Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency – Volume 1, Issue 5 (August)

Volume 1, Issue 5

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager in Canada: A year in review

Energy Star Portfolio Manager

This month marks one year since the launch of the Canadian adaptation of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is pleased to report that since that time, Canadian businesses and institutions have embraced the benchmarking tool, and we are seeing the results of those efforts.


Buildings across Canada, from Victoria to Charlottetown to the northern territories, are represented in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Currently, more than 7400 buildings covering 115 million m2 of floor space are registered in the tool.

Since the launch last August, NRCan has released three ENERGY STAR scores, including ones for commercial offices, K-12 schools and hospitals. Organizations from all sectors are using the tool, including warehouses, hotels/motels, retail and food services, and multi-unit residential. These organizations are benefitting from other performance indicators as well, including energy use intensity ratings.

Another significant result is that uptake of the tool is not only at the organizational level. Corporate challenges and environmental programs like Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance’s Race to Reduce, and the Canada Green Building Council, endorsements by the Lower Mainland Local Government Associations of British Columbia and the Vancouver City Council’s Energy Retrofit Strategy, all rely on ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

What’s next?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager’s second year in Canada promises to be a busy one. Watch for the following updates and improvements:

  • New feature: Share forward
    One of the most frequently requested features in Portfolio Manager is the ability to share forward. With the release of this feature, users can now share buildings that have been shared with them with other users. The share forward function has been carefully designed to offer the greatest possible flexibility while still allowing the main property data administrator to maintain full control of a shared property. Other planned features include additional enhancements to the sharing and property transfer features, and a “test” label for test or demo buildings.
  • New ENERGY STAR scores for Canada
    NRCan is working diligently on the development and release of additional ENERGY STAR scores for Canadian buildings. Warehouses and food-based retail are the next building types expected to have scores available. Stay tuned for updates on the development and expected release dates of these scores.
  • Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use 2014
    To ensure nationally representative, statistically robust data as a basis for our benchmarking tool, NRCan will be working with Statistics Canada to collect new data starting in January 2015 for an updated Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use.
  • Data trends and snapshots
    NRCan is working to produce a number of reports that will provide in-depth analyses of Portfolio Manager results to date, and anticipates their release later this year.

In addition, NRCan will continue to work with stakeholders across the country to promote the responsible use of energy with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and to provide you with information, publications, updates and training webinars. Feel free to e-mail us for more information or with any comments, concerns or ideas.

How clean is your data? Making the most of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

One year has passed since NRCan launched the Canadian adaptation of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Now is the time to make sure your building data is accurate and up to date.

You’ve probably heard the well-known catchphrase “garbage in, garbage out.” Good data will help you plan for the best possible payback and will provide you with the most accurate representation of your building’s energy performance. If you make the most of what ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager has to offer, your ENERGY STAR score will let you compare your building’s energy performance to other, similar buildings in Canada, and your energy use intensity rating will help you understand where you can make improvements. The rating can give you the evidence you need to justify investing in energy retrofits.

So what is clean data anyway?

Put simply, clean data is current, complete and accurate data. NRCan is calling on all Portfolio Manager users to check that their building data is correct and that all data fields are accurately filled.

Help us improve and maintain the quality of our data so we can all benefit! Here’s what to look for:


Check your postal code.

Portfolio Manager generates ENERGY STAR scores based on weather stations associated with postal codes. Also, use correct city and province names.

Let us know when you’re playing in Portfolio Manager.

You can do this by correctly labelling buildings that are entered just for testing or practice. Use the words “test,” “sample” or “demo” in the building name (e.g. NRCan test bldg #1). Labelled incorrectly, this data can skew our analyses.

Use facility and owner names that are known in the industry.

Be consistent with names. If there’s no building name, use the street address or tenant name.

A few more data-entry tips:

  • Check your work for spelling and typos.
  • Use Portfolio Manager’s data quality checker. This tool can help check your data for errors or anomalies.
  • Report floor space accurately and use either the ft2 or m2 fields correctly and consistently.
  • Make sure you are using the correct units when entering your energy data.
  • Check your data several times a year. Update any inaccuracies as you notice them.
  • Verify and correct suspicious numbers. Estimate missing data and exclude suspicious, incorrect, or incomplete records from analysis until the correct data is available.
  • Avoid using abbreviations for the facility owner and property name.
  • Do not share your password. Share data through the tool’s sharing feature.
  • Do not enter data for residential buildings.
  • Remove data for inactive buildings.
  • If you want to be anonymous, use an alias such as “Joe Doe” (not “askasdfhasdl”).

