Benchmarking - Frequently Asked Questions

ENERGY STAR Benchmarking for Buildings in Canada

We are currently improving our FAQs with new and updated questions to help with your concerns. If you have additional questions, please contact us at nrcan.buildings-batiments.rncan@canada.ca

1. Energy Benchmarking

  1. What is energy benchmarking?
  2. What are the benefits of benchmarking?
  3. How much does benchmarking cost?
  4. How can I participate in Natural Resources Canada's Canadian Circle of Champions?

2. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

  1. What is ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?
  2. How can I get training on Portfolio Manager?
  3. How does the ENERGY STAR 1-100 rating system and the ENERGY STAR score work?
  4. What property types are eligible to receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?
  5. What will be the next building type for which a 1-100 ENERGY STAR performance score is developed?
  6. Are there reporting capabilities that will measure and report against the 2007 base year history with respect to Bill 17 (the Ontario Clean Energy Act) given the fact that 2007 is over 48 months in the past?
  7. Does Portfolio Manager use metric or imperial units?
  8. Will a score for multi-unit residential buildings and high-rise apartments be available anytime soon?
  9. I'm getting an error about numeric values for dates when uploading.
  10. Where is Canadian building data being stored?
  11. How do I benchmark my property if there is no score?
  12. How do I get rid of meter gaps?
  13. How do I get rid of meter overlaps?
  14. How do I select meters to be included in the metrics for my building?
  15. What should I include in the gross floor area for my building/property?
  16. I’m getting a gross floor area alert. Help.
  17. How do I edit my building’s gross floor area metrics?
  18. How do I enter parking?
  19. How do I determine occupancy of my building?
  20. Is it possible to change a Property Use Type (e.g. from Retail to Office)?
  21. The weather station for my property is incorrect. How do I fix this?
  22. What constitutes a single structure? What if multiple buildings are connected via hallways, common spaces, etc.?
  23. How do I account for vacant space at my property?
  24. What should I use for occupancy level if it fluctuates?
  25. Can I enter a negative meter for energy I produce on site and distribute to other buildings?
  26. What are the eligibility criteria for the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?

3. ENERGY STAR Certification

  1. How do I apply for ENERGY STAR certification?
  2. Is there a fee to use Portfolio Manager or to apply for ENERGY STAR certification?
  3. When does my application for certification expire?
  4. When can I re-apply for certification?
  5. Can I get certification for a property that is not 100% occupied?
  6. Where can I find the Licensed Professional’s Guide?
  7. How much does it cost for a Licensed Professional to review an application for certification?
  8. What can I exclude from my property?

4. Web Services

  1. I am an energy service provider and clients are asking me about exchanging data with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager using web services. What is this and is it available Canada?

5. Other:

  1. Who should I contact if I have additional questions or comments?

1. Energy Benchmarking

1. What is energy benchmarking?

Energy benchmarking is the process of tracking and recording a building's energy use and comparing it with that of other buildings similar in size and function. Benchmarking enables you to measure your building's performance against that of other buildings in your sector, against a national average or against a set standard of best practices. You can also compare your building's current performance against its previous performance or against other buildings in your portfolio.

2. What are the benefits of benchmarking?

Benchmarking identifies opportunities you can seize to improve your building's energy performance. By comparing the energy efficiency of your building to that of other facilities, benchmarking helps you prioritize capital upgrades and uncover ways to achieve operational savings. Benchmarking can also help you make your case for recommissioning projects to investors and senior managers. No building owner or manager wants to have a poor energy-performance record.

3. How much does benchmarking cost?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is free to use, requires no installation, and is accessible from any computer with an internet connection. There may be some cost associated with the time involved in setting up your account and entering your data, but this investment should be minimal, and it offers an excellent return on investment.

See Getting started with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for tips on getting your account set up quickly and easily.

