ARCHIVED - Heads Up Energy Efficiency Newsletter - November 2011

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Canada and U.S. collaborate to save energy in commercial buildings

Further to our September 2011 issue article on energy benchmarking, we are pleased to report that on November 9, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) signed an agreement that will create a common platform for measuring and assessing the energy performance of commercial buildings in both countries.

“Energy benchmarking is an important aspect of an effective strategy to improve energy efficiency in buildings, because what gets measured gets done,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources. “This agreement is another example of how we are working with the U.S., through the Clean Energy Dialogue, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.”

Through the agreement important enhancements will be made to Portfolio Manager, including the development of a Canadian-based energy performance scale and the addition of Canadian reference data (weather, energy and emissions factors, and metric units). The tool will also be available in both official languages in 2013 and will not include a building labeling component.

Benchmarking your building's energy performance is a key first step to help you understand and make decisions about how to save energy and reduce your building's carbon footprint. Tracking your building’s energy consumption can help you rate your building’s energy performance, set investment priorities, identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, and receive recognition for superior energy performance.

For more information on the agreement, see the news release. For details on the NRCan’s energy programs, visit the ecoEnergy for Buildings website.

Stay tuned for more information!

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Share your energy management successes

HUEE regularly provides its readers with news and information about what the commercial and institutional building sectors are doing to reduce energy consumption and to 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 showing how you are implementing energy management in your building. Specifically, we are looking for examples of

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


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NECB 2011 – Supporting Canada’s Action on Climate Change

Further to our article in the July 2011 issue of HUEE, the 2011 National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) has now been published! Order your copy in printed or downloadable format through National Research Council Canada’s Virtual Store. The electronic version is available as a downloadable PDF file or through a Web-based subscription service.

National Energy Code of Canada
National Energy Code
of Canada
for Buildings

Key highlights of the 2011 NECB include

  • 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency compared to the 1997 Model National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (MNECB)
  • administrative simplification: removal of the energy source adjustment factor
  • an objective-based code format that is in alignment with the National Building Code
  • additional trade-off performance path options

The 2011 NECB provides minimum requirements for the design and construction of energy-efficient buildings and covers the building envelope, systems and equipment for heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, service water heating, lighting, and the provision of electrical power systems and motors. It applies to new buildings as well as to substantial renovations in existing ones and becomes mandatory after it is adopted by a regulatory authority.

The NECB was prepared by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes in partnership with the provinces and territories, with technical support and funding provided by National Research Council Canada (NRC) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

A key characteristic of the NECB is its overall performance improvement compared to the MNECB. The goal underlying development of its technical requirements was for a 25 percent improvement compared to the 1997 MNECB. The actual target achieved will be 26.2 percent, as determined by an external consultant’s evaluation. This result is a weighted average for the whole country and is based on many factors, including the energy performance level from which a region started. Its impact will be less in regions where energy efficiency construction practices are already higher than that specified in the MNECB and greater for those starting from a lower energy efficiency performance.

The release of the NECB is a significant achievement that will contribute toward the realization of the Government of Canada’s Action on Climate Change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. The development of a more stringent national energy code for buildings is an objective of the ecoENERGY Efficiency Initiative.

Free online presentations explaining the major changes in the NECB will be made available on the National Codes Web site in early 2012. For additional information and updates, visit the NRC Web site.

An update to the 2011 NECB is planned for 2016.

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Benchmarking commercial buildings is a growing U.S. trend that’s coming here

This article is part of a series on ecoENERGY Efficiency for Buildings; you can read the first article Opportunities for new, existing and federal buildings as it appeared in the September 2011 issue of HUEE.

NRCan’s Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) is currently adapting an American energy benchmarking tool for Canada. Benchmarking is an important aspect of an effective energy management plan. It provides a way for building owners and managers to learn about a facility’s energy use, pare down costs and consumption, and institute improvements to save money and emissions while enhancing market profile.

In the United States, benchmarking is being embraced as a point of entry into strategic energy management and is being undertaken by thousands of commercial enterprises each year that want to achieve these benefits. In fact, at least five major cities and two states have now made it mandatory.

