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Improving Energy Performance in Canada – Report to Parliament Under the Energy Efficiency Act For the Fiscal Year 2005-2006

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Chapter 4: Buildings

Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The commercial/institutional sector includes activity related to trade, finance, real estate, public administration, education, and commercial services, including tourism. This sector uses energy mainly for space and water heating, space cooling, lighting, motive power for services such as pumping and ventilation in buildings, and street lighting.

In 2004, the total commercial/institutional sector accounted for 13.7 percent (1171 petajoules) of secondary energy use and 13.4 percent (67.9 megatonnes) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

To highlight energy use in commercial/institutional activities, the following analysis excludes energy use for street lighting. The commercial/institutional sector comprises many activity types (see Figure 4-1). Offices account for one third of commercial/institutional sector energy demand. Educational services, health care and social assistance, retail trade, and accommodation and food services account for another 49 percent of that demand. Natural Resources Canada's (NRCan's) initiatives address all of these major energy-using activity types.

Energy is used for six purposes in commercial/institutional activities. The largest of these is space heating, which accounts for more than half of energy use in this sector (see Figure 4-2). Each of the remaining five uses of energy accounts for between 6 and 14 percent of energy demand in this sector.

Between 1990 and 2004, commercial/institutional energy use, excluding street lighting, increased by 35.6 percent, or 305 petajoules (from 858 to 1163 petajoules). However, GHG emissions from the sector rose by 42.0 percent in the same period. Emissions increased more quickly than energy use due to the increased use of energy sources with a higher GHG content.

Commercial/Institutional Energy Use by Activity Type, 2004.

Commercial/Institutional Energy Use by Purpose, 2004.

During 1990–2004, a steady increase in activity largely contributed to increased energy use. To a lesser degree, the service level for auxiliary equipment, structure (the mix of building types) and weather also each played a role. However, energy efficiency slowed this rate of increase. Specifically, the energy use changes attributed to each of these factors are

  • activity – a 24.4 percent increase in floor space resulted in a 219-petajoule increase in energy use.
  • weather – the difference in temperature in 2004 compared to 1990 resulted in a 1.3 percent increase in energy use (11 petajoules).
  • structure – a shift in activity resulted in a 0.4 percent increase in energy use (3 petajoules).
  • service level – a higher service level for end-users resulted in an 8.8 percent increase in energy use (75 petajoules).
  • energy efficiency – a 0.4 percent improvement in energy efficiency resulted in a decrease of 3 petajoules. See the text box, "Possible Underestimation of the Energy Efficiency Effect," for additional explanation.

The change in energy use during 1990–2004, as well as the estimated energy savings due to energy efficiency, is shown in Figure 4-3.

Commercial/Institutional Energy Use, Actual and Without Energy Efficiency Improvements, 1990 to 2004.

Possible Underestimation of the Energy Efficiency Effect

Between 1999 and 2004, energy use in the commercial/institutional sector increased by 20 percent, whereas floor space (activity driver) increased much more slowly, about 8 percent. This rapid growth in energy use since 1999, mostly due to heavy fuel oil (188 percent rise), light fuel oil and kerosene (95 percent rise), has led to sharp decreases in the energy efficiency effect since 1999. Statistics Canada has been unable to ascertain the reason (or reasons) for these spikes in petroleum use, particularly heavy fuel oil. Some of the change may be due to legitimate fuel switching away from natural gas, which sharply increased in price in 2000, to light fuel oil. However, there is some evidence that fuel marketers (included in the commercial/institutional sector) are buying petroleum products from refineries and then re-selling the fuel to other sectors (e.g. industrial, transportation). As a result, some heavy fuel oil, light fuel oil and kerosene may be erroneously attributed to the commercial/institutional sector. There is inadequate information to determine and to improve the quality of the reported commercial/institutional data at this time.

NRCan delivers initiatives to increase energy efficiency in the following sub-sectors of the commercial/institutional sector:

  • new buildings
  • existing buildings
  • equipment (refer also to Chapter 2)
  • communities

New Buildings: Commercial Building Incentive Program

Objective: To improve the energy efficiency of new commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential buildings.

The Commercial Building Incentive Program (CBIP) provides financial incentives to builders and developers who incorporate energy-efficient features into the design and construction of new commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential buildings. To qualify for the incentive, buildings must be at least 25 percent more energy efficient than similar buildings constructed to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB). However, results indicate that CBIP buildings are on average 36 percent better than similar buildings constructed to the MNECB. The program is delivered by the Government of Canada and co-marketed by a number of provincial/territorial utilities, provincial/territorial energy efficiency and climate change agencies, and building professional organizations.

Energy Use in Commercial Buildings, 2005.