4. How can I participate in Natural Resources Canada's Canadian Circle of Champions?

To be a Natural Resources Canada Energy Benchmarking Champion is simply to be an organization that routinely benchmarks its energy use and, more importantly, uses this data to inform investment decisions and/or take action within the organization's buildings. Natural Resources Canada would like to work with building sector champions to encourage the widespread adoption of energy benchmarking. Participation is simple. Submit information to us via info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca about how you benchmark, what software you use, and how you use the data. We will take your success story, write a case study, and promote your organization’s benchmarking accomplishments on our website, recognizing your company as a Natural Resources Canada Energy Benchmarking Champion.

2. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

1. What is ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows you to track and assess energy and water consumption across your entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment.  It is free to use and offers weather-normalized energy use intensity values, greenhouse gas emissions metrics, sharing and reporting features, and 1-100 performance scores for eligible building types.

The tool was created by the U.S. EPA, and in 2013, NRCan launched its adaptation of the tool for use in Canada, featuring a bilingual interface, Canadian weather data, and 1-100 energy performance scores for eligible building types, based on real Canadian data.

For more information, see All about Portfolio Manager .

2. How can I get some training on Portfolio Manager?

Visit our Training resources page or contact us directly.

3. How does the ENERGY STAR 1-100 rating system and the ENERGY STAR score work?

Through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, your energy performance will be rated on a score of 1 to 100. A rating of 75, for example, indicates that your building performs better than 75 percent of similar buildings from an energy consumption standpoint. Scores take into consideration factors such as weather, geographic location, building attributes and operating characteristics.

4. What property types are eligible to receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?

Among the more than 80 property types built into Portfolio Manager, those listed below are eligible to receive a 1–100 ENERGY STAR score, which compares your property to similar properties nationwide. A score of 50 represents median energy performance, while a score of 75 means your building is a top energy performer — and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

  1. Commercial office.
  2. K-12 school.
  3. Hospital.
  4. Ice/curling rink.
  5. Medical office.
  6. Senior care communities and residential care facilities.
  7. Supermarket/grocery store (includes supermarket/grocery store, food sales, and convenience store with or without gas station)

5. What will be the next building type for which a 1-100 ENERGY STAR performance score is developed?

NRCan is always working to develop new energy performance scores for more building types. Keep an eye on What’s new with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager? to find out what scores we’re working on, or check ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for specific building types to see if your building type is already eligible for a score.

6. Are there reporting capabilities that will measure and report against the 2007 base year history with respect to Bill 17 (the Ontario Clean Energy Act) given the fact that 2007 is over 48 months in the past?

As long as the energy consumption data is in the tool, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager will allow you to set the baseline year of your choice and obtain reports based on that year.

7. Does Portfolio Manager use metric or imperial units?

You can choose to enter data and view performance metrics in either imperial units or metric units.

8. Will a score for multi-unit residential buildings and high-rise apartments be available anytime soon?

Tracking and comparing the energy use in multi-unit residential buildings can be challenging because of the variety of ways energy is metered and tracked in these buildings. Natural Resources Canada currently does not have enough statistically sound data to develop a 1-100 ENERGY STAR performance score for this building type.

Multi-unit residential buildings can still use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark their energy use against their own past performance. In cases where residential units are metered individually, building owners can work with their utilities to get access to aggregate consumption data that can be used to benchmark their buildings.

9. I am getting an error about numeric values for dates when uploading.

You may get this error when uploading a spreadsheet upload file:

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In order for the template to recognize dates, the format of your input in Excel needs to match the date format of your operating system (OS). If the date formats do not match, Excel will not recognize your inputs as dates, and Portfolio Manager will not be able to accept your template.

You can verify/modify the format of your Windows operating system by:

  • Opening the “Control Panel.”
  • Selecting “Region and Language.”
  • Choosing your preferred format in the “Short date” field:

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10. Where is Canadian building data being stored?

Both Canadian and U.S. data is stored on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) server. Canadian and U.S. data is separated from the US data.  The EPA does not have access to Canadian data, and has to obtain authorization from Natural Resources Canada to access Canadian data.

For more information, visit our page on Data safety and security protocol.