For example, in 2007, California became the first state to make benchmarking mandatory and require disclosure of commercial building data to tenants, buyers and lenders. Although each jurisdiction has its own rules about public reporting on energy performance, benchmarking of commercial buildings is now also mandatory in Washington D.C., Austin, Texas, New York, New York, Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco, California.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) online Portfolio Manager is the most common way to benchmark office buildings, schools, grocery stores, hotels and hospitals. Data about a building’s energy use, size and operational characteristics is entered into Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager generates two reports from this data – the Statement of Energy Performance (SEP) and the Data Checklist. Together, and with verification by a third party expert, these reports establish a facility’s energy performance rating.

Buildings that receive an energy performance rating of 75 or more on the EPA’s 1-100 scale can apply for the prestigious ENERGY STAR recognition and /or use scores towards applications for LEED certification. Facilities that don’t receive good energy performance scores still benefit through a comprehensive look at where energy conserving efforts can improve performance and reduce costs.

Why benchmark?

Benchmarking involves documenting a building’s energy intensity, energy costs, water use and carbon emissions to determine its overall energy performance. By using a building’s energy performance rating, you can compare past and present energy consumption, determine how it compares to similar buildings, how it compares to the nation’s best in class and what best practices, if any, are in place.

Canada’s new national energy benchmarking tool will be based on the EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool. Available in 2013, the new tool will use information about building characteristics as well as Canadian national survey data to benchmark energy consumption, costs, operational practices, and provide commercial owners and managers with a blueprint for continuous improvement.

Get in the habit

We encourage you to get in the habit of benchmarking your energy use. You can familiarize yourself with the tool by visiting the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Benchmarking Starter Kit. If you are already benchmarking your facility’s energy consumption, contact us to share your experiences.

Stay tuned for more information!

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Learning to be sustainable: a lesson from British Columbia’s education sector

One of the greenest buildings in the world: UBC’s CIRS

The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) opened officially on November 3, 2011 at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The $37-million centre is expected to be North America’s most sustainable building and will be a hub for research and action on the world’s most pressing sustainability issues. The CIRS is a “regenerative” building, meaning that it will improve its surrounding environment, and has been designed to make building inhabitants measurably happier, healthier and more productive.

The facility is the most innovative and high performance building in North America, serving as a living laboratory to demonstrate leading-edge research and develop sustainable design practices, products, systems and policies.

The CIRS pushes the frontiers of sustainable construction materials and building techniques – reducing emissions, materials consumption, energy use and water use. Much of the building’s electricity, lighting and heating and all of its water supply, liquid waste treatment, ventilation and cooling – comes from the sun, the wind and the ground underneath it.

The new building will contain approximately 940 cubic metres (m3) of wood. More than one third of the wood will come from forests affected by the pine beetle infestation. Of that wood, 210 m3 will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council – the highest social and environmental standard for commercial wood in British Columbia.

Green Roof
On the second floor,
looking across atrium
to green roof.
The wall is made of
glass and solid
panels that use
light and shade
to control temperature.

The CIRS designers minimized the use of concrete and steel, which have a larger carbon footprint than wood. For example, the energy required to manufacture and install the concrete, glass, aluminum and brick used in the CIRS is estimated to emit approximately 525 tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).The wood used in the project will store an estimated 600 t of CO2e. As a result, the four-storey project will store 75 t more CO2e than is emitted during the production and installation of its building materials.

The certification of the CIRS will come through two of the world’s foremost third-party green building certification programs: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating SystemTM and The Living Building Challenge. The aim is to have the CIRS be UBC’s first LEED Platinum building and one of Canada’s first buildings to receive certification under The Living Building Challenge. By doing so, UBC is taking a leadership role in ground-testing sustainable urban development and demonstrating that buildings can address not only environmental sustainability, but also economic and social sustainability.

The CIRS is home to the UBC Sustainability Initiative, a new strategic management approach that integrates teaching and learning, research and operational sustainability at the UBC Vancouver Campus.

For more information on the facility, visit the CIRS Web site.

