Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency – Volume 2, Issue 3 (March)


Volume 2, Issue 3

All New! ENERGY STAR Score for Supermarkets and Food Stores in Canada

In the U.S., over 2,300 supermarkets that have achieved a score of 75 or more using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager have earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) ENERGY STAR label. The U.S. EPA reports that stores that have met this goal consistently use 35 percent less energy compared to other buildings of the same size and function.

Although the ENERGY STAR label for buildings is not available in Canada, Canadian supermarkets and food stores can also achieve the same level of energy savings.

Image of a shopping cart

Supermarkets and grocery stores are always hungry for opportunities to remain competitive on the expense side of the ledger. Food stores are among the most energy-intensive commercial buildings. Keeping overhead costs down – including energy – is always a primary concern. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that $1 in energy savings is equivalent to $59 in increased sales. It is clear that managing energy wisely can provide food retailers with a real competitive advantage!Footnote 1

The good news is that Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has just made managing energy in the food retail sector that much easier, with an all-new 1-100 Canadian ENERGY STAR score for supermarkets and other food establishments that is now available.

With the addition of this 1-100 ENERGY STAR score, food retailers will be able to implement or enhance an energy benchmarking routine using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. Portfolio Manager is the only tool in Canada that provides a comparison metric based on statistically validated data. The score will apply to supermarkets, grocery and beverage stores, food sales, and convenience stores with or without gas stations.

What is Portfolio Manager?

Portfolio Manager is a free, interactive energy management tool that helps you track and assess energy and water consumption across your entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment.

Energy benchmarking is a key starting point that is often overlooked for effective energy management and decision-making. It is key to deciding what to do next because it helps to establish baselines and set goals. For instance, benchmarking against the industry can provide key insights into the competitive use of energy. The data that you will receive from using the tool will help you answer challenging questions such as:

In the summer of 2013, NRCan launched ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager in Canada. At the time of the launch, ENERGY STAR scores were available for K-12 schools and commercial offices. In May 2014, NRCan launched a new 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for hospitals, and will continue to add other building types over time. Buildings that are not eligible to receive a score can also benefit from energy use intensity calculations.

  • How does my store compare with the average?
  • How does my store compare with the “best in class”?
  • Can my store do better?
  • How is my store performing now compared to last year?
  • Does my store have potential problems with the heating, cooling, or hot water systems?
  • Which of my stores are the least/most efficient?
  • Have the energy efficiency retrofits that were implemented in my store(s) succeeded?

By implementing a proven energy management strategy that includes benchmarking with Portfolio Manager, you can quickly answer these questions and many more. You can incorporate Portfolio Manager as a tool to support your sustainability plans and use the results to build a solid business case that can positively impact your store’s profitability and public image.

Canadian energy managers and store owners in the food retail sector can now add their buildings to the thousands of other building types in Canada that are already being benchmarked with the tool and reap the rewards of responsible energy use.

For more information on NRCan’s energy benchmarking initiative, please visit our website or contact us at info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca.

NRCan Training Opportunities for the all-new ENERGY STAR Score for Supermarkets and Food Stores in Canada

NRCan will offer a series of webinars to support the launch of the new 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for supermarkets and food stores in Canada. The training will include information for those who are new to using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and/or benchmarking.

These webinars will teach participants how to use the tool’s basic functions, with a particular focus on energy benchmarking for supermarkets, convenience stores and other Canadian food retail establishments.

To learn more about the Canadian adaptation of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, please visit our web site. If you have any questions or difficulty registering, please contact us at info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

Hard-boiled facts about energy use in the Canadian retail food and beverage sector: You can’t manage what you don’t measure

Image of a basket with eggs and a piggy bank

It’s no secret that there is fierce competition in Canada’s food and beverage retail sector. Increasingly, energy efficiency is recognized as a solid approach to increase profits and improve a store’s bottom line. Supermarkets, grocery and other food retail stores that have an established energy management program are aligned to put their stores in a more price-competitive position. Being aware of your store’s energy consumption and managing it wisely enables you to concentrate on sales while doing something positive for the environment.

