Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency – Volume 2, Issue 5 (May)


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Volume 2, Issue 5

CAN-QUEST building energy modelling software is now available for download

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has launched CAN-QUEST, new software for modelling building energy use. It is now available free for download.  CAN-QUEST is an adaptation of eQUEST 3.62, the popular United States-based energy simulation and code compliance-checking tool. CAN-QUEST allows users to demonstrate performance path compliance with the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB 2011) and supports the design of high-performance commercial and institutional buildings.

The NECB 2011 improves on the previous code, the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (1997), with new requirements that make it 25 percent more stringent. To date, five provinces (Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta) and one charter city (City of Vancouver) have adopted the NECB 2011.

While there are a number of other building energy simulation tools available, CAN-QUEST offers a few features its competitors do not. It supports Canadian weather data, both metric and imperial units, and has an English and French interface. And best of all, CAN-QUEST can automatically generate an NECB-compliant reference building and produce a compliance report. By building both the proposed and reference models simultaneously, the software cuts modelling time in half.

You can download the software for FREE from NRCan at nrcan.gc.ca/energy/software-tools/7417.

A manual for modelling building energy in CAN-QUEST is also available by contacting info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca.

Getting tenants on board and eliminating energy waste

Photo of people cheering

Maximum energy efficiency gains for buildings are best achieved when tenants and landlords work together toward a common goal. A building designed to perform well from an energy perspective may fall short of expectations if tenants are not engaged. Moreover, if systems are not well maintained or are not used as intended, buildings can waste significant amounts of energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers some practical suggestions for tenant engagement:

  • Share energy efficiency goals and energy use data with tenants. Post energy scorecards, offer website portals to access data, and provide regular reports on energy use and management.
  • Assess current energy use and practices to identify opportunities and create awareness campaigns. Building managers and owners can, for example, provide tenants with energy checklists and toolkits.
  • Raise awareness and educate tenants about their energy use and, more importantly, provide them with specific steps for reducing energy consumption while addressing their concerns.
  • Partner with and empower tenants. Consider establishing a joint committee  collectively set and achieve energy reduction goals. Energy-saving and management ideas should be solicited and welcomed from tenants.

Check out NRCan’s energy efficiency awareness guide: Implementing an Energy Efficiency Awareness Program, which can help building owners and managers get started on tenant education programs.

Reducing energy waste doesn’t have to be costly. The U.S. EPA has some useful tips for reducing power consumption that won’t break the bank, some of which require tenant engagement to be effective.

  • Operations and maintenance: Conducting after-hours audits of equipment, implementing routine maintenance of HVAC equipment and visually inspecting insulation for damage can reduce the amount of energy wasted.
  • Lighting: Maximizing daylighting, using task lighting, implementing a regular lighting maintenance program, reminding tenants to turn off unused lights, and de-lamping in overlit areas are easy ways to eliminate waste.
  • Office equipment: Installing vending machine misers and ensuring that tenants use the sleep mode on computers and turn off printers, copiers and fax machines can all deliver significant annual electricity savings.
  • Heating and cooling: Setting back and calibrating thermostats, regularly cleaning filters, controlling direct sunlight, repairing steam trap leaks, and repairing damaged insulation are simple to do and will control energy waste.

Building owners and managers can also take advantage of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to measure and track energy performance and local utility incentives for energy retrofits and/or energy audits.

For more information, visit www.energystar.gov/buildings/facility-owners-and-managers/existing-buildings/save-energy/stamp-out-energy-waste.

Become the 2015 Greenest School in Canada

The 2015 Greenest School in Canada contest has been launched and will soon be celebrating the winning school that best shows how sustainability can be woven into all parts of the school, thereby creating a healthy indoor and outdoor school environment.

Photo of children running

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) and the Canada Coalition for Green Schools sponsor the competition, now in its second year. The 2014 winner was Dunbarton High School, which boasts energy efficient retrofits, a rooftop solar water heating system, and a long-term biodiversity program that enables outdoor classroom learning. Moreover, Dunbarton has integrated sustainability issues into the student curriculum and initiated community projects that engage both students and the community.

“After a successful first year, I am looking forward to engaging more schools in the program and recognizing Canada's greenest school for 2015,” says Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of CaGBC. “Our 2014 winner, Dunbarton High School, impressed us with its efforts to provide an environmental education to its students and the community. I hope it inspires those applying to this year's competition to build on its success.”

All participating K-12 schools will be judged according to the following criteria:

  1. Efficient use of resources and reduced environmental impact.
  2. Enhanced health and learning among students, teachers and staff.
  3. Emphasis on sustainability and resource-conservation education.

