigeration modernization.

The program stems from a desire to adhere to the Montreal Protocol, which seeks to reduce and ultimately eliminate the use of substances that harm the earth’s ozone layer. Thus, the program is setting aside $31 million to specifically target the replacement/retrofitting of refrigeration systems that use R-12 and R-22 refrigerants.

After the first call for proposals under the program in 2012, the government funded 26 modernization projects for a total of $22 million. The second call in the summer of 2016 resulted in 80 completed projects totalling $57 million in financial support.

To build on this success, Quebec’s Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sport (le ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport) is launching another call for projects targeted at municipal, educational and not-for-profit organizations that operate ice/curling rinks. Eligible projects, which must be completed by March 31, 2020, can receive financial support of up to 50 percent of admissible project costs.

Interested organizations will start by applying for a feasibility study that will inform a decision to either replace or convert the system. Once a decision has been made, the Ministry will provide the tools necessary to go forward with a project application, such as project cost templates, sample submissions and additional guides to help applicants.

Refrigeration modernization is a key step in optimizing energy use in ice/curling rinks, but other energy saving opportunities exist as well. Energy benchmarking is an excellent approach to identifying energy efficiency opportunities, and is the basis for sound and comprehensive energy management given the high energy demands of rinks.

Already benchmarking the energy use of your ice/curling rink? Stay tuned for updates on the upcoming 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for ice/curling rinks. This new score will give ice/curling rink managers a better understanding of their facility’s energy performance — the first step to improving it.

For more information about the program, visit the Ministry website (available only in French) and see the full article on the program (available only in French). You can also learn more about the Survey of Energy Consumption in Arenas, which provided the basis for the upcoming ENERGY STAR score for ice/curling rinks.

Start benchmarking today to learn how to save money in your facility!

B.C. school district shines thanks to successful lighting retrofits

Schools throughout B.C.’s School District No. 43 (SD 43), in Coquitlam, have been retrofitting their lighting systems, with huge results. The district leads the province in energy efficiency upgrades, with numerous projects already completed and more underway.

image of classroom

The energy efficiency campaign started with an LED lighting pilot project at Citadel Middle School, initiated by the district’s Assistant Director of Maintenance Operations. Poroshat Assadian, SD 43’s Energy Manager, recognized that the school’s lighting fixtures — a mix of T-8 fluorescent, compact fluorescent, metal halide, and incandescent — were at the end of their life cycle and accounted for more than 50 percent of the school’s energy consumption. Moreover, many classrooms were overlit, which can cause headaches for students and make it harder to concentrate in class.


Recognizing the significant savings that could be gained from a retrofit, Assadian made a business case that secured the support of school administrators. With an additional incentive from BC Hydro, the return on investment of the project was less than six years. During the retrofits, 1,000 of the school’s 1,500 fixtures were updated, and 500 were removed entirely.

In addition to fixture replacements, the school upgraded the control system by adding dimmable switches with independent front and back zones. Classrooms, hallways, washrooms and the gymnasium now have dual occupancy sensors, so that light levels in these areas can now be dimmed when the areas are unoccupied.

"With benchmarking, we can compare schools within the district and to other schools in the province and the rest of Canada.” - Poroshat Assadian, SD 43 Energy Manager

The project was completed in March 2016 and has reduced electrical energy consumption at the school by 40 percent. Assadian adds that the lighting power density was also reduced from 17.2 watts per square metre to 5.7, which is well below guidelines set out in the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings and ASHRAE standards.


Following overwhelmingly positive feedback from Citadel’s administrators, teachers and students, the school district completed another LED lighting retrofit at Como Lake Middle School in the summer of 2016, with an expected 25-percent savings in electricity consumption. A similar project at the district’s largest school, Terry Fox Secondary, was completed in December 2016.

Assadian notes that these LED lighting retrofits and other energy efficiency projects in the schools have saved the district a total of 1,427,000 kWh in electricity and 15,645 GJ in natural gas. Just last year, the energy cost savings from energy retrofit projects and incentives from BC Hydro and FortisBC returned a total of $800,000 to the district.

Better lights for better learning

The benefits of the LED retrofits go far beyond the energy savings, says Assadian. The new LED lights provide better classroom environments with less noise, require less maintenance and, most importantly, can be adjusted according to student and teacher needs.

The new lights even appear to have a positive effect on learning. Assadian is now piloting another project in the district in partnership with BC Hydro and the University of British Columbia. The project will test the impact of tunable white lights on the learning behaviour and well-being of special needs students at Riverside Secondary. Cory Farquharson, BC Hydro Key Account Manager, is excited about the prospect that the SD 43 pilot project could improve classroom environments for educators and students while being energy efficient and sustainable. 

Assadian encourages other school districts to pursue lighting and other energy efficiency retrofits. She notes that with the ever decreasing cost of LED lighting, there is no reason not to retrofit.

She also notes that energy benchmarking set the stage for the retrofits that followed. Benchmarking allows users to track utility and water consumption, and analyze historical energy usage. “With benchmarking, we can compare schools within the district and to other schools in the province and the rest of Canada.”

As Assadian’s experience shows, schools that are thinking of switching to more efficient lighting and implementing other energy efficiency upgrades should start energy benchmarking with tools such as ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Those school districts or schools already benchmarking can use Portfolio Manager to obtain a score for their K-12 schools. Stay tuned to the  What’s new with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager? page for news and updates.

For the full article, please visit: School District 43 has the light stuff

Google achieves LEED v4 certification for its Kitchener office

Google Inc. has joined the elite ranks of building owners who have achieved LEED v4 certification. The company’s new 9,290 square-metre Google Offices Phase 1, located in a historic building in Kitchener, Ontario, recently earned LEED v4 Silver certification. The project, one of the first LEED v4 certifications for Google, will help guide the company in its future sustainable building projects.

LEED v4 is becoming the international standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance structures. This newest version of LEED raises the bar for sustainable building performance while allowing considerable flexibility. LEED v4 focuses on the nature of building materials and their impacts, indoor environmental quality, smart grid thinking, and water efficiency.

Because indoor air quality was a priority for Google, the building was retrofitted with a ventilation system that maximizes intake of outdoor air. Many of the project’s LEED credits were also earned through the company’s attention to healthy material selection: every material used in the building retrofit was carefully selected to reduce or eliminate toxic substances in the workplace.

The building also features extensive sub-metering to better monitor energy use and identify further energy saving opportunities. Water-efficient fixtures were installed with reduced flush volumes, which are expected to lead to savings of 500,000 litres annually.

Google also considered the environmental implications of its location. The Phase 1 office is located in downtown Kitchener, in the city’s warehouse district, with easy access to public transit and bicycle paths.

Building owners striving to achieve LEED v4 certification or other green building certification can start identifying energy efficiency opportunities by energy benchmarking with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Energy benchmarking is the best way to measure the energy performance of a building over time relative to other similar buildings. If the building is older, owners/managers can implement many measures to improve energy efficiency for existing buildings, as did Google Inc. for its Kitchener location.

For additional information about Google’s LEED v4 office in Kitchener, visit: Google office obtains LEED v4 certification and Google office: Phase 1 in Kitchener, Ontario.

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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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