Contact us by e-mail, phone 1-877-360-5500 (toll-free), or visit our Energy benchmarking pages.

New User’s Guide to the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings

Image of the User’s Guide to the National Energy Code of Canada for Building

Launched in late June, this first edition of the User's Guide is designed to complement the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) 2011.

This guide describes the various compliance approaches and presents examples of trade-off path calculations. It is an essential tool for code users and an ideal training tool for educators and trainers.

Of particular interest to designers are the checklists at the end of each part to help them verify that provisions in the NECB have been considered in their design. Used along with the NECB 2011, the User’s Guide facilitates code usage by providing explanatory material and suggested approaches to design or compliance questions. As the NECB offers a number of compliance path options, including trade-off paths, code users will find this guide provides clarity by describing the various compliance approaches and including detailed examples of trade-off path calculations.


Code users familiar with the useful explanatory material contained in the appendices of the former Model National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 1997 will note that much of this material has been updated in the new User's Guide and augmented with additional examples and information, such as examples of calculations of thermal properties of building assemblies.

The User’s Guide is available for purchase from the National Research Council Canada’s Virtual Store in softcover, on line or PDF formats.

Calling all schools: Improve your energy grade with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

School districts in Canada stand to save millions in energy costs – money that could be reinvested in school programs. And the good news is that ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager can help make it happen. With the free, online energy management tool facility managers can benchmark energy and water consumption across an entire portfolio of buildings.

Benchmarking can help school districts determine the impact of energy-saving projects and budget future energy costs accordingly. Once 12 consecutive months of energy data have been collected, benchmarking is quick and easy. It requires only a few minutes a month and provides many valuable results. NRCan offers a variety of tools and resources to help get you started. Visit our Energy benchmarking for K-12 schools page and our Building energy benchmarking resources page for more information.


ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager earns top marks for schools in the United States

School districts have been using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager in the United States for many years. The following are a few examples of what can be achieved with the benchmarking tool:

Contrary to what skeptics think, reducing energy consumption does not compromise student education. “We don’t teach in the dark”, says Eric Hamilton, director of buildings and grounds with the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools in Buffalo, Minnesota. “We just have a dark room when we leave.” The school district has avoided about US$13 million in energy costs over the last 10 years since it started working with ENERGY STAR. Another U.S. school district in North Carolina, which consists of 32 facilities, avoided US$8.1 million in energy costs over the past eight years, while the St. Tammany Parish Public School District in Louisiana avoided more than US$11 million in energy costs between 2005 and 2012.

The New York City Department of Education is also doing its part in a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions having dropped its total energy use by 10 percent between 2008 and 2017 simply by training custodians and building managers to track energy use, adjust heating systems, and modify lighting and HVAC schedules.

However, energy consumption reduction goes well beyond the low-hanging fruit and can include energy management systems or load shedding, equipment retrofits and control upgrades. Energy information gained through benchmarking can help justify investment in new, high efficiency equipment. Of course, energy conservation also requires ongoing communication to remind people about energy saving measures so that everyone can do their part.

To read the full article, visit: www.facilitiesnet.com/energyefficiency/article/How-The-New-York-City-Department-Of-Education-Uses-Portfolio-Manager--13464.

For further information on how schools in the U.S. use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, read the articles below:

Energy Star: Powerfully Smart
Part 1: Energy Star Portfolio Manager Helps K-12 Facility Managers Avoid Millions in Energy Costs
Part 2: Portfolio Manager Helps Schools Set Baseline for Energy, Water Use
Part 3: Energy Efficiency in K-12 Buildings Doesn't Require Full Time Employee
Part 4: Communicating Early Success With Energy Star Can Help Get Energy Efficiency Efforts Off Ground in K-12 Buildings.

Calendar of events and other important dates

The following list highlights key events:

If you are interested in having a customized Dollars to $ense workshop, please note that it will take eight to ten weeks from planning to delivery.

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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