11. How do I benchmark my property if there is no score for my building type?

If there is no ENERGY STAR score for your Property Type, you can still use ENERGY STAR Portolio Manager to:

  1. Compare with the national median. For every property type, Portfolio Manager shows national median values for energy use, cost, and greenhouse gas emissions. You can access these national median metrics in several places:
    • You get a comparison to the national median in the top corner for each property (that doesn't get a score):

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    • From the Goals tab, you can see a comparison of several metrics against the median

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    • All of our chart and graph reports show the proportion of your properties that perform better than the median.
    • You can create custom reports that incorporate the national median energy, cost, and emissions values. (See full list of metrics).
  2. Benchmark against your property's historic energy performance and set a target reduction. You can enter any property type into Portfolio Manager and track a diverse set of metrics over time, such as the Site Energy, Source Energy, Weather Normalized Energy by Fuel Type, Costs, and Emissions. You can set targets for one or more of these metrics to track improvement between two time periods. The weather normalized values (available for Site Energy, Source Energy, Electricity and Gas) can help you isolate your performance changes while adjusting for changes in weather. You will see some of these metrics right when you click on your property. You can also create a custom report to view even more.
  3. Establish a benchmark based on the rest of your properties. If you have multiple properties of a similar type without a score, you can calculate the average Source Energy Use Intensity (GJ/m2) across all of your properties. This average can serve as a benchmark by which to judge the relative performance of your properties. You could similarly compare your portfolio using the energy cost, water consumption, or greenhouse gas emissions. 

12. How do I get rid of meter gaps?

If you get an alert that you have meter gaps, this means your meter bills do not cover every single day of the year.

Our meter rules:

  • The Start Date of a meter entry can be:
    • the same day as the End Date of the last meter entry
    • the day after the End Date of the last meter entry
  • You will get a warning message if there are any days not covered in a meter entry beginning with the Date Meter became Active. If you’re missing data from years ago, and you're not concerned with metrics for that year, ignore it.
  • You will NOT get metrics for a given year if you are missing any days, for any active meters, within that 12-month period.

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How to fix:

  • Click on a date to update it, then click Save Bills at the bottom of the screen.
  • If you need to add a new entry, click Add Another Entry, enter the data, then click Save Bills at the bottom of the screen. After you save, it will be put into chronological order.

13. How do I get rid of meter overlaps?

If you get an alert that you have an "overlap" in a meter, this means you have two or more meter bills that cover the same day(s) within the year.

Our meter rules:

  • Meter dates can overlap at the most by one day (the End Date of one bill = the Start Date of the next)
  • You will get a warning message if there are any overlaps in meter entries. If your overlapping data is from years ago, and you're not concerned with metrics for that year, ignore it.

How to fix:

  • Click into a date or quantity to update it, then click Save Bills at the bottom of the screen.
  • If you have duplicate entries (a common mistake), you'll need to delete one: check the box next to the entry, click Delete Selected Entries, then Save Bills. See this FAQ for more info.

14. How do I select meters to be included in the metrics for my building?

On the Energy tab (or Water or Waste tabs) you can Change Meter Selections (find the link above the table that lists your meters). On this page (see below), you select which meters to include in your metrics, and whether those meters account for all of the property's energy (or water/waste).

Most properties will check the boxes for all their meters, and select the first option: “These meters account for the total energy...”

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Buildings with sub-meters and sometimes campuses will have different answers.

15. What should I include in the gross floor area for my building/property?

The Gross Floor Area (GFA) is the total property area, as measured between the exterior walls of the building(s). This includes all finished areas inside the building(s) including supporting areas.

GFA is not the same as rentable space, but rather includes all area inside the building(s). Rentable, or leasable, space is a sub-set of GFA.

While Parking GFA should not be included in your Property GFA, you may need to enter your Parking GFA if you do not sub-meter it. (Refer to the FAQ “How do I enter parking”.)

