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Julie West will be presenting at the Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC) Annual Conference this fall. Come learn about decarbonization options for UBC’s District Energy System!

EGBC Annual Conference – Getting to Zero: Decarbonization Options for UBC’s District Energy System



Mandatory Energy Benchmarking is coming to Toronto and Vancouver should follow suit.

 October 25, 2016

The City of Toronto is collaborating with the Province of Ontario to develop a framework for Mandatory Energy Reporting and Benchmarking of all affected buildings within the Province. The primary objective of the program is to support the Province and City’s Energy Conservation policies, Climate Action Plan, and ultimately achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets. The hope is that this reporting will help owners better gauge their building’s energy use, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately measure energy performance over time.

The exact details of implementation have not been fully developed, however, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Toronto (BOMA) completed a report in February 2016 providing the broad strokes to what such a policy would look like. Within their recommendations, they have targeted office buildings and multi-unit residential buildings greater than 50,000 sq.ft first, with more complex retail and industrial buildings to be targeted at a later date. The idea is that underperforming buildings, or energy hogs, will undergo a mandatory energy audit, and top performers will be publically recognized for their energy achievements. Currently, BOMA suggests against any compulsory follow up on the findings from the mandatory audits. The idea is that owners can take initiative on their own accord for measures with attractive financial benefits to their bottom line.

This strategy is certainly a welcome step in the right direction for a Province and City serious about achieving its energy conservation targets. There is a saying in the energy management industry that you cannot manage what you don’t measure. This level of detail on energy data will help the Province, City, and utility companies inform the design of demand side management policies, and focus incentive programs on the best “bang for buck” approach (i.e. the largest consumers are likely to have the best opportunities for energy conservation). A secondary benefit is that publically available data could also help motivate market transformation and drive energy conservation initiatives. Perhaps more importantly, however, is that the mandatory reporting will eventually enable proper measurement and verification of the efficacy of new programs and initiatives. We often see decisions implemented that are based solely on theoretical models alone, without any means to substantiate the results of the decisions made.

While this type of program is unique within Canada, it is not new to cities in North America; similar programs have been implemented in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle to name a few. Vancouver should pay close attention to the steps Toronto and Ontario are taking, or it could have a close match come 2020 for its goal of Greenest City in the World. In fact, energy reporting and benchmarking isn’t mentioned anywhere in Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan, which is surprising given its ambitious green building goals of 100% carbon neutral new construction and a 20% energy reduction of existing building stock by 2020.

2020 is just around the corner and so it seems Vancouver had better get cracking. Alternatively we can choose to wait and see what comes of Toronto’s program. If nothing else, Toronto can be Canada’s energy reporting guru and lay the foundation on which other large Canadian cities can build. Thank you, City of Toronto.


City of Toronto – EBR

BOMA – Mandatory Energy & Benchmarking Report

DOE – What is Energy Benchmarking



Changes Coming to Vancouver’s Energy Efficiency Standard

August 9, 2016

On July 5th the City of Vancouver released a policy report outlining its Zero Emissions Building Plan. The purpose of the plan is to have the majority of new buildings emit zero GHG emissions by 2025, and achieve zero emissions for all new buildings by 2030.

The plans provides hard caps for GHG Intensity (GHGI) and Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI) for new buildings in Vancouver. The new targets are presented in the tables below and will be implemented in the City’s Rezoning policy for Green Buildings and the VBBL update in 2016/2017, 2020, 2025, and 2030. The requirements and limits established in the Rezoning Policy are set to become Building Bylaw requirements 4-5 years later.

Because the TEDI target is defined as heat output by all mechanical equipment, it is really a representation of building heating load and does not necessarily take credit for mechanical equipment efficiencies.   This means substantial improvements to building envelope and ventilation systems will be required for new buildings to meet this thermal energy target. The idea is that the added expense of improved building envelopes and ventilation systems will be offset by the reduced construction costs of not forcing developers to install hydronic heating.  Reading between the lines, the City is guiding MURBs to electric reheat options (whether through low carbon heat pumps or electric baseboards) in order to meet the GHG intensity target.

The risk is that if the improvements in envelope and ventilation efficiency are not realized, this could come at substantial cost to building occupants, and is arguably not the best use of high-grade electric energy. Fortis BC has expressed their concern on the plan over prices and disregard for their biogas (RNG) initiatives.

p3 energy’s main concern with the strategy is that there is very little planning on reporting or feedback of actual, metered building performance to determine whether the thermal targets are actually being met. Without the reduction in building heating load, this is simply a fuel switch from pragmatic natural gas to electric reheat. The plan does, however, give a thermal allowance for buildings connected to a Neighbourhood Renewable Energy System.

The 2016 Bylaw Updates for low rise and rezoning will be implemented this fall. All buildings applying for rezoning will also now be required to have air barrier testing, building energy system commissioning, and a means to benchmarking energy consumption data.

Compliance with these targets will be met via energy modelling. Projects will need to submit information and energy model results during the building permit application process. Successful air tightness testing results will also need to be provided to the City prior to building occupancy permit.



Low Rise Murbs (4-6 Storeys)

Low Rise

High Rise Murbs

High Rise