Estimated Average Energy Savings by Type of Institution Under the Commercial Building Incentive Program, 2005.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • Incentives were given to 207 projects, representing 4.1 percent of building starts and 15 percent of construction floor space in 2005–2006.
  • CBIP cooperated with 22 organizations during 2005–2006, launching new collaborative ventures with the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation and the Canadian Urban Institute.
  • Over 900 new users registered to use CBIP's simulation software in 2005–2006, bringing the total number of users to over 5000.

For more information:

New Buildings: Industrial Building Incentive Program

Objective: To improve the energy efficiency of new industrial buildings.

The Industrial Building Incentive Program (IBIP), a demonstration program, extends the precepts of CBIP to the industrial sector. IBIP offers an incentive to companies building new energy-efficient industrial facilities to offset the additional costs involved in initial attempts to produce energy-efficient designs and achieve building/process integration. The design is assessed against a reference generated from the MNECB.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • Six contribution agreements were signed, bringing to 26 the number of projects supported since the launch of the program in 2002.
  • Five case studies were prepared, a new IBIP Web site was completed, and a new technical guide was issued.

For more information:

New Buildings: Green Buildings Program

Objective: To reduce energy use, resource consumption and emissions from commercial buildings through design, construction and retrofitting while increasing cost-effectiveness.

The program plays a significant role in establishing goals for energy efficiency and sustainability in commercial buildings through a variety of key activities. Through its C-2000 Program for Advanced Commercial Buildings – which was a small demonstration program for high-performance buildings – CANMET Energy Technology Centre (CETC) worked with industry to demonstrate buildings that reduce energy consumption by 50 percent and water consumption by 40 percent. The program continues to provide the necessary tools, guidelines and techniques through its integrated design process, helping industry and associations to develop optimized, energy-efficient green buildings and green building programs.

The program also develops guidelines, provides technical support and develops downloadable simulation software tools to support other NRCan programs such as CBIP.

NRCan launched the Green Building Challenge (GBC) in 1996 (now managed by a third party) and organized "Sustainable Building" conferences to showcase the results and best practices of the competing energy-efficient buildings. GBC brings together more than 20 countries focused on the development and testing of an internationally accepted system for assessing the environmental performance of buildings. The NRCandeveloped electronic GBToolTM is used in the assessments.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • NRCan experts continue to provide technical support to the new 600 000-square-foot downtown Winnipeg office for Manitoba Hydro. The $188-million project, due for completion in 2007, is the largest and final participant in the C-2000 Program for Advanced Commercial Buildings. Designed by the C-2000 Integrated Design Process, it focuses on providing the healthiest office space, world-class energy efficiency, and signature architecture and urban design, while staying within market-based costs.
  • NRCan successfully proposed to the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes that the MNECB 1997 be updated. NRCan was tasked by the commission to lead a feasibility study for the code update. To this end, NRCan created a national consortium of provincial and federal organizations that are either actively involved in or initiating the development of energy efficiency measures for regulatory and program purposes.
  • NRCan spearheaded research to develop a revolutionary façade system that integrates photovoltaic panels. This Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics system was used in the new Public Works and Government Services Canada Greystone office building in Yellowknife, providing 33.5 kilowatts of electricity to this 70 000-square-foot building that opened in October 2005.

For more information:

GBTool is a Trademark of Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada as represented by the Minister of Natural Resources.

Existing Buildings: EnerGuide for Existing Buildings

Objective: To encourage commercial businesses and public institutions to become more energy efficient and reduce GHG emissions that contribute to climate change.

EnerGuide for Existing Buildings (EEB), formerly the Energy Innovators Initiative, helps commercial organizations and public institutions explore energy efficiency options and strategies, offering them access to tools and financial assistance to help reduce energy costs and improve competitiveness. Members join EEB by sending a letter to the Minister of Natural Resources from senior management stating their commitment to energy efficiency. Currently, over 2800 commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential organizations across Canada are members.

After joining EEB, members can apply for Energy Retrofit Assistance funding for retrofit planning activities and retrofit implementation projects in existing commercial/institutional buildings.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • Recruited more than 500 organizations as members, an increase of about 2 percent of floor space in targeted sectors.
  • Twenty-one partnerships were established through contribution agreements with member-based associations and stakeholders.
  • EEB funded 140 energy retrofit implementation projects (see Table 4-1) and more than 215 retrofit planning activities in commercial businesses, public institutions and multi-unit residential buildings.