16. I am getting a gross floor area alert. Help!

If you are getting a gross floor area (GFA) alert, it might be because you changed the GFA of one Property Use, but didn’t change another Property Use to offset it, on exactly the same day, in the exact same amount. For example, say you have an Office & Retail Property with a total GFA of 40,000 m2:

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On December 1, 2015, you vacated 5,000 mof the Office to expand your Retail Store. You adjusted the Office Property Use down by 5,000 mon December 1, 2015. But since the new Retail Store didn’t open until January 1, 2016, you did not adjust that GFA up by 5,000 muntil January 1, 2016. But now your Property Uses don’t add up to the property total of 40,000 m2:

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The problem is that there is 5,000 m2 unaccounted for during one month (you subtracted 5,000 m2 on December 1, but added 5,000 m2 on January 1). Because your Property Use GFAs are all time-weighted, the GFA for a property use may look funny for the 12 months after a change. But the total of all Property Uses (“Property GFA (Buildings)”) should always add up to the total GFA for your property.

Please note this will not affect your property's eligibility for ENERGY STAR Certification.

17. How do I edit my building’s gross floor area metrics?

Your property’s Gross Floor Area (GFA) is tracked in four different metrics:

  • Property GFA – Self-Reported is the number you enter when you first create a property. It can be edited on the Details tab, under Basic Information. This value does not change over time, and it is not time weighted. If you edit it, it deletes the previous value without saving a record of what it had been.
  • Property GFA – ENERGY STAR Calculated (Buildings and Parking) is the sum of the GFA of all the Property Uses that you entered on the Details tab, including parking GFA. This value is time weighted.
  • Property GFA – ENERGY STAR Calculated (Buildings) is the sum of the GFA of all the Property Uses that you entered on the Details tab, excluding parking GFA. This number should match your “Property GFA – Self-Reported.” If you have Property Uses that change area frequently (like office space going vacant), this is a good check to make sure all of your Property Uses add up to the right number. This value is time weighted.
  • Property GFA – ENERGY STAR Calculated (Parking) is the sum of the GFA of your Partially Enclosed and Completely Enclosed Parking Property Uses that you entered on the Details tab. This value is time weighted.

Your Self-Reported GFA should equal either the total for Buildings only, or for Buildings and Parking, depending on how you are benchmarking your parking. Learn more about how to benchmark parking.

18. How do I enter parking?

You have two options to receive an ENERGY STAR score for a property with parking:

  1. Sub-meter your parking and exclude its energy and gross floor area (GFA). (*Recommended*)
    1. Do not enter a parking Property Use.
    2. Do not enter the energy for your parking.
    3. If your parking garage is physically connected with your building and part of a single structure, then the parking (completely or partially enclosed) cannot account for more than 75% of the total Property GFA. For example, a property that is 100,000 m2, with 80,000 m2 Parking and 20,000 m2 Office, is considered a Parking Garage by ENERGY STAR and is not eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. This limit does not apply to open parking lots.
    4. If your parking garage is not physically connected to your building, but rather is a separate structure, then there is no limit as to its size. 
  2. Benchmark your parking with your building and include its energy and GFA. 
     
    1. Do not include Parking GFA in your Self-Reported Property GFA.
    2. Include your Parking GFA in a separate Parking Property Use.
      • Report the GFA of each type of parking (completely enclosed, partially enclosed and open).
    3. Include all parking energy in your energy meters.
    4. Regardless of physical connection, the GFA of your Parking (completely enclosed and partially enclosed) cannot account for more than 50% of your total Property GFA.

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Why? The ENERGY STAR score provides an assessment of the building, not its parking area. If it is not possible to sub-meter your parking area, then Portfolio Manager will estimate the amount of energy your parking uses and subtract that out before calculating your metrics.

19. How do I determine occupancy of my building?

Occupancy is the percentage of your property’s gross floor area (GFA) that is occupied and operational. For example, if you have a 10-storey office building that on average has 9 of its 10 floors fully leased and occupied, the occupancy would be 90%. There is only one occupancy rate for each property as a whole.

You first enter the occupancy when you create the property, but you can change it on the Details tab. Here are instructions for what to do when your occupancy fluctuates.

