Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency – Volume 2, Issue 10 (October)


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Volume 2, Issue 10

Moving forward with energy benchmarking policies in Canada

The importance of energy benchmarking and the development of policies that promote this energy-saving strategy was a key topic at the 2015 Canada Green Building Council’s Building Lasting Change conference held in June in Vancouver.

“Participants in voluntary benchmarking measures typically tend to be the best managed buildings and have the highest building performance,” says Nat Gosman.

Nat Gosman, Director of Energy Efficiency policy for the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines and a speaker at the conference, noted that energy benchmarking provides building owners and managers with a foundation of energy literacy and an understanding of the effectiveness of their conservation measures and retrofits. He also stated that benchmarking provides data for governments to develop new energy management policies and programs.

Gosman was one of three speakers at a panel discussion on The Drive Toward a National Energy Benchmarking Strategy in Canada, along with Ross MacWhinney, policy advisor for New York City’s sustainability department, and David Ramslie of the Integral Group.

The panel discussion focussed on current policy drivers and potential policy changes as new tools to encourage energy benchmarking. Such policies can not only further efficiency improvements of existing building stock, but also nurture the growing interest and support for energy benchmarking policies in Canada.

“Participants in voluntary benchmarking measures typically tend to be the best managed buildings and have the highest building performance,” said Gosman. “And regulation will increase participation significantly.” Panel speakers agreed that phasing in energy benchmarking will be important to help poor building performers without resources to get on board.

In Europe and the U.S., where some jurisdictions have already implemented energy benchmarking policies, real market transparency, through public data reporting, translates into higher valuations and lower vacancy rates.

Ramslie highlighted Energy Star Portfolio Manager as the pre-eminent tool for energy data collection and analysis. He also discussed the importance of public disclosure of data and data verification. MacWhinney added that in Europe and the U.S., where some jurisdictions have already implemented energy benchmarking policies, real market transparency, through public data reporting, translates into higher valuations and lower vacancy rates.

Canada is catching up. For example, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto are consulting on a potential mandatory energy reporting and benchmarking requirement for large commercial and multi-unit residential buildings. Ramslie noted that such reporting would be phased in and would call for owners to submit annual reports on energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Nat Gosman said that B.C. is moving forward with potential options for energy benchmarking under the Climate Leadership Plan. The province is also developing a model benchmarking policy framework that will soon be put forward to decision makers in jurisdictions across B.C.

For information and further resources on energy benchmarking, visit NRCan’s Why benchmark performance and the benefits of benchmarking.

For the full articles on the conference, and the Toronto, Ontario and B.C. perspectives on energy benchmarking, visit:

Energy Reporting and Benchmarking - Toronto and Ontario, for more information about energy benchmarking in Toronto and Ontario.

Energy benchmarking in Canada, to find out what B.C. is doing in energy benchmarking.

Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care wins the 2015 ENERGY STAR Advocate of the Year award

Energy Star

The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care was this year’s recipient of the ENERGY STAR Advocate of the Year award for its efforts in facilitating the adoption of ENERGY STAR products within Canada’s health services sector.

The Coalition has been working to green Canadian health care for the past 15 years at the national, provincial and local levels. The organization’s mission is to promote the wise use of energy resources and to increase energy conservation awareness. ENERGY STAR has been integral to realizing this mission and to helping health care facilities reduce operating costs.

The HealthCare Energy Leaders Ontario (HELO) initiative, launched in 2014 by the Coalition, has been promoting energy conservation in Ontario health care facilities through a variety of approaches. The HELO team has, for instance, helped facility managers better understand ENERGY STAR options that would reduce their electricity consumption and environmental footprint.

HELO experts have conducted walk-through audits and delivered opportunity assessment reports that outline the benefits of installing ENERGY STAR equipment. With the help of HELO, organizations have learned how to secure incentives from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and natural gas providers.

Completed energy conservation projects in Ontario’s health care facilities have already saved 1.1 megawatts (MW) of electricity demand and 4.6 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy. If fully implemented, projects currently in the design and construction stages would save the Ontario health care sector $15M annually in utility costs. Many of these savings are the result of ENERGY STAR product installations.

