Energy benchmarking for supermarkets and food stores

Energy use in supermarkets and food stores

Supermarkets are among the most energy-intensive commercial buildings. Their high energy consumption is largely attributed to refrigeration and HVAC. Energy costs are typically approximately 1% of sales, which is about the same as a store’s overall profit margin.Footnote 1

Drive up your competitive edge by reducing your energy consumption

In order to maintain your competitive edge in the food retail sector, consider a strategic plan to managing the energy in your store that starts with energy benchmarking. Energy benchmarking is a key best practice and the foundation for an effective energy management and decision-making plan. It is often an overlooked tool, yet once incorporated into your tool kit, it provides data that you can use to identify poorly performing buildings, invest strategically in energy efficient upgrades and track the effectiveness of the improvements undertaken.

Energy benchmarking – the basics

If you are new to the concept of energy benchmarking, visit the following links to learn more about this important energy management best practice and the benefits of benchmarking your store’s energy consumption.

Why benchmark with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?

Demonstrate your environmental leadership

Energy efficiency is one of the top sustainability priorities for many Canadian businesses. Many Canadian food retailers are committed to demonstrating effective energy management as solid stewards of resources and to minimize overhead costs in order to maintain low prices for their customers.

Benchmarking your store’s energy use with the free online ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool can support your organization’s sustainability initiatives. The tool provides an energy use baseline and a statistically valid benchmark created specifically for Canadian supermarkets and other food retailers that you can use to develop a compelling case for investments in energy measures in your supermarket or food store through building recommissioning, energy retrofits, or even simple scheduling or behavioural changes.

Benchmarking: a critical first step

Benchmarking can be a valuable tool in moving beyond national average performance to best-in-class performance. 

In 2013, Natural Resources Canada introduced ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free invaluable business planning tool, to Canada. To learn more about why your store should benchmark with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, read on:

A trend that is catching on

Thousands of other building types in Canada are already using the tool and are reaping the rewards of responsible energy use. Now the food retail sector in Canada can join the growing number of Canadian building owners and managers who have already reduced their energy bills by tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Proven results

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According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Data Trends, in the U.S. more than 15,500 supermarketsFootnote 2  are benchmarking their energy performance with an average annual energy savings of more than 2%.Footnote 3 Just imagine what your store could do with 2% of its energy budget.

What you need to know before you benchmark your supermarket or food store

The ENERGY STAR Score for Supermarkets and Food Stores in Canada applies to supermarkets, grocery stores, food sales and convenience stores with or without gas stations, but does not apply to restaurants.

To obtain a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score, in addition to your store’s basic tombstone information, you need the following building data:

  • Gross floor area
  • Number of cash registers
  • Number of computers
  • Number of workers on the main shift
  • Length in meters of refrigerated/frozen food display cases
  • Postal code (to retrieve the weather data for your location)
  • 12 consecutive months of energy use data*
    • Specific energy billing information for each building for all purchased energy. You will need to begin with at least 12 consecutive months for each energy source and update regularly with monthly usage data.

*You do not need 12 months of energy use data to start benchmarking. You can start using the tool to track your energy performance no matter how much accumulated data you have. However, in order to obtain the 1-100 score or an energy use intensity, you need 12 months.

For additional details on Portfolio Manager data requirements, visit Getting your house in order: your energy data.

Please consult the following link for technical documents related to the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for supermarkets and food stores in Canada: )

ENERGY STAR Score for supermarkets and food retail in Canada

Start ranking your performance

With the release of Natural Resources Canada’s newest ENERGY STAR score, supermarkets and food stores across Canada can now rank their energy-efficiency performance against other similar competitors.

What you can do to maintain and improve your store’s 1-100 ENERGY STAR score:

  • input new energy data regularly (monthly or quarterly)
  • review data for accuracy
  • use Portfolio Manager’s Data Quality Checker tool
  • review and update data to reflect changes in building characteristics/use at least quarterly
  • review reports and graphs regularly to identify trends and interpret data

The ENERGY STAR score provides a fair assessment of the energy performance of a property, relative to its peers, taking into account the climate, weather, and business activities at the property. The ENERGY STAR scores for the food retail sector in Canada are based on data obtained from the Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use - Buildings 2009 [PDF – 3.7 MB], a national survey of 2009 energy consumption conducted by Statistics Canada in 2010.

Resources for supermarkets and food stores in Canada

Want to keep abreast of updates to the latest energy benchmarking news, tips, articles, events and other information? If so, subscribe to Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency, NRCan’s monthly newsletter.

Don’t know where to start?

Check out our Building energy benchmarking resources. Here, you will find additional details on building energy benchmarking including tools, articles and other important information.

Need some training to get started?

NRCan will also be offering a series of webinars to support the launch of the new 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for supermarkets and food stores in Canada.  These webinars will cover:

  • General information on Canada’s energy benchmarking initiative for those who are new to using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and/or benchmarking. 
  • How to use the basic functions of the tool, with a particular focus on energy benchmarking for supermarkets, convenience stores and other Canadian food retail establishments.

For the full webinar schedule please visit our training resources page.


Other energy management resources

Our Capacity building resources  page provides you with one-stop shopping to energy-related information on Natural Resources Canada tools and publications, external resources, links to our newsletter, and references for a variety of other energy efficiency measures.  

Helpful Links and Reference Documents

The following is a list of documents to get you up to speed on energy benchmarking in the food retail sector:

Energy Efficient Products

Visit NRCan’s Energy Efficient Products page for information that will help you understand how to purchase efficient equipment for your store.


Canadian Grocer’s Sustainability Resource Centre
Canmet/Natural Resources Canada (Energy efficiency for supermarkets)
Food and Consumer Products of Canada
Greening Retail Program
Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association
Retail Council of Canada – Energy Bright Program
United States Environmental Protection Agency