Applications, available on CaGBC's competition website, are due on June 1, 2015, with the winner to be announced in September. The greenest school will receive $2,000 toward green school activities and will be entered into the Greenest School on Earth contest.

For schools new to going green or those looking to go even greener, NRCan offers information on benchmarking school energy use with Portfolio Manager, a valuable tool that can help increase sustainability and reduce operating costs. Energy benchmarking data helps facility managers gauge a school’s energy performance, identify opportunities for savings and set targets for improvements. Many schools are already registered in the tool and reaping the rewards.

"Green schools are more than just buildings, they are places where children learn and teachers prepare the next generation of leaders in thinking differently about how we can find solutions to our most pressing environmental issues," notes Mueller.

Visit the 2015 Greenest School in Canada contest website page for more information.

For more information on ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for schools, visit nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/buildings/energy-benchmarking/types/3745.

Avoiding common mistakes and moving ahead in building energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is a proven strategy to lower emissions and reduce energy use and costs. Energy efficient technologies, know-how and processes available today provide significant opportunities to reduce costs while contributing to a cleaner environment. Creating an energy plan and implementing changes, however, is not a simple, one-time project.

Common mistakes are often made in planning for and managing building energy efficiency. The good news is that they are easy to solve, and there are a number of resources from NRCan and other sources that can help. Here are three common mistakes and the resources that can help you overcome them.

Seeing energy as a fixed cost
Energy costs are not fixed and should not be thought of merely as necessary bills to be paid. Energy costs are controllable and, better yet, can often be reduced with simple changes. Energy consumption will be more visible when it is considered a variable cost and part of the cost of goods sold. Establishing a baseline and measuring energy costs before and after energy efficiency projects will help in developing an energy efficiency plan and will show tangible results.

NRCan’s Dollars to $ense Energy Efficiency Financing energy management workshop can help you calculate the financial value of energy efficiency projects and build your energy efficiency project business case. Resources for embarking on energy efficiency projects, including the financial aspects, are outlined in the Energy Efficiency for Existing Buildings section of NRCan’s website.

Not collecting your own energy use data
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. While many energy benchmarking tools are useful for comparing buildings at a higher level, nothing is better for addressing energy issues than accurate and complete building data since each building environment is different.

To support the systematic practice of identifying the root causes of energy waste and prioritizing conservation measures, time-series data from meters, submeters, sensors, and building equipment need to be collected, correlated and analyzed by the building team. Clean, accurate data about a facility are required before using analytics that will lead to the best-informed decisions and projects.

Rules-based monitoring, analysis of real-time and near real-time information, and streaming from energy meters and building equipment can reveal energy waste due to improper set points or faults in equipment.

This is where energy benchmarking comes in. Benchmarking helps you create a solid base from which to plan, and the Canadian adaptation of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the only tool that makes it possible to benchmark against a national average. The free, online Portfolio Manager tool helps building owners and managers monitor, rate and optimize their buildings’ energy use. The tool also offers an energy score for eligible building types that rates a facility in comparison to similar ones in the country, thus highlighting areas for improvement.

NRCan has a number of resources to help your building become more energy efficient, including Energy management best practices for existing buildings, as well as our Existing Buildings website content.

Thinking commissioning is a one-time project
Energy efficiency is not a one-time issue but an ongoing process. Energy reduction goals are not likely to be achieved through periodic retro-commissioning or using a SWAT team approach to fix one-time problems. While this one-off approach may provide temporary benefits, it will not improve energy performance over the long term.

Instead, building performance should be monitored continuously by gathering accurate data over a long period of time. This data can then be used to benchmark a facility’s performance against a baseline, helping building owners and managers keep track of their progress as energy efficiency measures are identified, analyzed, prioritized and implemented on an ongoing basis. To get the best results while benchmarking you should remember the following:

  1. Start with initiatives that give quick, tangible, and statement-making results that will build momentum.
  2. Make it a practice to measure before and after an Energy Efficiency Measure (EEM) in order to document your successes.

Many facilities already have the connected infrastructure to support cloud-based data management and the analytics software for continual, ongoing building commissioning. If these resources are not available internally, consider securing sufficient resources, where feasible, to get the job done, including external consultants.

NRCan also offers other resources that will help you move from sporadic energy projects to long-term energy planning and monitoring such as the Recommissioning Guide for Building Owners and Managers and the Dollars to $ense Recommissioning for Buildings energy management workshop.