Let’s take a look at the typical energy use breakdown in a Canadian supermarket.

According to NRCan’s Canmet ENERGY division, supermarkets use more energy per unit area than most commercial buildings. A large supermarket will consume 5,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year, and there are over 5,000 such large supermarkets in Canada. Together, this represents electricity consumption of around 25 terawatt hours (TWh) per year, or the output of about three large power plants.Footnote 2

Refrigeration systems typically account for around 50 percent of a supermarket’s energy costs and lighting around 25 percent – in terms of energy consumed these figures would be slightly lower. This translates into $150,000 per year in energy costs for refrigeration in a large supermarket. To put this into context, energy costs are equivalent to roughly 1 percent of supermarket sales. This is very significant, considering that the average net profit margin for a supermarket is also approximately 1 percent. That means that, all other things being equal, a 10-percent reduction in energy costs increases profits by about 10 percent!Footnote 3

The graph below breaks down the energy use of a supermarket.Footnote 4

Image of Supermarket End-Use chart


Text Version

Supermarket end-use

Heating 39 percent; Cooling 1 percent; Interior lighting 12 percent; Exterior lighting 2 percent; Interior equipment 8 percent; Exterior equipment 0 percent; Fans 12 percent; Refrigeration 26 percent


What is the potential for savings in Canada?

Food and beverage stores can make a significant contribution towards the energy efficiency of the Canadian building sector. The 2009 Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use (PDF, 3,67 MB) provides insight into the size of this sector. The opportunity to showcase leadership in this sector is great. In Canada, food and beverage stores may be broken down as follows:

  • 40,403 buildings
  • 8.4 percent of the total buildings in Canada
  • 3.8 percent of commercial and institutional floor space (29.3 million m2)
  • 9.8 percent of commercial and institutional energy use (82.7 PJ)
  • 2.8 GJ/m2 total energy intensity

The graph below demonstrates that the food retail sector represents the fourth largestcategory of building types in CanadaFootnote 5.

Image of Buildings chart


Text Version


Office 17 percent; Medical office 2 percent; K-12 school 4 percent; Nursing/residential 1 percent; Warehouse 7 percent; Hotel/motel 2 percent; Hospital 0 percent; Food/beverage store 9 percent; Non-food retail 12 percent; Other 46 percent


In the U.S., over 2,300 supermarkets that have achieved a score of 75 or more using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager have earned the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR label. The U.S. EPA reports that stores that have met this goal consistently use 35 percent less energy compared to other buildings of the same size and function.

Although the ENERGY STAR label for buildings is not available in Canada, Canadian supermarkets and food stores can also achieve the same level of energy savings.


There is no doubt that grocers face many challenges: there are varying requirements to keep food items cool, frozen or heated. Customers want uniform levels of lighting and don't want to be uncomfortable in a store that is either too warm or too cold. Energy demands are intense, and the cost of providing this energy strongly influences a store’s profitability.

By investing in efficient energy use, you can reduce your operating costs, buffer your supermarket from future energy cost increases, lower your environmental impact, and increase your long-term profitability. Make energy efficiency part of your thinking. Consider improving the efficiency of your operations through energy benchmarking using NRCan’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager or improve the energy awareness of your staff through NRCan’s Dollars to $ense workshops.

Other grocers have done it, and you can too: Reap great savings from energy efficiency and benchmarking

The release of NRCan’s new 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for food and beverage stores will provide a powerful tool that Canadian food retailers can use to maximize the energy savings potential in their stores. There are many supermarkets and grocery stores that are already profiting from sound energy management and improving both their bottom line and corporate profile.

