Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency Newsletter - March 2014

Building Energy Efficiency Newsletter

March 2014

Coming to Canada – ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager scoring model for hospitals

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager logo

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager energy performance scores will be available to all Canadian hospitals in May 2014. Portfolio Manager, the only standard national platform for energy benchmarking in Canada, is already being used for thousands of buildings across the country.

Why benchmark? Because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Energy benchmarking is a key step in reducing a very controllable cost – energy. With steep funding cuts and rising energy costs, hospitals across the country are looking for savings. These organizations can make additional resources available for essential health services through energy savings, while at the same time becoming more environmentally sustainable.

Through increased energy efficiency, there is an opportunity to have an impact on Canadian industry’s bottom line and improve Canada’s overall competitiveness and productivity. Energy benchmarking is key to establishing baselines and setting energy goals, and contributes to the development of a sound energy management plan that includes the allocation of staff and resources to energy management and continuous improvement.

Hospitals are among the most energy-intensive buildings in Canadian communities and have energy requirements unlike any other commercial or institutional facility due to indoor air quality demands and expanding equipment needs. Significant savings can be made by focusing on improving the energy efficiency of the buildings. These savings can be achieved through relatively simple measures including recommissioning, behavioural changes and lighting retrofits.

Over 70 Canadian hospitals are already benchmarking their energy consumption. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager will facilitate the process for other hospitals who want to join the growing ranks of energy leaders. The tool can be used to help organizations set and check performance goals, calculate hypothetical energy costs, identify energy performance issues, invest strategically in future energy projects and set thresholds for new buildings  In short, it is a tool that can help organizations plot the path to continuous improvement. What’s more, Portfolio Manager can complement other energy and/or environmental management programs you may already have in place.

Portfolio Manager provides you with a snapshot of how your building is performing and gives you an ENERGY STAR energy performance score between 1 and 100. Using Portfolio Manager, hospitals in your portfolio can be compared against one another or against similar facilities across the country. To receive an ENERGY STAR score, all Portfolio Manager users have to do is enter one year’s worth of energy data and some key operational characteristics, such as surface area and the number of operational beds.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Access Page logo

Be a leader in energy efficiency and start using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager today. There are a few things you can do now to be ready for the launch of the energy performance scoring model for Canadian hospitals. Make sure your energy data is in order. You will need twelve consecutive months of data as well as other tombstone information about your facility.

Stay tuned to HUBEE for more information on the launch of the hospital model in Canada and upcoming hospital-specific training webinars. You can also visit our Energy benchmarking Web pages or e-mail info.services@nrcan.gc.ca. HELP (Health Care Energy Leadership) – a joint initiative of My Sustainable Canada and the Coalition for Green Health Care, supported by Natural Resources Canada, also offers information and resources for hospitals.

CAN-QUEST training coming soon

CAN-QUEST, the Canadian adaptation of the popular building energy simulation software from the United States, was released in November 2013. Since that time it has been gaining momentum with over 400 downloads across Canada. The increasing popularity of CAN-QUEST (NECB 2011, beta version) highlights the positive influence that the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2011 (NECB) is having on the building sector in Canada.

CAN-QUEST builds upon eQUEST 3.62x and has a number of new features, including complete Canadian weather data, support for metric and imperial units, and English- and French-language interfaces. The software can be used to demonstrate performance path compliance with either the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2011 or its predecessor, the Model National Energy Code for Buildings 1997. CAN-QUEST is a modeling tool that also supports the requirements of ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems standard.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has developed two CAN-QUEST training packages for provincial and territorial code jurisdictions, which are designed to serve as the basis of courses for building-energy modellers and compliance officers. Discussions are already underway with various jurisdictions that have expressed an interest in establishing CAN-QUEST training sessions in 2014. In addition, a pilot course on CAN-QUEST is already underway at Humber College in Toronto.

Further information about CAN-QUEST and the NECB 2011 is available through NRCan’s Energy Code Web pages, by e-mailing info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca or calling 1-877-360-5500 (toll-free) or 613-992-3245 (National Capital Region).

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager: FAQs

question mark

Since going live in the summer of 2013, we have seen a strong uptake of Portfolio Manager in Canada. We are providing you with a couple of FAQs that may help to address issues you may have experienced. For answers to any other questions you may have, e-mail info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca. You might see your question featured in a future issue of the newsletter.

The questions featured below are taken from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Buildings FAQ page:

Q. How do I create a spreadsheet upload template?

A. The spreadsheet template for adding new properties to your account is located in the Add Properties box on the Upload and/or Update Multiple Properties page . You need only click the Add Properties Template link to open the file.  If you add more properties later, please always open a new copy to ensure that you are using the most current version of the template.