Energy efficiency is an ongoing, ever-evolving process, but by avoiding a few common mistakes and using the range of Capacity Building Resources available through NRCan, you can take the right steps toward saving energy and saving money.

Award-winning energy efficiency and benchmarking measures at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) has had ambitious energy efficiency targets since 1996, when its Board of Governors approved the formalized energy management program (EMP). The EMP’s original mandate was to control and reduce energy use on the UNB Fredericton campus by investing $3.4 million to upgrade its buildings and equipment. The EMP also considered the campus’ occupants: the students, teachers and guests who would benefit from improved, efficient lighting and a more comfortable environment conducive to research and learning.

Since that time, more than 100 projects have been carried out, which have produced savings of $9.79 million and reduced CO2 emissions by 40 percent. The energy projects, including lighting and building control system upgrades, were designed to pay for themselves through utility cost savings in five years or less.

In conjunction with Efficiency New Brunswick (Efficiency NB), UNB’s maintenance and operational staff also participated in a Dollars to $ense customized energy management workshop. The training was very successful and provided the staff with the necessary tools to identify and take advantage of savings.

UNB benchmarks its energy use in several ways, including BOMA BESt® building audits and energy management software to compare historical energy data with current data. In addition, UNB is examining other energy benchmarking tools, including ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, to see how it could enhance existing benchmarking practices.

UNB’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2010, the university received Efficiency NB’s Energy Efficiency Champion – Commercial Sector award in recognition of its commitment to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. In 2014, UNB received the New Brunswick Premier’s award for Outstanding Energy Efficiency Project – Commercial Retrofit Category by ranking first for greatest energy savings and having the greatest percentage decrease in the Energy Utilization Index (EUI).

UNB’s future plans include the installation of its first SolarWall® by the end of summer 2015 and increased stakeholder involvement to systematically foster a culture of energy efficiency throughout the university community.

For more information visit the University of New Brunswick website.

Successful energy performance contract at the 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown

A successful energy performance contract (EPC) project at the 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown (5CDSB Gagetown) not only reduced the base’s cost to taxpayers but also provided some valuable lessons for energy efficiency projects. The project included the largest lighting retrofit upgrade ever implemented in Atlantic Canada at the time and resulted in annual energy savings of $1.6 million.

5CDSB Gagetown is one of the largest military bases in Canada, covering over 1,100 square kilometres and housing more than 450 permanent buildings, including 22 armouries, throughout New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. After its first EPC project in 1995, the main base at 5CDSB Gagetown added more than 90,000 square metres in new building space, increasing its infrastructure by more than 27 percent. The base awarded the $16-million project to Direct Energy, a qualified energy service company (ESCO), through a competitive bidding process under the Federal Buildings Initiative (FBI).

Their energy performance contract included substantial improvements in submetering; a lighting retrofit of more than 132,000 lamps and ballasts; installation of T-8 fixtures, T-5 fixtures and occupancy sensors in offices, hallways and washrooms; upgrades to high-efficiency boilers; and the installation of a SolarWall®.

Lessons learned

The project also provided some valuable lessons. The rapid expansion of the base after its first EPC, combined with the lack of effective metering, made it difficult for 5CDSB Gagetown to establish a solid baseline of energy consumption and demand, which resulted in the delay of the project. This lesson highlights the important role benchmarking and energy use tracking play in EPC and retrofitting projects.

Some things can’t be planned for, and profound changes in the economic environment around 5CDSB Gagetown resulted in the reassessment of a biomass plant planned for the main base. While a detailed feasibility study should be done before large components are added to a project, some risks can’t be anticipated.

Significant benefits were still achieved through the measures implemented at 5CDSB Gagetown and at the 22 armoury facilities, despite the removal of one of the project’s main components. In the end, the project cost $16 million and resulted in annual energy savings of $1.6 million. See the full case study for more information.

Share your energy management successes

Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency regularly provides its readers with news and information about what the commercial and institutional building sectors are doing to reduce energy consumption and contribute to a sustainable future.

We want to learn how your organization has made a difference. Let others be inspired by your success! Send us your stories about how you are implementing energy management in your building.

E-mail your success stories, explaining how you made positive changes in your facility. And keep up the good work!

Calendar of events and other important dates

CAN-QUEST software training

  • The Alberta Chapter of the CaGBC and the City of Calgary will host a CAN-QUEST training session for beginners and for more experienced modellers in Calgary early in June. For more information visit the Canadian Green Building Council website.

Dollars to $ense Energy Management workshop:

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 focuses on energy efficiency in industrial facilities, Heads Up CIPEC.

We welcome reader feedback and are always interested in your story ideas.

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