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Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency – Volume 5, Issue 11

Volume 5, Issue 11

ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager – February 2019 Tool Updates Webinar

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is pleased to advise that there is a scheduled update of the Canadian adaptation of the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool planned for February 17, 2019. This update will include increased weather station coverage across Canada and the introduction of enhanced dashboard customization features. Also in this update, and forming a part of NRCan’s ongoing effort to ensure up-to-date energy performance data comparability for those building types that can generate the popular ENERGY STAR® Score metric, is the release of an updated ENERGY STAR® Score model for K-12 Schools in Canada. The release of this updated score will provide a better comparability of the energy performance of your K-12 School building to the current national K-12 School building stock.

Join us for a webinar on the details of this Portfolio Manager update and what they mean for your buildings. Register at the following links:

In French on December 13 at 11am EST
In English on December 13 at 1pm EST

Laying the foundation for Net-Zero Energy Ready building codes

The collaboration on the Net-Zero Energy Ready (NZER) project between the National Research Council’s Construction Research Centre (CRC) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) will help Canada meet its commitment under the Paris Accord promising to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The NZER project will support significant updates to building codes to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, as outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The project focuses on research to support solutions that may include superior insulation levels, high-efficiency mechanical systems, and/or very low levels of air leakage to reduce energy consumption, among other possibilities. It will also introduce significant economic, environmental and social benefits, and result in substantial energy use reductions for Canadians.

The work includes the development of best practices, new building standards and the development of energy-efficient technologies. In turn, research-based evidence will also assist the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) in deciding which code changes will facilitate the adoption of NZER model codes.

NRCan and the NRC are providing free online access to the 2017 version of the National Energy Code for Buildings (2017 NECB). This three-year pilot project will provide Canada with the opportunity to evaluate the benefits of moving towards the NZER model.

As more stringent energy code requirements are developed through the CCBFC, provinces and territories will be encouraged to adopt NZER codes for new construction and also improve the energy efficiency of existing housing and buildings by 2030.

Training Sparks Energy Efficiency at Xeni Gwet’in Nation

Xeni Gwet’in Nation, west of 100 Mile House in central BC, has been taking action on energy efficiency. Training and a new data management system for organizing community data are allowing for more effective planning. The Nation, who are already leaders in managing community energy demand and building renewable energy systems, are taking their energy efficiency goals one step further with these initiatives.


Community Power’s Todd McBride teaches Xeni Gwet’in Housing Manager Vera Quilt to use the eEthos data management system

Training is helping the community’s housing and administration staff to integrate energy efficiency into their everyday jobs, enabling them to be an active force in leading long-term energy savings in their community.

Staff were also trained in using eEthos, an online housing and energy management platform implemented by the community to automate, track, and prioritize operational tasks including housing maintenance, scheduling, and stock inventory. 

Community Power, who work alongside First Nation communities on energy and housing management, delivered the training and developed the eEthos platform, a software tool specifically designed for Indigenous communities. Natural Resources Canada funded both the training and the setup of the system in the community. 

Xeni Gwet’in’s Housing Manager Vera Quilt participated in the training. She’s looking forward to putting her learnings into practice and is excited about eEthos helping her to reduce her busy workload. “I use it mostly for house inspections and work orders so far. I gather info on the iPad and then sync it to my computer back at the office. If there’s a hole in the wall I can take a photo and upload it instead of taking so many notes.”

Looking ahead, Xeni Gwet’in and Community Power have a big vision for energy efficiency in the community. They are moving forward with plans to assess community-wide energy consumption then create a multi-year housing plan. They have also identified the immediate priorities for the Xeni Gwet’in community including addressing health and safety needs by fixing 11 homes with broken wood stoves and chimneys. Xeni Gwet’in and Community Power are currently working together to access funding to support these projects.


Local Xeni Gwet’in film star Ed Lulua and Community Power’s Uli Chorny strike a pose during work in the community

Xeni Gwet’in is an off-grid community reliant on diesel energy through a pay-as-you-go system. The community put the system in place to champion energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint. The Nation is now on the path to installing a solar project to supply community energy needs. The community has a centralized diesel generator that feeds distribution lines to the homes. Homes hooked up to the main community grid pay approximately $0.07/kWh but most homes are connected to smaller hybrid solar-diesel units and pay closer to $1/kWh.In an effort to address high energy costs and lack of energy infrastructure, the community has pulled together to reduce energy demand.