The value you enter for occupancy will not affect your ENERGY STAR score or any other metrics. Your property's score is based on the specific use details (number of workers, number of computers, etc.). So when you have changes to occupancy/vacancy, you need to update your Use Details to accurately reflect the activity at your property.

The value you enter for occupancy could affect your eligibility for ENERGY STAR Certification. We have the following minimum occupancy requirements:

  • Office / Financial Centre must be greater than 50%

If you are not seeking certification for one of the above property types, you may not find occupancy very useful (though it is required, so enter a good guess and move on). However, you may find it helpful to compare properties with different occupancy levels across your portfolio using custom reports.

Today, you enter a single occupancy rate, but you cannot track changes over time or see values from previous years. However, the ability to track values over time is on our “wish list” of possible enhancements, and, when built, you will be able to compare your occupancy rate with your energy/water usage for each property.

20. Is it possible to change a Property Use Type (e.g. from Retail to Office)?

No. It is not currently possible to change a Property Use Type once it has been created (e.g. from Retail to Office).

As a work-around, you can delete the old Property Use and add a new Property Use (or add the floor area to an existing property type).

To make this change:

  1. Open the property to the Details tab. 
  2. Locate the Property Use you wish to replace and gather (print or write down) its Property Use Details, so you can copy them to the new Property Use.
  3. Return to the Details tab and use the Add Another Type of Use drop-down menu to select the appropriate new Property Use.
  4. To the right of this drop-down menu, click Add.
  5. Enter the Property Use Details (hours of operation, gross floor area, etc.).  You may need to edit the Current As Of date selected.
  6. Click Save Use.
  7. Return to the Details tab and find the Property Use you want to remove. Under the Action column, select Delete Use. A warning notification will pop up.  This deletion is permanent.
  8. Click Continue to delete the incorrect Property Use.

21. The weather station for my property is incorrect. How do I fix this?

If you think your weather station is incorrect, please contact us at info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca and let us know the specifics. Portfolio Manager assigns weather stations based on postal codes (zip codes) and there is no way for a user to override this selection.

We get our list of weather stations from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), part of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NCDC updates its data on a regular basis, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency updates historical data in Portfolio Manager on an annual basis to accommodate any modifications and corrections from NCDC. 

Properties outside of the U.S. and Canada need to select their own weather stations when they set up a property, because Portfolio Manager does not maintain an inventory of international postal codes.

For more information:

A map of the weather stations used in Portfolio Manager is included in our technical reference document: Climate and Weather. (See Figure 1 for the U.S. and Canada and Figure 2 for international). There are 778 weather stations for the U.S., 153 stations for Canada, and 2,368 stations for other countries.

22. What constitutes a single structure? What if multiple buildings are connected via hallways, common spaces, etc.?

A "single structure" is a building where all of its parts share an actual, physical connection that is complete and indivisible. In other words, two buildings must share functional space that cannot be divided among the buildings (such as underground parking, an atrium, or conference space) to be considered a single structure. Hallways or interior walking paths between buildings are not considered functional, shared space, even if they are lighted and/or heated. The building's ownership and shared HVAC system have no impact whether a building is a single structure.

Note - Recommended best practice is to benchmark each building separately because that will isolate potential problems and help you find the most cost-effective improvements. However, we know it’s not always possible. Here are some examples to help you determine if you can pass the "single structure" test.

Example - Single structure:

  • An office building that has three storeys of common space including an atrium, a cafeteria, and seamless connections between two towers can be considered a single structure, even though it may appear as two above ground towers.
  • A single tower with an office on floors 1-8 and a senior care community on floors 9-14. Although you may think of the office and senior care community as separate, and they may even be run by separate companies, this is one single tower and should be benchmarked at the whole-building level, including both the office and senior care community. Properties that are vertically stacked liked this, are ALWAYS a single structure because they share an indivisible actual, physical connection.
  • Side-by-side buildings that share a wall are considered separate buildings because they do not share any functional space (such as a lobby, or underground parking).