The distinction of most supermarkets is that they are large facilities, and utility costs represent a much bigger slice of the overhead in comparison to other retail ventures – this is particularly due to refrigeration. In an industry where profit margins are small, and the competition fierce, the U.S. EPA reports that even $1 in energy savings can translate into $59 in increased sales.Footnote 6 In addition to demonstrating sound fiscal responsibility and increasing the bottom line, these savings also attract the over 60 percent of consumers who have explicitly stated that they wish to make their purchases from companies that are environmentally responsibleFootnote 7. Here are some examples of food stores that are benefitting from a vision and commitment to sound energy management.

The U.S. EPA reports that even $1 in energy savings can translate into $59 in increased sales

Food Lion, an American supermarket chain has consistently delivered on its commitment to energy efficiency by receiving the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award for ten consecutive years. They have taken a proactive approach that focuses on both equipment upgrades and in-house education. This has resulted in over 85 percent of Food Lion’s stores receiving the ENERGY STAR label and a 30-percent increase in efficiency across the board since 2000.

Another American retailer, Lowes Foods, through retrofitting and benchmarking five of its stores, saved enough energy to power 444 homes for one year and cut carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 10,000 tonnes per year.

Canadian grocers are also realizing energy management successes. In Saint-Pascal de Kamouraska, the IGA supermarket (a subsidiary of Sobey’s Québec), became the first LEED-certified supermarket in Canada. The store consumes 43 percent less energy compared to Canadian standards for similar buildings, is self-sufficient for heating, and water consumption has been reduced by 47 percent.

In 2014, the family-run independent store Kudrinko’s in Westport, Ontario received the “Greatness in Green, Outstanding Independent Award” from Progressive Grocer for its environmental efforts. Kudrinko’s competed against entries throughout North America. In addition to monitoring and tracking its energy use and refrigerant losses, Kudrinko’s implemented many energy-saving measures such as replacing inefficient equipment, increasing building envelope insulation, installing energy efficient lighting and many other retrofits before receiving the award.

Combining sound energy management best practices with a reduction in their environmental impact is the strategy the food retail industry is adopting on both sides of the border. NRCan is dedicated to enabling Canadian grocery stores to use energy more responsibly through energy benchmarking with Portfolio Manager. For more information on how to get started visit our Energy Benchmarking Roadmap, or, better yet, register for one of the upcoming webinars on the new 1-100 ENERGY STAR scores for supermarkets and food stores by visiting our energy benchmarking training resources page.

New publications now available from Natural Resources Canada

Now available:

Image of the Energy Management Best Practices Guide for Commercial and Institutional Buildings

Energy Management Best Practices Guide: For Commercial and Institutional Buildings (PDF, 1,47 MB)

Energy management best practices provide a solid framework for any energy management strategy – a framework that not only includes traditional technology-based energy performance solutions but also incorporates organizational and behavioural aspects of energy use. This latest guide from NRCan focuses on how energy management best practices can improve your organization’s energy performance to produce a more sustainable building with an extended life cycle.

To Download a PDF version of the Guide, visit www.nrcan.gc.ca/files/oee/files/pdf/publications/commercial/best_practices_e.pdf (PDF, 1,47 MB).

Image of the Four Centres at Red Deer College Case Study

Case study: Four Centres at Red Deer College (PDF, 832 KB)

The Four Centres building added nearly 16,000 square metres of new and renovated space to the main campus of Red Deer College in 2009. Numerous energy-saving design elements have made the Four Centres about 61 per cent more efficient than the Model National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (1997).

To find out more, visit www.nrcan.gc.ca/files/oee/files/pdf/publications/commercial/Red_Deer_Case-Study_access_e.pdf (PDF, 832 KB).


Impressive results for New Brunswick’s Horizon Health Network with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

“ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager offers an excellent way to showcase energy improvements with its scores and visuals that speak volumes,” says Kate Butler, Energy Manager with Health Services at Service New Brunswick, the governmental corporation responsible for providing a standard, consistent level of service throughout the province, while generating real financial savings for the Government of New Brunswick. “The tool tells a story about energy performance and provides a case for energy efficiency improvements.”