EnerGuide for Existing Buildings – Incentive Retrofit Projects, 1998 to 2005
Fiscal year Number of retrofit projects signed Energy cost savings (millions of dollars) Eligible client investment (millions of dollars) Federal incentive (millions of dollars)

1998 12 $5.70 $54.70 $2.60
1999 35 $16.80 $137.70 $5.50
2000 4 $5.40 $8.70 $0.60
2001 30 $10.60 $58.20 $3.74
2002 59 $19.40 $139.60 $8.40
2003 70 $20.90 $132.60 $8.80
2004 169 $36.70 $220.00 $16.90
2005 140 $23.00 $138.48 $12.06
Total 519 $138.50 $889.98 $58.66

For more information:

Equipment: Refrigeration Action Program for Buildings

Objective: To support the development and the adoption of innovative refrigeration technologies that reduce energy consumption, synthetic refrigerant use and GHG emissions in commercial and institutional buildings.

The Refrigeration Action Program for Buildings (RAPB) was launched in 2003. It focuses on the deployment of innovative refrigeration technologies integrated with a building's heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in order to drastically reduce refrigerant losses, recover and upgrade the heat rejected by the refrigeration system, and adapt the system operation to the Canadian climate. To meet its objective, the RAPB performs capacity-building, demonstration, information and training activities in partnership with key stakeholders, for Canadian supermarkets, ice rinks and curling rinks. The RAPB also undertakes research and development activities on refrigeration technological solutions.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • Launched and is successfully operating a demonstration project involving innovative integrated HVAC and refrigeration technologies at an existing Loblaws supermarket in Ottawa, Ontario. CETC–Varennes provided technical support for the design and installation phases of the project and is carrying out performance analysis of the system.
  • Invited to sit on the Vancouver Olympic Committee to provide expertise for the design of sustainable refrigerated facilities for the Olympics (e.g. ice and curling rinks).
  • As part of the deployment program, partnerships with provincial governments and utilities have been established with British Columbia and Manitoba, in addition to the existing partnership in Quebec. More than 15 training sessions and workshops were held across Canada to create awareness of and build capacity for innovative refrigeration technologies and practices.

For more information:

Equipment: Buildings Program – Intelligent Buildings

Objective: To develop and promote the adoption of intelligent building technologies and innovative building operation practices that reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions.

The program focuses on intelligent building technologies and practices, such as recommissioning, that reduce a building's energy consumption while ensuring the occupants' comfort and preserving indoor air quality. To meet its objectives, the program develops, demonstrates and deploys, in partnership with key stakeholders, intelligent buildings technologies in Canadian commercial/institutional buildings.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • Launched demonstration projects of the Continuous Building Optimization approach at several demonstration sites across Canada.
  • Training workshop on Continuous Building Optimization performed in Manitoba, in collaboration with Manitoba Hydro.
  • Continuous Building Optimization approach and benefits presented to major city representatives, provincial energy managers and to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP-11) delegations.

For more information:

Equipment: Building Energy Simulation Program

Objective: To contribute to the improvement of design, performance, cost-effectiveness, integration and deployment of energy-efficient building technologies and techniques through simulation modelling and applications-driven implementation tools for the market.

Through this program, CETC develops, distributes and supports building simulation software for the Canadian housing and building industry. These software tools are used by architects and engineers to optimize the energy performance of individual technologies and whole-building designs as well as to demonstrate compliance with such programs as the R-2000 Standard, EnerGuide for Houses and (New) Houses, CBIP, the Model National Energy Code for Buildings and the Model National Energy Code for Houses. CETC is involved in all aspects of the software development process, from design and programming to distribution, maintenance, and user training and support.

CETC developed the next generation of residential energy analysis software, HOT3000TM. This is a more advanced version of HOT2000TM, with a more comprehensive and expandable simulation engine (based on the ESP-r program). HOT3000 is capable of expanding to meet the complexities of the energy-saving technologies and strategies entering the market and emerging in industry research and development. The ESP-r program was created by the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and modified by CETC to meet Canadian simulation needs. The University of Strathclyde remains a collaborator on several simulation software development projects.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • The capacity to model multi-unit residential buildings was added to NRCan's HOT2000 residential energy analysis software.
  • CETC continued to play a leading role in developing and validating methods for modelling cogeneration systems by chairing a research annex for the International Energy Agency. The work includes developing models for fuel cells, Stirling Engines, and internal combustion engines within a whole-building simulation program and thus making significant advances in the analysis and study of distributed generation systems for buildings.
  • Using CETC software, 200 000 houses and over 500 commercial buildings have been simulated for improved energy efficiency to date.

For more information:

HOT2000 is an official mark of Natural Resources Canada.

HOT3000 is a Trademark of Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada as represented by the Minister of Natural Resources.

