Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency – Volume 2, Issue 2


Volume 2, Issue 2

Get your data ready for Statistics Canada’s energy use survey

As mentioned in our previous issue, a new energy use survey is coming your way. The Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use (SCIEU) aims to produce statistical estimates of energy use and establish baseline energy consumption figures. The SCIEU combines the goals of two previous energy-use surveys: the Commercial and Institutional Consumption of Energy Survey and the Commercial and Institutional Building Energy Use Survey.

As with past surveys, the results can be used by utilities and different levels of government to develop programs and policies designed to improve the energy efficiency of commercial and institutional buildings in Canada. The results will also provide current energy use data to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to help update the ENERGY STAR performance scores for offices, K-12 schools and hospitals, and to develop new scores for building types that do not yet have them.

Additionally, the SCIEU results will provide current data for similar buildings to industry associations, building managers and business owners, enabling them to compare energy consumption patterns. Moreover, both energy specialists and consumers will be able to learn more about the consumption patterns of certain buildings.

The current SCIEU was launched in the second week of February 2015 by Statistics Canada and will gather data for the 2014 calendar year. The survey is mandatory, and Statistics Canada is asking for full cooperation from organizations. The more complete the responses to survey questions, the better the data and the more reliable the results will be. High-quality data, in turn, will allow NRCan to feed valuable information into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

If you receive a survey package, please review it carefully so that you can respond as fully as possible to all questions. For more information, please visit nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/buildings/energy-benchmarking/update/getready/19454.

New Green Button download helps users get even more out of their Portfolio Manager data

One of the new enhancements introduced into ENERGYSTAR Portfolio Manager by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on February 10, 2015, is the Green Button download feature.  This feature is available in the tool for all users.

Green Button is an industry-led effort that began in January 2012 aiming to give customers access to data in a format that they could use to make improvements in their benchmarking efforts and save money. While the Green Button standard is ultimately intended to facilitate automatic data transfer from one system to another via “Connect My Data” (similar in concept to Portfolio Manager’s web services), at this time, Portfolio Manager is only offering the download option.

 The Green Button download feature enables Portfolio Manager users to download their electric meter data in one of two formats. The Green Button Extensible Markup Language (XML) download produces a data file that can then be uploaded to another website, such as to a participating energy service company, ensuring a seamless transfer of useful information. Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) is a format designed for human readers, so that users can analyze their own data.

Green Button upload and Connect My Data services are not currently offered through Portfolio Manager; however, the EPA is closely monitoring the development of Green Button certification to ensure error-free uploading and integration of data when these features are introduced later. Once introduced by the EPA, these features will be available to all Portfolio Manager users.

Will Green Button Connect My Data services eventually replace Portfolio Manager’s web services?

No.These are two similar but distinct services. Both Green Button’s Connect My Data and Portfolio Manager web services exchange data electronically. However, it is important to note that Green Button is focused on the energy data for an individual meter, while Portfolio Manager takes the whole building into account, offering a broader array of benchmarking services and information, including operational and performance data such as the ENERGY STAR score and greenhouse gas emissions. The data service offered by Green Button is just one element that enhances, but does not replace, the framework for tracking operational details and exchanging performance metrics offered by Portfolio Manager and its web services.

A full list of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager enhancements for 2015 can be found on the Portfolio Manager web page.

Energy benchmarking makes difference at Nova Scotia’s Capital Health Authority

Nova Scotia’s largest provider of health services, Capital District Health Authority (Capital Health), provides medical services to the residents of Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), as well as specialist services to Atlantic Canada. Since 2012, Capital Health has incorporated energy efficiency into its operations through a partnership with Nova Scotia’s Department of Health & Wellness and Efficiency Nova Scotia (ENS). The partnership’s goal was to build the internal structures to investigate, evaluate and implement energy savings projects. The partnership is the first initiative of its kind in the province and has served as a model for other health authorities in Nova Scotia.

In 2013, as part of this initiative, Capital Health started benchmarking its energy consumption using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. This tool is the only free, online national energy benchmarking tool in Canada that provides metrics based on statistically valid data.. Portfolio Manager helps facility managers and operators identify poorly performing buildings to strategically invest in energy efficient upgrades and improvements.

There are a few factors that led Capital Health to use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. In the past, most of its hospital sites did not have adequate tools to accurately track energy use at the building level. An energy management information system with sub meters measuring electricity, water, and steam consumption for each of the seven buildings on the Nova Scotia Hospital (NSH) campus was installed in the 2011–2012 fiscal year, with some assistance from Efficiency Nova Scotia. A metering project implemented at the Nova Scotia Hospital campus enabled Capital Health to calculate energy intensity numbers for each building. Portfolio Manager was the next logical step to further this initiative and monitor and track energy data at all 26 of its buildings – representing about 375 000 m2 of building space.

According to David Bligh, ENS on-site energy manager (OEM) at Capital Health, “There has been a big push at Capital Health and through the Department of Health & Wellness to get a handle on utility costs.” He added that “benchmarking is a natural extension of that desire.”

“The tools available in Portfolio Manager have been very easy to use, especially the reporting function,” said Bligh when discussing the start-up process. “Creating profiles was very quick and easy, all that was needed was an estimate of gross floor area, knowledge of the type of hospital and what sort of activities take place, and the age of the building,” he elaborated.

“We know that we have some buildings that perform very well and some that don’t; and there have been a few surprises when we compare results. It’s only been a few months since we’ve had a full 12 months of data for each meter at each site, but we can certainly see how it will inform us in the future,” stated Bligh.