“Energy management is just one of many priorities we have adopted in our work as a national voice and catalyst for environmental change within the sector, and we are proud to say that our efforts have helped the ENERGY STAR brand become far more prevalent in health care across Canada,” said Linda Varangu, Coalition executive director.

Health care facility managers can gain a better understanding of how ENERGY STAR products and energy benchmarking can help them achieve their energy saving goals by visiting Why benchmark performance.

Additional benchmarking information can be found on NRCan’s pages on Energy benchmarking for medical offices and Energy benchmarking for hospitals.

For the full articles on the 2015 ENERGY STAR Advocate of the Year award, please refer to the following sources:
Health care org is 2015 ENERGY STAR Advocate  
Winners’ profiles—2015
HELP (Health Care Energy Leadership).

BOMA BEST® gets a makeover

The Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada has unveiled a new look for its BOMA BEST® building environmental certification program, the largest of its kind in Canada. The questionnaire and certification requirements have not changed, but instead of levels 1 to 4, buildings will now be recognized as certified, bronze, silver, gold or platinum. This change was designed based on user feedback to make the system more intuitive, so that stakeholders can instantly see and recognize a building’s certification level.


The BOMA BEST® program focuses on six key areas of environmental performance and management in existing buildings:

  1. Energy performance and management
  2. Water performance and management
  3. Waste reduction and site enhancement
  4. Emissions and effluents management
  5. Indoor environment improvement
  6. Environmental management systems

For more information about BOMA BEST® and its new look, visit www.bomabest.org.

Energy efficiency buy-in on the rise with building owners and managers


The evidence is in: simple measures such as installing or retrofitting with energy efficient equipment can have significantly positive effects on the bottom line for building owners and managers. It is no surprise then that building owners and managers are increasingly buying into a variety of energy efficiency measures.

To confirm this trend, a recent analysis by Deloitte shows that the majority of building owners and managers understand that electricity consumption is directly related to competitiveness; many also count energy reduction measures as part of their cost-cutting strategies. Moreover, 57 percent of companies surveyed have instituted formal energy consumption reduction goals.

Ninety-three percent indicated that they spent close to 20 percent of their total capital budgets on energy management. More than half of the study’s participants noted that their energy management efforts were successful.  Moreover, businesses are aiming to reduce electricity consumption by 25 percent and are also increasing the time to achieve goals from 4.2 to 4.5 years.

Companies have also become more sophisticated about monitoring, with 28 percent indicating that high-quality data and data management exist across the company. A similar percentage indicated the use of advanced analytical tools, although many still use spreadsheets. Interestingly, the study also found that more than 55 percent of businesses generate some of their energy needs on-site, with technology, media and telecommunications companies (67 percent) and health care organizations (65 percent) leading the way in energy self-reliance.

While on-site energy generation requires significant planning and investment, the installation of energy efficient equipment, such as ENERGY STAR products, is much easier and can provide a relatively quick payback.

ENERGY STAR is the symbol that makes building retrofits easy by identifying products that operate at premium levels of energy efficiency — up to 50 percent more than older, less efficient equipment. In Canada, ENERGY STAR is more than a symbol for energy efficiency; it is an industry/government partnership, administered by NRCan, that enrols participants, promotes the ENERGY STAR symbol and monitors its use.

ENERGY STAR products are available in a range of categories, including commercial and industrial equipment, as well as HVAC and lighting systems. By participating in ENERGY STAR in Canada, building owners and managers can stay current on the latest equipment as they undertake ongoing retrofits.

NRCan provides important considerations and tips for retrofitting buildings on our Retrofitting of Commercial Buildings page.

Financing comprehensive building energy management and retrofitting can be tricky. Building owners and managers can finance improvements internally or implement an energy services contract with a third party. Each approach has advantages and drawbacks, and must be carefully evaluated for the greatest long-term benefits.

For more information on the Deloitte analysis, please visit Property Owners Increasingly Embracing Energy Efficiency Technologies.

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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