At the beginning of June 2014, Service New Brunswick approached the Horizon Health Network proposing a facility-wide integration using NRCan’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. As New Brunswick’s largest health authority, Horizon operates 12 hospitals and more than 100 medical facilities, clinics and offices, and provides services ranging from acute care to community-based health services.

Butler, who has managed the integration of Portfolio Manager in New Brunswick’s health care facilities, has seen the impressive results of energy benchmarking in the New Brunswick buildings sector and the potential for the entire health sector as well.

Horizon approved the facility-wide integration, and data will be entered into the tool starting with the larger hospitals including the Saint John Regional Hospital, New Brunswick’s largest health care facility. As Butler explains, once the facilities are in Portfolio Manager, they can compare their performance with peer hospitals within New Brunswick and across Canada. “Everyone can share, enter and access data.” Moreover, the use of the tool ties in well with the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.

To demonstrate the success that can be achieved by strategic planning, Butler highlighted the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score received by the Saint John Regional Hospital: the hospital received an 86, demonstrating top performance. In addition, a smaller health facility improved its score from 18 to 56 through the baseline measures provided by energy benchmarking.

Prior to Portfolio Manager, Excel spreadsheets were used to record energy data, which are easy to import into the tool. Butler said the facilities that have been integrated have found the tool very easy to use. Also, the tool is free, and technical support is readily available.

“Engagement and communication is key in getting facilities on board with Portfolio Manager,” says Butler, noting that awareness and engagement will help keep energy top of mind and engage staff to continually try to improve energy performance.

For more information on how your organization can start to benchmark energy consumption, visit www.nrcan.gc.ca/ENERGYSTARPortfolioManager.

Kingston General Hospital soars to energy efficiency heights

The Kingston General Hospital (KGH) boasts more than innovative medical advances. The facility is also making great strides in energy efficiency. Since 2010, $10 million has been earmarked for a host of energy projects that have turned the facility into one of the most energy-efficient acute care hospitals in Canada. That investment has led to savings of over 3.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in energy per year and more than 14 percent reduction in the facility’s carbon footprint, states Allan McLuskie, director of facilities.

Photo of Alllan Mc Luskie

Allan McLuskie, director of facilities at Kingston General Hospital, discusses the energy-saving steps the hospital has taken over the past five years.

The projects began in 2010 with the start of a major retrofit to the hospital infrastructure that would reduce energy costs and improve the efficiency of the buildings. The second energy project started in 2013. “These projects combined have netted us over $800,000 in energy and water savings and reduced our carbon footprint by over 14 percent,” notes Allan McLuskie, director of facilities at KGH. The hospital qualified for grants amounting to $500,000 from Ontario’s saveONenergy retrofit program through the local utility – Utilities Kingston.

Upgrades include the replacement of more than 9,500 light fixtures, 250 inefficient windows, air-handling systems and the replacement of 10 oil-fired boilers with high-efficiency gas-fired boilers. Insulation and weather sealing were also improved. Many of the upgrades were focused on the oldest parts of the building – 20 percent of the facility is over 100 years old. McLuskie explains that improving heating, cooling and water systems in such an old building was a challenge as was maintaining patient comfort at all times.

“It’s a combination of replacing old with new and hooking up our existing systems to building automation so we can control them better,” says McLuskie. “Despite our age, we are still able to become one of the most energy-efficient hospitals in the country.”

KGH has also been working on water conservation projects. For example, adding low-flow toilets and other more efficient water fixtures reduced water use by more than 25 percent.

The hospital has been recognized for its efforts by earning a 78 percent energy score on the North American ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, which charts energy and water use by acute care hospitals in North America. “We have jumped 25 percent from where we were five years ago,” added Gary Greene, KHG manager of plant operations and maintenance.

“The hospital will continue looking for energy efficiency opportunities and with incentives that help reduce the capital cost of projects, KGH will be able to save even more on energy costs,” notes Greene. McLuskie adds, “The money saved is now available to be spent where it matters — on patient care.”



Calendar of events and other important dates

The following list highlights key events:

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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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