Example - NOT a single structure

  • An office complex that consists of two buildings connected by an outdoor (covered) walkway is not considered a single structure, and energy use in these buildings must be separately benchmarked.
  • Two office towers that have no physical connection, but share a central plant and energy meters, are not considered a single structure because there is no physical, structural connection.

Example - Either a single structure or multiple buildings:

  • Two office towers built on top of an underground parking garage may be considered a single structure or (preferably) each of the towers may be benchmarked individually (don't include the parking energy), provided they have complete, measured energy data. The recommended best practice is to benchmark each building separately, but this case may be considered a single property.

If you have a property that cannot qualify as a single structure, but the structures are not separately metered, you may benchmark it as a single building, but you will not be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

If you want to be eligible for certification, you will need to install an additional meter to separately meter each building. Installing separate meters is an energy management best practice because it will isolate problems and target the most efficient improvement opportunities.

23. How do I account for vacant space at my property?

If an average of 10% or more of your building’s Gross Floor Area is vacant for the 12 months you are tracking, the vacant space must be input as a separate Property Use as follows:

  • Property Type = Property Type that it would be if it were occupied (Office, Medical Office, etc).
  • Weekly Operating Hours = 0
  • Workers on Main Shift = 0
  • Number of Computers = 0
  • Percent Heated and Percent Cooled = Report conditioning as it occurs in the vacant space

Note: Only Offices, Medical Offices, and Financial Offices are required to enter vacant Property Uses.

The below property types also have a minimum occupancy requirements, so if your vacancies put your occupancy below these levels, you will need to update your occupancy as well.

  • Office and Financial Office: >50%

24. What should I use for occupancy level if it fluctuates?

The occupancy level is important to get right when applying for ENERGY STAR Certification for these property types, which have a minimum occupancy requirement:

  • Office and Financial Office: >50%

If you have one of these property types and the occupancy level fluctuates, calculate the average occupancy over a period of time (if you are applying for certification, the occupancy needs to be based on the year in your application). For example, if the property was 50% occupied for the first half of the year, then 100% occupied for the second half of the year, the occupancy level would be 75% for the year.

If you are not seeking certification for one of these property types, don’t overthink it (though it is required, so enter a good guess and move on). Your occupancy rate does not affect your score or any of your metrics.

25. Can I enter a negative meter for energy I produce on site and distribute to other buildings?

Yes, in certain situations. If you are using a negative meter to capture energy that you produced on site and sell back to the grid or distribute to another building, you can subtract the energy you distribute but you need to make sure you subtract it in the same form that you purchased. Here are two examples:

  1. Electricity is generated onsite from solar panels and sold back to the grid. The electricity needs of the building are obtained entirely from the grid. The energy produced on-site and sold back to the grid may be entered as negative.
  2. Using a gas boiler to produce steam, and then measuring steam distributed to the building next door. In this case, the boiler takes gas as an input, but distributes steam. If the fuel purchased (gas) differs from the fuel produced (steam) then additional calculations need to be performed before subtracting anything.

Special calculations are required if subtracting energy produced on site by any of the following:

  • Boiler
  • Chiller
  • CHP Plant
  • Onsite Solar or Wind

In these cases, you cannot simply enter negative values directly from the outgoing meter. Rather, you need to follow the instructions below to ensure that you correctly account for the conversion of energy. For more detailed information and specific examples about why these calculations are necessary, please refer to the Technical Reference document for Negative Energy Consumption

Whenever a negative meter value is entered, you will be asked to indicate the reason for the negative value(s). The following table shows the reasons you can select, and whether or not negative meter entries are appropriate in each situations.

My utility bill shows negative values. Yes. But we recommend you double-check with your utility to find out why the value is negative. This could happen if a utility estimates earlier readings and later corrects/fixes your values.
I am subtracting energy that I purchased from a utility (such as grid electricity). I am subtracting either:
  • Energy being sent to another building: Yes. Negative values may be entered directly off your outgoing sub-meter.
  • Energy being used for part of my property that I want to exclude (e.g., cell tower, EV station, parking garage). If you are excluding part of your property, see the FAQ “What can I exclude from my property?” for more information.

