Not every organization has a lot of time and resources to invest in energy management. We’ve removed some of the guesswork by setting out the steps for improving energy efficiency in the buildings sector.
1. Make a commitment
To become more energy efficient, your organization will have to accept some changes and make a commitment to follow through. These changes will likely include:
- Using new technologies or adapting the ones you already have
- Developing new behaviours such as encouraging employees to be more energy conscious
- Making policy changes to the whole organization, such as instituting a company-wide energy-efficiency policy
Read about energy management best practices to learn about some of the changes you’ll be making.
2. Assess your performance
Knowledge is power. Your metered energy data will give you the information you need to make informed decisions about your building's energy use.
- Begin by analyzing your utility bills. This will help you understand the precise costs related to your energy consumption and demand.
- Consider benchmarking your building’s energy consumption by creating an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account. Ask your utility or energy service provider to exchange data directly with Portfolio Manager. This enters your energy use information directly into the system, making it effortless to collect data.
- Next, hire a firm to perform an energy audit. This will give you a more detailed picture of how your building uses energy – and a starting point to compare your progress over time.
- Join the energy benchmarking movement today!
- Energy management best practices: ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
3. Set goals
Setting goals to improve the energy performance of your building is key to establishing and maintaining momentum on your energy management activities. Your initiative will be more effective if it is based on clear, realistic goals and targets.
Use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Target Finder calculator as a tool for setting goals.
4. Create an action plan
You are much more likely to achieve your goals if you develop a solid plan that includes:
- Ongoing energy monitoring and benchmarking
- An employee and building occupant awareness program to motivate the people who use and control the energy in your building
- A plan for systematic training for employees
- Details on how your proposed changes will be financed, such as whether low-cost/no-cost initiatives will fund more expensive projects later or upfront capital will be needed
The following are some easy, no-cost ways to reduce the energy consumption of your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment:
- Reduce occupancy start and stop times where possible, including weekends.
- Reduce the heating temperature set point.
Pay special attention to building maintenance as part of your plan. Poor maintenance can lead to major energy inefficiencies when equipment is damaged or wears out prematurely.
A matrix can help
Consider using an energy-management matrix. It can help you analyze and understand your current situation, set future priorities and assess your progress along the way.
Download the United States Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR Facility Energy Management Assessment Matrix [PDF – 179KB].
5. Enact your plan
Once your plan is in place, it's time to take action. Make sure that everyone in your organization has access to the knowledge and training they need to make your plan a success. Below are some specific actions you can take:
- Develop an energy-management checklist for your building.
- Implement energy-management best practices programs.
- Monitor and evaluate daily use of equipment and facilities.
- Keep up to date on changing energy-management trends.
- Subscribe to our monthly building sector energy efficiency newsletter Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency.
6. Track your progress
Tracking your progress includes:
- Benchmarking your energy and water consumption using Canada’s national benchmarking tool, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
- Assessing savings that arise from behaviour changes
- Confirming that your new equipment retrofits and the adjustments you’ve made to your energy-management controls are leading to actual savings
- Reporting to senior management on the progress you’re making on your goals
Energy use monitoring is the first step toward effective energy management. It will empower you to make informed decisions that will help you reach your energy savings targets. For more information, see our Energy management resources for buildings pages.
7. Evaluate and adjust
Effectively managing the energy in your building requires a commitment to a cycle of continuous improvement. Below are some actions you can take:
- Use your energy benchmarking data to compare your performance with your goals. Use this information to review your plan and change it if you need to.
- Get feedback from your staff to identify their best practices – and measures they’ve taken that have not been effective.
- As you meet your goals, set new ones that challenge you to become even more energy efficient.
There may be many simple fixes – such as recalibrating poorly set timers – that have gone unnoticed for years on end and are wasting energy. Don’t let your building suffer from these oversights.
8. Celebrate your success
Be proud of yourself when you achieve your targets, and share your results with your employees, investors and other stakeholders.
Acknowledge and reward those whose contributions have helped you achieve your goals.
Consider applying for green building certification or other official recognition so that your success can inspire others.
Does your building have an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher? Apply for ENERGY STAR certification.
More tools for learning about energy-management best practices
- Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Management Best Practices infographic (2016)
- Energy Management in Commercial Buildings - The Value of Best Practices, Conference Board of Canada (2012)
- ISO 50001 - Energy management, International Standards Association (2011)
- Energy management: A comprehensive guide to controlling energy use, Carbon Trust (2011)
- The Environmentally Responsible Construction and Renovation Handbook, Public Works and Government Services Canada
Tools and information about green building design and awards
- Energy efficiency awareness guide: Implementing an Energy Efficiency Awareness Program
- Canada Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification Process
- Building Owners and Managers Association National Awards Program
- Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine Awards
- Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Honours & Awards
- Case studies