For all other spreadsheet upload types, please follow these instructions to create templates:

  1. In the Edit and Manage Information box, click on the blue Create an Upload Template button.  This will guide you to the Create a Custom Upload Template page.  
  2. Select which type of upload you would like to create.
  3. Choose the properties to include.
  4. Provide any requested "Detailed Information" (depending on the type of upload, this step will appear after you choose properties).
  5. Finally, click on Create & Download Template. Please note that you may need to disable your pop-up blocker.

Again, given that periodic updates to the template files may result in old versions becoming incompatible, please always fill in and import your spreadsheet file as soon as possible.

Q. Do you have any troubleshooting tips for Upload Spreadsheets?

A. Please always read all instructions and upload tips on the spreadsheet template itself.

Top Five Recommendations for Upload Spreadsheets:

  1. Use most current version of Upload Spreadsheet.
    • From time to time, we make adjustments to the templates themselves based on customer feedback or for technical enhancements. Sometimes these changes are subtle, and you may not be able to notice them easily. Therefore, you cannot always rely on a saved copy that you fill in each time.
    • Best practice: please always generate a NEW copy, filling it in and uploading it as soon as possible.
  2. Size of upload.
    • Maximum file size is 2 MB; however, this would be a very, very large spreadsheet.
    • Best practice: do not be afraid to generate several templates and break up bulk information into more manageable chunks. Additionally, if you are new to the spreadsheet upload feature on Portfolio Manager or are not very comfortable with Excel, we recommend limiting the number of entries (e.g., a few dozen or even a couple hundred rather than several thousand at once).
  3. Copy/paste functionality is tricky in Excel and is the culprit behind most spreadsheet upload problems.
    • Copying/pasting to create new rows: copied rows may be partial (missing hidden columns) or incorrect (header row or “last billed”). Please specify the number of bills you will be entering when you first generate the spreadsheet.
    • Copying/pasting directly from PDF Utility Bills: Adobe sometimes includes hidden “formatting” in the text that causes issues.
    • Best practice: whenever possible, avoid copying and pasting.  When asked, choose the specific number of entries that you need to include when you first generate the template.  If you must copy and paste something, try to only “paste values”.
  4. Uploads are not a recommended substitute for Web services.
    • We do not recommend using Upload Spreadsheets to update massive amounts of client data; if you do this, we may have a very difficult time assisting with troubleshooting effectively.
    • EPA offers a suite of RESTful web services that allow you to exchange data with Portfolio Manager. This allows for automated data exchange between you and your clients.
    • Best practice: if you would like to use the powerful performance metrics generated by the Portfolio Manager system within a third party application, we encourage you to utilize Web services.
  5. Customer support.
    • If you need more help than is provided in the "Failed" status error message, customer support is available to assist you. However, please be aware that this must be done manually and may take longer than a typical support ticket response. There is no automated process for troubleshooting.
    • Best practice: please be sure to attach a copy of the Upload Spreadsheet file to your message. Click the "Ask a Question" link at the top of this page to submit your request.
    • Best practice: we are trying to hone our error messages; if you see an error message after a failed upload that you believe is not helpful, please let us know exactly what it said.

Q. Can I enter energy bills that are not monthly? Can I enter one energy bill for the entire year?

A. Yes and yes. When possible, you should enter the start and end dates that are on your bill. You can enter any time frame, it doesn’t have to be monthly. It could be quarterly, bi-annually, or even just a single annual entry, as long as you cover 12 full months.

However, if you have monthly measurements, we recommend this level for two key reasons:

  • Weather-normalized metrics need monthly data. If you don’t have monthly data, they will be “N/A.”
  • If you are entering annual data (which is a good option if you only have estimated energy), your metrics for period ending dates that do not coincide with this year will not be as accurate. In this case, Portfolio Manager will prorate the usage evenly among the 12 months. For example, say your total kWh for 2012 was 5000 due to a very cold winter, and your total kWh for 2013 was 4000. If you are looking at the metrics for the year ending June 2013 (July 2012 – June 2013), they will be slightly inflated because the second half of 2012 is still carrying the increase from the higher 2012 winter bills, even though that winter isn’t in the year you are looking at.

You can also enter estimated data – just remember to check the “estimated” box along with your entry.

Q. What is the Data Quality Checker?

  • The Data Quality Checker runs a screen of basic data checks on your properties to help you identify possible data entry errors and to see whether your building differs from typical operational patterns.
  • It is accessible from the Summary tab for each property. Currently, you can only run this report on individual properties.
Data Quality Checker screen capture

Calendar of events and other important dates

The following list highlights key events:

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 12 000 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 focusses on energy efficiency in industrial facilities, Heads Up CIPEC.

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