 

I am subtracting energy that I produced at my property (such as steam from a boiler). I am subtracting either:
  • Energy being sent to another building. Only after performing additional calculations. Use the  Negative Energy Consumption Calculator  to help you perform the required calculations.
  • Energy being used for part of my property that I want to exclude (e.g., cell tower or parking garage). If you are excluding part of your property, see the FAQ “What can I exclude from my property?” for more information.

 

I am subtracting solar or wind energy generated at my property. No. We offer a special column in onsite Solar and Wind meters, where you can enter information about exports to the grid or to other properties. You may want to consult the Technical Reference on Green Power.
Other. District system return condensate lines cannot be entered as a negative meter because there is no way to adjust for the efficiency of your specific district steam system.

 

Or, contact us with a detailed description of your situation, and we’ll let you know what to do

26. What are the eligibility criteria for the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?

There are several criteria to meet to obtain a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score.

Property type:

To get a score:

  • At least 50% of the building’s floor area (excluding parking lots) must be made up of a single eligible property type.
  • Parking area must not be larger than the total gross floor area of the building.
  • Ineligible property types can make up no more than 25% of the total floor area.

Energy data: To get a score, you must enter energy meters that account for all energy use for all fuel types (electricity, gas, oil, steam, onsite renewable energy, etc.) in the whole building, regardless of who receives or pays the utility bills. There must be at least 12 full consecutive calendar months of energy data for all active meters and all fuel types.

Use details: Minimum and maximum thresholds for key property use details are noted in the table below.

What are the eligibility criteria for the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score?
Property type Requirements
All buildings
  • Minimum 1 worker during the main shift, when this is asked
    • For ice/curling rinks, minimum 1 full- or part-time worker
  • Minimum gross floor area:
    • Offices: 93 m2 (1,000 sq. ft.)
    • Hospitals and K-12 schools: 100 m2 (1,096 sq. ft.)
    • Medical offices: 250 m2 (2,740 sq. ft.)
    • Supermarkets: 400 m2 (4,384 sq. ft.)
    • Senior care facilities: 550 m2 (6,028 sq. ft.)
  • Minimum 30 hours of operation per week, when this is asked
Hospitals
  • Minimum 1 licensed bed
Senior care facilities
  • Minimum 5 licensed beds
K-12 schools
  • Minimum 70% of gross floor area must be heated
  • Gymnasium must be smaller than the school’s gross floor area
Supermarkets
  • Minimum 1 computer or cash register
Ice/curling rinks
  • Maximum 5,000 spectator seats
  • Minimum 5 months of operation per year
  • Minimum 1 ice rink
    • Buildings used exclusively for curling are not eligible for a score.
  • Maximum 90% of facility covered by ice rink surface

3. ENERGY STAR Certification

1. How do I apply for ENERGY STAR Certification?

You apply for ENERGY STAR certification from within Portfolio Manger. Eligible building types will have a link to apply at the top of the screen. For step-by-step instructions, Natural Resources Canada has developed a "How-To Guide”.

ENERGY STAR certification is awarded to eligible  Opens a New Window. building types that earn an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher, indicating that it performs better than at least 75% of similar buildings nationwide.

Certification is given on an annual basis, so a building must maintain its high performance to be certified year to year. The information submitted in the certification application must also be verified by a licensed professional to be eligible for approval.

2. Is there a fee to use Portfolio Manager or apply for ENERGY STAR certification?

No. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free tool administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If you plan to pursue ENERGY STAR certification, there is no fee to apply; however, you may need to pay a licensed professional to make a site visit and certify that your application is correct before submitting it to Natural Resources Canada.

3. When does my application expire?

Your ENERGY STAR certification application is based on 12 months of energy consumption information. You have 120 days from the last day of this 12-month period to submit your application to Natural Resources Canada. Additionally, if questions sent to the applicant are not answered within 30 days, the application will expire.