For more information, visit the OEE Web site on energy efficiency for buildings.

UBC Faculty of Law targets LEED Gold

UBC recently opened a new $56-million law building, Allard Hall. Built to achieve LEED Gold certification, the carbon footprint of Allard Hall will be as much as 87 percent smaller than that of an equivalent conventional building.

Allard Hall

Energy-efficient features of the new facility include

The facility is 13 100 square metres (m2) (141 000-square feet) and features flexible, modern teaching spaces, a replica courtroom and dedicated spaces for the faculty's nearly 650 students, 45 full-time faculty, and alumni and guests.

Named after donor and alumnus Peter A. Allard, Allard Hall will advance legal research and education in Canada, expand the presence of the UBC Faculty of Law in the community and honour its ties to British Columbia’s First Nations.

For more information on the facility, see the media release New UBC law building opens following Canada's largest law school donor campaign.

Okanagan College Centre of Excellence opens its doors

The Okanagan College Centre of Excellence has not yet opened officially but the students are already enjoying the new space. The Centre of Excellence was designed and built as an innovative, sustainable post-secondary facility highly adapted to its site, climate and context.

The 7300-m2 facility in Penticton, British Columbia, is one of the world’s greenest buildings. Designed to the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge, the building will be targeting net zero energy and water use. Careful design reduced energy consumption to a mere 65 kilowatts hours (kWh) of energy per square metre annually – compared to an average building that uses approximately 250 kWh/m2 every year. Two hundred and sixty-five kW of photovoltaic solar panels were installed to produce energy toward the net zero energy target.

The facility will support a program mix that focuses on sustainable building technologies, processes and trades, as well as research and development (R&D) related to alternative sources of energy and energy conservation. The innovative features of the building will be used as a teaching tool to train the next generation of trades people in green construction practices.

The $28 million-building will be a valuable teaching tool for students. Courses will focus on the construction methods and benefits of the design features. Programs planned for the new facility include Sustainable Construction Management Technology, Green Building Design and Construction and Onsite Alternative Energy Sources. Design ideas, such as the highly visible building systems and extensive metering and monitoring of the building, allow students to see the inner workings of the building.

Okanagan College

With support from an integrated design team, the facility features many innovative sustainable features, including a first-of-its-kind composite concrete/glulam wall panel system in the gymnasium that contains mechanical and electrical services. Natural ventilation is used throughout, with a notification system that indicates when windows should be opened. Sun-tracking solar light pipes magnify light and deliver it to dark areas of the building.

Key features of the building include

The Okanagan College Centre of Excellence in Penticton was selected as one of two Canadian buildings analyzed by using a new evaluation tool at the 6th World Sustainable Building Conference in Helsinki, Finland, held October 18 to 21, 2011.

NRCan was part of the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment – Sustainable Building Challenge 2011 (iiSBE SB11) Canadian Team. The team presented recent examples of the most environmentally advanced new buildings in Canada. Buildings were evaluated against a benchmark that represents current new building practices in the region where the buildings are located.

Specifically, the team was involved in the following tasks:

For more details on the Centre of Excellence, see the Okanagan College Project Backgrounder and Quick Facts page.

For more information on sustainable buildings, visit the NRCan Sustainable Buildings and Communities Group Web site.

Vancouver School Board gets top marks for sustainability

The Vancouver School Board (VSB) is working toward making all of its schools more energy efficient while providing a better working environment for students and staff. New and renovated schools incorporate many sustainability features, such as energy-efficient lighting and mechanical systems, environmentally friendly building materials, water and energy conservation mechanisms, and the use of sunlight and natural ventilation throughout the school building.

“We are proud to be recognized for our energy conservation efforts and to be leading the way amongst school districts in the province in this area," said Kirthi Roberts, Manager of Energy & Climate Action for VSB. "The Vancouver School Board is integrating energy, carbon-reduction and sustainability initiatives through our operations and management and student engagement activities.”

Facility-based sustainability initiatives are listed below.

