If you own or manage an older
commercial building in Canada, chances are you are paying large energy bills.
*Statistics show that the commercial sector in Canada spends an astronomical
$17.6 billion per year on lighting, heating, and cooling. These same activities
are creating more than 65 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
It's easy to see that making commercial properties more energy efficient will
be good for both the planet and your bottom line.
A green renovation or retrofit of
a commercial property can be very successful if done properly. With an emphasis
on "whole building” rather than piecemeal approaches, existing buildings
can significantly lower energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while
producing financial rewards for owners.
In recent years, even historical buildings
such as the Empire State Building in New York City have been able to realize great
efficiencies in energy performance through retrofitting.
Energy efficiency retrofits to
older properties have many advantages beyond the obvious cost savings,
including higher property valuations and higher rates of occupancy.
Where to Begin
As the sole license
holder for LEED® in Canada, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is great
place to start. The LEED Canada green building rating system for Existing
Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EB:O&M) is a set of performance
standards for certifying the operations and maintenance of existing commercial or
institutional buildings, and high-rise residential buildings of all sizes – both
public and private. The intent is to promote high-performance existing
buildings that are healthy, durable, affordable, and are operated sustainably.
system helps building owners and managers measure operations, improvements and
maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational
efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts. Whole-building cleaning and
maintenance issues (including chemical use), recycling programs, exterior
maintenance programs and systems upgrades are covered in this program.
LEED certification rating systems, LEED Canada EB: O&M focuses on the
operation and maintenance phase of the building lifecycle rather than the
construction phase. Buildings may be operated and maintained for decades, and
so under this rating system they must file for recertification at least once
every five years to maintain their status.
EB: O&M addresses seven topics:
• Sustainable Sites
• Water Efficiency
• Energy & Atmosphere
• Materials & Resources
• Indoor Environmental Quality
• Innovation in Operations
• Regional Priority
The first step in finding out the
level of efficiency or inefficiency of your building portfolio is an analysis
of how well the buildings are performing. It's then helpful to compare your
properties with other similar commercial buildings within your portfolio and
across the country, to see whether your properties are above or below the
national average. Third, you must assess which retrofits or upgrades would cause
the most benefit to your building usage and how they should be done. Finally,
you'll need follow-up tracking stats to ensure that the improvements are
working as well as they can.
The Canadian adaptation of ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, available
through Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), is an important tool allowing
building managers, owners and operators in Canada to benchmark the energy
performance of their buildings against their Canadian peers. Being able to
measure, track and evaluate each property can have a significant impact on the
long term performance and efficiency of portfolios of any size.
Responsible builders, owners and
operators who are looking for the next step towards becoming truly green need
to know what’s available. CaGBC can help you find the best solution.
*Statistics from: Natural Resources Canada.