Today, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is an integral part of how the bills are paid every day. And, as a result, that data will be available for years to come as a resource to planners and anyone else interested in reducing utility costs. Capital Health is currently engaged in a strategic energy management planning exercise to help inform the priorities of the incoming provincial health authority. In addition, they are continuing to improve building and plant systems to deliver the same services at a reduced cost. Portfolio Manager benchmarks have recently helped in the selection of a building for a project focused on reducing the energy used by HVAC circulation pumps, and Capital Health intends to continue using the PM tools to identify and verify energy projects.

For more information on Capital Health’s environmental programs, visit www.cdha.nshealth.ca/about-us/environmental-program.

To learn more about how your hospital can benefit from energy benchmarking, visit NRCan’s Energy benchmarking for hospitals page.

Volunteers sought for the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC)

The search for candidates to serve on the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) is on. The CCBFC oversees nine standing committees that work on the Canadian building, fire, plumbing and energy codes that form the basis of provincial and territorial regulations.

The National Research Council, which houses the Commission, is looking for volunteers to represent all regions of Canada and all sectors of the construction industry that use national and provincial codes. Candidates should also have a broad knowledge of policy and code-related matters.

CCBFC members are selected for their expertise and experience with the codes but not as representatives of special interest groups. The Commission tries to balance representation from industry and regulatory and general interest sectors by geographic region.

Incoming commission members will be appointed for a five-year term beginning September 1, 2015 for the next code development cycle. The workload is estimated at about five to ten days a year, and while there is no remuneration, travel and accommodation costs for meetings are reimbursed.

Interested parties should send an expression of interest to the Secretary of the CCBFC using the online form by March 26, 2015: www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/solutions/advisory/codes_centre/volunteer.html. Candidates should also e-mail a 120-word summary of their relevant experience and their résumé to codes.ccbfc.nomination@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.

Toronto's Heritage Reframed project acknowledged at Holcim Foundation Awards

The Holcim Awards is an international competition, based in Switzerland,  designed to recognize and reward projects, irrespective of scale or geographical region, that display innovation in sustainable construction. A Toronto project has won a North-American Acknowledgement prize at the 2014 Holcim Awards. It is one of 13 winning projects that will share more than US$300,000 in prize money.  The project, Heritage Reframed, is the renovation and extension of existing elements, including a culturally significant nineteenth-century structure that will ultimately provide a new home for the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto.

The international competition, which recognizes innovative projects and future-oriented concepts, has two categories – the Holcim Awards and the Next Generation. It is a two-stage global competition with an initial regional phase in five world regions. The 15 winning projects (gold, silver and bronze) from this phase are automatically qualified for the Global Holcim Awards held the following year.  A total of US$2 million in prize money is awarded in each three-year cycle.

The competition was part of an energy efficiency campaign that included raising employee awareness. According to David Taggart, Manager of Facility Assets, City of Burlington, “We began developing a culture of conservation that continues to grow progressively throughout the organization.”

The competition seeks projects that demonstrate an ability to stretch conventional notions about sustainable buildings and balance environmental, social and economic performance, while exemplifying architectural excellence and a high degree of transferability.

For photos and the full article, please see www.holcimfoundation.org/Awards/regional-holcim-awards-2014-north-america/winners.

Get your buildings fibre-connected

With increasing pressure to manage costs, risks and energy consumption, building owners and managers are exploring a number of innovations, including smart building technologies. They are on the right path according to Ted Maulucci, CIO of Canada-based Tridel Group, who says that “no one should build another dumb building.”

Smart buildings – those that are fibre-connected – offer multiple, long-term benefits that are just beginning to be understood. One of the biggest benefits is lower construction costs: when a fibre-connected building is constructed, multiple systems can run on the same infrastructure, which can substantially lower costs.

Other important benefits include improved energy efficiency, increased security of integrated monitoring capabilities, and the use of data analytics from the integrated network infrastructure. Moreover, fibre-connected buildings provide the proper infrastructure for Internet delivery.

Maulucci also believes that smart buildings can spur innovation through increased communication capacity. He adds that municipalities could attract more businesses and new construction if they installed the infrastructure for high-speed communications before they were needed.

Like Maulucci, many others believe that the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to dramatically improve performance, reduce costs, drive innovation and create new revenue streams in many sectors. Although the IoT is becoming mainstream, it is still a concept that is hard to visualize. Yet, monetary benefits are already being associated with IoT.

For example, it has been estimated that US$100 billion could be saved using the IoT to reduce energy consumption in public buildings. These savings could be achieved through the use of sensors for automated lighting, water and gas use associated with the location and level of occupancy as well as the weather conditions.

The key to making money with the IoT is to use it to streamline services. Smarter and more efficient services save people time and money.

For the links to the full stories, please visit Tridel CIO: Smart Buildings Can Cut Costs and How The Internet of Things will change the world.

Calendar of events and other important dates

The following list highlights key events:

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager training opportunities with NRCan for the release of

  • the new ENERGY STAR score for supermarkets and food stores in Canada are scheduled to take place in March and April, 2015. Visit our training page for further details.
  • The Red River College in Winnipeg continues to offer a full range of courses for beginners and more experienced modellers for winter 2015. 
  • The Association québécoise pour la maîtrise de l'énergie (AQME) has scheduled a two-day training session in Montreal for March 17 and 18 (offered in French). 
  • The CÉGEP de Jonquière in Quebec will be offering a two-day training session on March 26 and 27 (offered in French). For more information please contact Nathalie Grenier.

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.