Equipment: Distributed Energy Program

The science and technology direction under this program is to support activities that will lay the foundation for increased use of decentralized energy systems, including electric storage by 2025. These systems will increase the reliability of, and reduce air emissions including GHGs from, Canada's electric power system at an acceptable economic cost to Canadians.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • In a joint program with Environment Canada and the cities of Calgary and Kelowna, CETC designed and constructed a trailer that extracted and cleaned landfill gas and produced utility power using a 30-kilowatt micro-turbine. After 5000 hours of operation on the Calgary landfill site, the trailer was moved to Kelowna, where it has been upgraded by Kelowna to a 3-turbine system.
  • In association with Enbridge Gas Distribution and CETC–Varennes, code changes were made to facilitate development of small on-site power plants that served a dual role as providers of both on-site heat and power, and emergency power service.
  • A joint program was initiated with the National Research Council and Canadian companies to evaluate and test new electric storage systems and develop new routes to market for these technologies.

For more information:

Equipment: Integrated Energy Systems Laboratory

Objective: To develop advanced concepts and technologies for energy-efficient and low-polluting gas- and oil-fired heating systems for residential and commercial applications.

An area of concentration is integrated systems, where multiple functions are served by one energy source. Significant effort is being expended on ultra-high-efficiency present-and next-generation (eKOCOMFORTTM-type) systems combining space heating, water heating and ventilation. The laboratory can determine the performance of up to six prototype integrated systems. One such unit under development is a high-efficiency condensing fireplace. Another is a highly modulating integrated space-water-ventilating system with advanced learning-based controls.

The laboratory works closely with equipment manufacturers, energy suppliers, end-users, policy and program developers and standards organizations in ensuring rapid development and implementation of the most suitable energy-efficient equipment for the Canadian market.

The laboratory also works on next-generation integrated systems with self-generated electricity using advanced, non-conventional technologies. Prototype thermophotovoltaic and thermoelectric cascaded systems are under development. Here, electricity is generated with no moving parts and the heat is recovered for space/water applications. Gas lighting, whereby light is generated by a highly luminous flame and then transported to applications through light pipes, while the heat is recovered for space/water applications, offers tenfold GHG reductions. Alternative fuels, such as alcohol, bio-fuel and hydrogen are being examined for high-efficiency combustion applications for buildings.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • Characterized and developed performance criteria for next generation tankless water heaters with 25 percent energy savings compared to conventional gas-fired water heaters. Worked closely with gas utilities to define criteria for incentive programs for the installation of high-efficiency combustion equipment in residential and commercial applications.
  • Optimized fan coil control and monitored performance for high efficiency and homeowner satisfaction as an essential component of the Drake Landing Solar Community project.
  • Characterized the high potential for energy efficiency gains exceeding 25 percent with most commercial combustion equipment (rooftops, unit heaters and boilers) with design and operational advances.

For more information:

Communities: Communities and Neighbourhoods Program

Objective: To develop and demonstrate practical decision-making tools, processes and best practices that help communities and developers select more efficient energy, waste and water technologies and design solutions that support each community's journey towards a sustainable energy future.

Communities impact about 50 percent of energy consumption in Canada. Within communities, buildings consume 63 percent of all natural gas (including 9 percent used for electricity) and 53 percent of all electricity, which also means that they account for roughly 53 percent of the coal burned for electricity production. The program examines how communities can function as an integrated energy-consuming whole while contributing to municipalities' broader goals of encouraging more sustainable development. The goal is to contribute to sustainable development initiatives by stakeholder groups by supporting the development and use of practical decision-making tools, processes and best practices that will help communities and developers select appropriate energy-efficient technologies and design solutions and help guide each community's journey towards a sustainable energy future.

The Communities and Neighbourhoods Program works with provincial governments, municipal stakeholders, other government departments and private sector developers to facilitate the adoption of sustainable community development principles and community energy systems. Opportunities to effect change arise through innovative projects that are geared to the Canadian context and are launched in the following areas: combined heat and power technologies; district energy generation systems (including integration of renewables); computational and other tools that consider energy consumption within and emissions from the community from a system's perspective; processes that guide the creation of community strategies based upon energy efficiency and the reduction of GHGs; methods that assist decision-makers to differentiate between urban development alternatives on the basis of their environmental impact on the community; and community energy standards that support policies, codes and technical standards for energy-efficient development practices.

Key 2005-2006 Achievements

  • A number of large-scale district energy systems are under construction or at the design stage across Canada. A range of technologies are being demonstrated to reduce energy consumption, including gas-fired combined heat and power, ground-source heat pumps, and lake-cooling and solar thermal applications.
  • NRCan's Community Energy Planning Guide was released in May 2005 and has prompted a number of municipalities to develop municipal energy plans.
  • A model Sustainable Urban Planning process developed in consultation with municipal and developer stakeholders will be applied in a pilot large-scale, sustainable urban development in Edmonton, Alberta.

For more information: