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Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency

Volume 4, Issue 6

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  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Updates
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  • New resources and more!

Energy efficiency upgrades to commemorate Canada’s 150th

Commemorate Canada’s 150th


In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, Canadians from coast to coast to coast will celebrate our country’s history, not just on Parliament Hill, but in their own communities, at their local arenas and recreation centres. So what better year to make sure that those community gathering spots are as energy-efficient as they can be?

To mark the celebration, the Government of Canada’s Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program is investing $300 million to retrofit and improve existing community infrastructure assets and facilities, including projects that ensure a better future for Indigenous peoples and promote a clean growth economy, such as upgrades that reduce water and energy, or installing renewable energy systems.

The Stoney Tribal Nation in Morley, Alberta, for example, received $150,000 for renovations to the Morley Community Recreation Centre. “This is one of the central community buildings,” said Ken Christensen, Acting Tribal Administrator and CFO. “It’s primarily used for hockey, but other events are held there.”

Morley Recreation Centre

Photograph by Tim Hall. Reprinted with permission.

Garry VanKeimpema, the project’s engineer, said that the funding was used to upgrade the centre’s changing rooms – including new tiles for the showers, walls and floor; new water-efficient fixtures; and LED lighting – and to replace the flat roof.

“There was hardly any insulation up there at all before,” said VanKeimpema. “We took out the old flat roof, stripped it down and rebuilt it, with much more insulation.” The insulation level has been improved to R-22, from what was likely R-8 or lower.

According to research conducted by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, community centres are the largest energy consumers for many municipalities. They operate for many hours a day, seven days a week, and can have a variety of different uses—ice rinks, swimming pools, gymnasiums, public meeting spaces—all with different energy needs.

That’s certainly the case for The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre in Banff, Alberta. The Fenlands, which boasts two hockey rinks, four sheets of curling ice, and several offices and other community function spaces, is the largest municipal consumer of electricity after the water treatment plant (electricity costs were more than $130,000 per year in 2015).

Funding from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP 150) will cover about half of the cost to add a 280-kW solar array to The Fenlands roof; the work is expected to be completed in June 2017. Shannon Ripley, Banff’s Manager of Environmental Services, said that the array will generate about one quarter (23 percent) of the centre’s annual electricity consumption, and save the town about $15,000 per year in electricity costs. A real-time energy display in the centre’s lobby will also let users see how much power the array is producing.

The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre

“As an active mountain community, recreation helps foster our personal wellness, social cohesion, and quality of life for everyone,” said Ripley. “In addition to being great for solar, The Fenlands is a prominent location for education programs with both locals and visitors.”

In 2009, The Fenlands was entirely rebuilt to LEED Silver standards. “During its renovation, The Fenlands was fitted with a new roof made with highly durable Glulam beams, giving it a life expectancy of around 100 years,” Ripley explained. “This makes it an ideal foundation for a solar energy project, which itself is expected to be operational for at least 25 to 30 years.”

Lighting retrofits may not be as glamourous as a solar array, but switching to high-efficiency lighting is one of the most cost-effective energy projects that can be done. Even the simplest upgrades can save 50 percent or more in electricity costs.

The Chestermere Regional Recreation Centre will replace the approximately 160 lights in their two hockey rinks, curling rink, hallways, and lobby space this July. CIP 150 funding will cover about half of the $90,000 cost.

Happy Birthday, Canada!

The Government of Canada’s Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program is investing $300 million to retrofit and improve existing community infrastructure assets and facilities.

“Energy upgrades can be costly, so when you have grants like this, it really helps,” said Jody Nouwen, General Manager of the Chestermere Regional Community Association. Chestermere will also be trying out a relatively new lighting technology for the lobby and hallways: LED panel lights. “Instead of changing individual bulbs, the whole panel will be replaced,” she said. “We’ve seen the panels in other places, and it definitely makes things lighter and brighter, and will save on maintenance costs, too.”

The City of Airdrie, 150 kilometres east of Banff, is also benefitting from CIP 150 funding. A grant of about $293,000 will cover half the cost to upgrade the siding and insulation at the 25-year-old Ron Ebbesen Arena, with the city covering the remaining costs.  An earlier energy audit of the arena indicated that the building could lower its carbon footprint by adding more insulation and new siding. The upgrades are expected to improve the arena’s insulation level from R-2 to R-20.

Ice and curling rink owners and operators can join the benchmarking movement now to measure their energy use and identify areas to improve. This fall, ice/curling rinks will become the seventh building type to be eligible for a Canadian ENERGY STAR score. Because of the high energy demands of creating and maintaining ice surfaces, energy management is particularly important for these facilities. The new score will give ice/curling rink managers a powerful tool to help them understand their energy performance, which is the first step to improving it. For more information, please visit What’s new with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

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!

Edmonton launches three-year energy benchmarking pilot

Logo The City of Edmonton

On June 5, 2017, the City of Edmonton kicked off its three-year Large Building Energy Reporting & Disclosure (LBERD) pilot program to benchmark the energy performance of its largest buildings (20,000 sq. ft. or larger).

Participating building owners and managers will have access to technical support, workshops and other educational opportunities; incentives to help offset the cost of an energy audit; information on provincial and federal rebate and incentive programs; and the advice and experience of local experts and energy champions. A recognition program will also highlight the buildings that reduce the most energy and emissions.

Benchmarking often reveals how small changes can reap big savings. Building owners and managers are often pleasantly surprised that low-cost, operational improvements can yield energy savings of five to fifteen percent. Learn more from Natural Resources Canada's Recommissioning Guide for Building Owners and Managers.

Edmonton selected ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark, report, and disclose energy data for the pilot. The free, web-based tool allows users to compare building energy consumption and energy performance metrics, including GHG emissions, for a single building or across an entire portfolio. Participating owners and managers will need to open a Portfolio Manager account, if they don’t have one already.

“Benchmarking is valuable because it’s the starting point for awareness of whole-building energy use and how that energy relates to similar buildings,” said Lisa Dockman, the City’s Energy Transition Project Manager. “It shows you where you stand now, who you compare to, and what you can anticipate.”

The results of other similar programs show an average two percent energy reduction across all buildings. “That may not sound like a lot,” said Dockman, “but if that continues for five years, you’ll have a 10 percent energy reduction.” The City will lead by example, registering 20 of its owned or operated buildings in the first year, and eventually registering 120 of its buildings.

While buildings collectively represent a significant proportion of municipal GHG emissions, they typically emit modest GHG emissions on an individual basis. The key to unlocking the potential across an entire building stock is therefore dependent on scaling GHG mitigation measures across almost all buildings to achieve Edmonton’s climate goals. The challenge is to engage the whole market in energy efficiency.

Edmonton's Community Energy Transition Strategy

LBERD is the first municipally-led benchmarking program of its kind in Canada, and was devised to be the first step in transforming the building energy efficiency market from the bottom up. The City wants to use the data to steer future energy improvements, and ultimately, make all buildings more efficient.

“The Government of Canada’s Pan Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change also indicates that labelling of building energy use will be regulated nationwide as early as 2019,” said Dockman. “LBERD will help Edmonton’s building owners prepare for future regulation and take advantage of existing government incentives.”

Whether you own, manage or hold properties for investment, Portfolio Manager can help you set investment priorities, identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, facilitate accreditation in Canadian green building programs, and more. Portfolio Manager is a free, easy-to-use, nationally standardized system, backed by the Government of Canada and widely adopted by industry stakeholders. To learn more about Portfolio Manager and how it can benefit your organization, visit Natural Resources Canada at:, or contact for more information.

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.

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