Charles Dickens Elementary School – LEED Silver Project

Sir Charles Dickens Elementary School is the first accredited LEED® school in the Vancouver school district. The new school minimizes its ecological footprint and provides a healthy environment for more than 500 staff and students.

The total building area of 3555 m2 (38 266square feet) has 22 day-lit and geothermal heated classrooms, a library, special education rooms, post-disaster level gymnasium, a commons/lunch room, kitchen, rooftop teaching garden, rainwater collection (for all the toilet flushing needs) and an underground parkade.

Redesigned lighting systems and power management software on VSB computers

Redesigning lighting systems and installing power management software on school computers helped the VSB earn recognition as one of BC Hydro’s Top 10 Power Smart customers in the province for two years in a row.

One of the leading projects for the district was the installation of power management software on 10 000 school computers. The power management software is saving 2.5 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity per year. That is equivalent to over 7 percent of the district’s total energy bill.

Lighting systems in the district have also been analyzed and recent retrofits are reducing electricity consumption by another 2 million KWh (2 GWh) per year. Much of the energy savings can be attributed to the installation of energy-efficient T-8 fluorescent tubes, which give better quality light and significant energy savings. Some classrooms have been redesigned to include multiple light switches so the amount of light in the classroom can be controlled. Daylight and occupancy sensors have also been installed and contribute to energy savings.

Refrigerator Energy Reduction and Conservation Program

With support from the school district’s facilities department, four high schools conducted an audit of its refrigerators as part of a pilot project. The audit was conducted to determine the quantity, size, age, and energy consumption of the refrigerators. For each unit removed, the schools received cash equivalent to the electricity the units would have otherwise consumed in one year; these funds were redirected to other energy conservation and sustainability efforts in the schools.

The four schools collectively removed 34 inefficient refrigerator and freezer units, which were recycled in an environmentally responsible manner. As an incentive for reducing the total refrigerator count, the schools qualified for 16 new ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerators to replace some of the worst-offenders left behind.

This year, the VSB is expanding its refrigeration energy conservation program to include more schools – if all 109 schools in the district followed the example of the 4 pilot schools, energy saved on refrigeration would be equivalent to removing two to three elementary schools from the BC Hydro electricity grid forever. For more information, see the school board’s news release.

Solar Energy

With funding from the Province of British Columbia, Solar BC, Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) and Natural Resources Canada, the Vancouver School Board installed 5 solar hot-water (thermal) systems at 5 secondary schools in 2010. An additional solar-electric unit (photovoltaic) was installed in another secondary school with provincial funding. For further information, visit the board’s web page on its solar installations.

Awareness initiatives

BC Hydro Energy Ambassadors

Vancouver secondary school students are leading the way by working with BC Hydro to encourage energy conservation and sustainability in their schools through the BC Hydro Energy Ambassadors program.

UBC co-op student research on HVAC control systems

VSB hired a UBC co-op student to review the direct digital control systems in place across the school district and make recommendations for improvement to reduce electricity and heating loads in the schools. See the board’s web page on the UBC co-op student for further information.

Students participate in Green Building Conference

As part of the opening of the CIRS 'greenest building in North America', 16 VSB students from 8 schools participated in the 3 day Green Building Conference at UBC held November 3-5, 2011. Students had the opportunity to learn from, and be inspired by experts on sustainability from around the globe (including those from Oxford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). World renowned local experts such as David Suzuki and Prof. John Robinson from the University of British Columbia were also present at the conference.

For more information on the Vancouver School Board’s energy efficiency efforts, visit their Web page on Sustainable School Design.

For information on how your school can become more energy efficiency, visit the OEE Web site for publications for schools.

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Calendar of events

The Calendar of Events for Buildings is updated monthly. It lists energy efficiency conferences and training opportunities across Canada, including dates and locations for the 2011 Dollars to $ense workshops.

The following list highlights key events:

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Let us know what you think

Heads Up Energy Efficiency is published by NRCan’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 to share the success stories of those organizations that have benefited from positive change. Help us spread the word by sending this web link to your colleagues, and consider subscribing to our sister publication that looks at energy efficiency in industrial facilities, Heads Up CIPEC.

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