4. When can I re-apply for certification?

In most cases, you are eligible to re-apply for ENERGY STAR certification 11 months after the Year Ending Date of your last approved application. For example, if you received certification for the year ending March 2016 (4/1/2015 – 3/31/2016), your next eligible Year Ending Date will be February 2017 (3/1/2016 – 2/28/2017).

Because the year on your ENERGY STAR certification is based on the date when your application is approved, regardless of your Year Ending Date, we allow some flexibility to make sure you can get consecutive certifications. If you submitted an application with a Year Ending Date between August 2016 and December 2016, AND you were awarded certification for the 2016 label year, your next eligible Year Ending Date is July 2017.

If you've already earned 2017 certification, your next eligible period will be 11 months after your previous Year Ending Date. You can submit your application anytime, but it will be put on hold until we start processing 2018 certifications in January 2018.

The process for re-certification is the same as the initial certification, and another site visit by a Licensed Professional is required.

5. Can I get certification for a property that is not 100% occupied?

Yes. You can apply for ENERGY STAR certification as long as the property maintains an average occupancy at the required level for the 12-month period of assessment.

These property types have minimum Occupancy requirements:

  • Office/ Financial Office – 50%
  • K-12 School - open 8 months/year

All other property types do not have specific Occupancy rate requirements. However, some Use Details have minimum annual values to allow a score to be generated. For example, Office properties must have Weekly Operating Hours of 30 hours or higher to receive an ENERGY STAR score.

6. Where can I find the Licensed Professional Guide?

The Licensed Professional Guide for Canadian ENERGY STAR certification can be found on our website. It provides you with everything you need to know about verifying applications for ENERGY STAR certification. It outlines the step-by-step process and is required reading if you’re verifying applications for ENERGY STAR certification.

7. How much does it cost for a Licensed Professional to review an application?

The cost for a Licensed Professional to review your ENERGY STAR application will depend on the size of your building and local costs. You will have to confirm these costs with your LP.

8. What can I exclude from my property?

The best practice is to include all of a property’s Gross Floor Area (GFA) and energy use when benchmarking. However, here are a few examples of energy that may make sense to exclude (provided it is sub-metered) from your property:

  1. Cell towers
  2. Parking garages
  3. Electric vehicle charging stations
  4. outdoor, heated pools (note: indoor pools should not be excluded)
  5. A large billboard or projection screen on a building (or in your parking lot) when the sign is not related to the use of the building. (A sign displaying the company's name or anything related to the business SHOULD be counted towards the buildings use.)

Regarding certification, any Property Use that can receive a score such as data centers, must be included. Specifically, data center energy use must be included in the total building energy use and not sub-metered and excluded. These Property Uses cannot be excluded from an application under any circumstance.

You may exclude a Property Use from a building (and for ENERGY STAR certification) if ALL of the following four conditions are met:

  • The Property Use must be less than 10% of the building’s Gross Floor Area (GFA)
  • The Property Use must not be a property type eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR score
  • The Property Use must be sub-metered so that both the Property Use’s floor area and energy consumption can be excluded
  • The Property Use’s energy use patterns must be significantly different than those of the rest of the building (ex: A cell phone tower on a building)

4. Web services

1. I am an energy service provider and clients are asking me about exchanging data with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager using web services. What is this and is it available in Canada?

Data exchange via ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager web services is a way for a utility or service provider’s database to interact directly with Portfolio Manager. This is a valuable service for your clients, as it eliminates the need for them to manually enter data into the tool. These services are available in Canada, and a number of Canadian utilities are offering them to their clients.  NRCan currently does not have a list of Canadian organizations that are providing web services on our website.

NRCan and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offer a free, flexible application programming interface that will enable you to build web services that fit your unique needs and those of your clients.

See Data exchange with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager web services for more information.

5. Other

1. Who should I contact if I have additional questions or comments?

For general inquiries related to energy benchmarking, please contact nrcan.buildings-batiments.rncan@canada.ca. For all inquiries related to ENERGY STAR certification in Canada, please contact nrcan.energystarcertificationbuildings.rncan@canada.ca.