“We treasure electricity because we’ve never had it,” Vera said when asked about the community attitude to energy efficiency. “We don’t take it for granted. We never leave the lights on.”

Community members pay for energy through a card-based system. Cards are loaded at the local gas station. Many homes also have solar panels on their rooftops or a back-up generator.Xeni Gwet’in plans to continue working collaboratively with Community Power on all aspects of housing and energy management, including retrofits, planning and securing resources to achieve energy community goals.

Inaugural BOMA Canada Net Zero Challenge Awards given out at BOMEX 2018!

BOMEX 2018, held in Calgary in early October, marked a very auspicious occasion for the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA Canada), as the inaugural Net Zero Challenge Awards were presented.  The Net Zero Challenge, supported by Natural Resources Canada and sponsored by Bullfrog Power, recognizes the leadership of buildings demonstrating significant progress along the path toward net-zero energy usage and/or carbon emissions. Jay Khosla, NRCan’s Assistant Deputy Minister of Energy, was on hand to help present these awards to:

Best in Class: 980 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC; owned and managed by Manulife Real Estate (MFC-T) .

Most Improved: 4711 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON; owned by Marisa Construction Limited; managed by Menkes Property Management Services Ltd.

Innovation – Office Category:  Le 100 Alexis Nihon, Montreal, QC; owned and managed by Choice Properties REIT (CHP-UN-T).

Innovation – Universal Category: Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology, Woodbridge, ON; owned and managed by Earth Rangers Foundation.

NRCan offers hearty congratulations to all four winners, while acknowledging the commitment and effort of all who applied for these awards!

Black Diamond, an arena for energy efficiency

The Town of Black Diamond, Alberta is home to several green energy projects with more on the way. It’s setting an example for other municipalities to follow by showing that transitioning towards sustainability is well within reach.

The Oilfields Regional Arena is a remarkable part of Black Diamond’s success. For 2017, the solar panels at the Oilfields Regional Arena generated 21,172 kWh of power. 5,952 kWh of which was sold back to the grid. Yet that’s only one aspect of this energy efficient arena with an ENERGYSTAR score of 95!

An energy management system is used to control when systems operate, reducing utility consumption by the facility when not in use. Airflow, temperature, and lighting are all controlled to maximize efficiency.  A power meter connected to the system tracks the power consumed, demand and peak negative power sold to the grid. A low-emissivity ceiling allows for a higher ice temperature saving hundreds of hours of refrigeration. Low flow toilets and showerheads, new pipes, energy efficient pumps and better behaviour helped save roughly 300,000 gallons of water.  From insulation of exterior walls, a lighting retrofit to LED, thought and care has been put into every aspect of the arena.

The Scott Seaman Sports Rink has also benefited from green retrofits and boasts a solar system of its own.

“We have an outdoor refrigerated hockey rink and by using a weather station and having it shut off with the temperatures and at night it’s reduced the run-time by about 1,200 hours a year. That works out to about 30,000 kilowatts of power” – Les Quinton, Parks & Recreation Manager

It’s one of many projects in the community to help make Black Diamond a leader in sustainability. Such impressive achievements make many wonder how a municipality can afford such investments. Black Diamond uses a green reserve fund that is filled with the savings from energy efficiency and conservation initiatives and by their green energy projects. It’s a system that is helping Black Diamond achieve its sustainability goals.

Funding opportunities

NRCan provides financial assistance to support energy efficiency projects in Canada’s buildings sector to meet commitments under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The following programs are currently accepting proposals.

NRCan provides financial assistance to support energy labelling and disclosure projects for the commercial and institutional buildings sector. NRCan’s priority is to support provinces, territories, and municipalities implementing labelling and disclosure and other stakeholders within those jurisdictions.

Remarkable opportunities are now available for organizations looking to implement ISO 50001 in their commercial and institutional buildings, or industrial facilities. NRCan provides cost-shared financial assistance of up to 50% of eligible costs, to a maximum of $40,000 per building or facility. Moreover, this financial assistance can be combined with other funding sources where available.

Email with your questions or to request a project proposal template.

NRCan assesses project proposals prior to any funding approval. Project costs cannot be incurred prior to signing an agreement. The decision to approve any proposal is at the sole discretion of NRCan.

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.

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

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The ENERGY STAR and Portfolio Manager names and the ENERGY STAR symbol are trademarks registered in Canada by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and are administered and promoted by Natural Resources Canada.

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