Energy Use in the Commercial/Institutional Sector
- Energy efficiency in the commercial/institutional sector improved 23%, saving Canadians 169.3 PJ of energy and $3.8 billion in energy costs in 2015.
- Energy intensity (GJ/m2) decreased 8%.
- Energy use increased 35%. It would have increased 58% without energy efficiency improvements.
Overview - Energy use and GHG emissions
Commercial/institutional energy indicators
|Floor space||509.9 million m2||751.5 million m2|
|Auxiliary and electronic equipment||54 PJ||145 PJ|
|Employees||9 million||13 million|
|GDP||$553 billion ($2007)||$1,093 billion ($2007)|
Commercial business owners and institutions spent more than $22.4 billion on energy in 2015 to provide services to Canadians. Major activities are related to trade, finance, real estate, public administration, educational and commercial services. These activities have been grouped into 10 subsectors. Offices, retail trade and educational services accounted for about 70% of the total Canadian commercial/institutional floor space, which was estimated at 751.5 million m2 in 2015.
Energy is used in the sector for various purposes, such as space heating, cooling, lighting and water heating, as well as for operating auxiliary equipment (such as computers and medical equipment) and auxiliary motors. Space heating accounted for the largest share of energy use, about 55%, followed by auxiliary equipment at 14%. (Street lighting is included in total energy but is excluded from the factorization analysis because it is not associated with floor space activity.)
Distribution of commercial/institutional energy use by end use, 2015
|commercial/institutional energy use||Percentage|
Isolating the effect of energy efficiency
Without energy efficiency gains, energy use would have increased 58% instead of 35%.
The following illustrates the factorization result of the impact of activity, structure, weather, service level and energy efficiency on the change in commercial/institutional energy use.
Impact of activity, structure, weather, service level and energy efficiency on the change in commercial/institutional energy use, 1990–2015
|Total change in energy use||263.8|
|Service level effect*||88.1|
|Energy efficiency effect||-169.3|
** Street lighting is included in"Energy use" but is excluded from the factorization analysis.
- activity effect – A 47% increase in floor space led to a 341.1 PJ growth in energy use and a 15.3 Mt increase in GHG emissions.
- structure effect – The effect of structure changes (the mix of activity types) translated into a 4 PJ increase, which had a marginal effect on GHG emissions (0.2 Mt).
- weather effect – In 2015, the winter was similar to 1990 colder and the summer was a little hotter than in 1990. The net result was marginal on GHG emissions with an increase of about 0.8 PJ in energy demand.
- service level effect – An increase of auxiliary equipment, such as office equipment (e.g. computers, fax machines and photocopiers), led to an 88.1 PJ increase in energy use and a 3.9 Mt increase in GHG emissions.
- energy efficiency effect – The 23% improvement in energy efficiency saved 169.3 PJ of energy, $3.8 billion in energy costs and 7.6 Mt of GHG emissions.
Commercial/institutional energy use, with and without energy efficiency improvements, 1990–2015 (petajoules)
|Energy use without energy efficiency improvements||Energy use with energy efficiency improvements|
From 1990 to 2015, total commercial/institutional energy use increased 35%, from 745.6 PJ to 1,009.9 PJ, including street lighting. At the same time, GDP for the sector grew nearly 97% and floor space grew 47%. The GHG emissions associated with the sector’s energy use, including electricity-related emissions, increased about 10% over the same period.
Natural gas and electricity were the main energy sources used in this sector, accounting in 2015 for about 51% and 42% of total energy use, respectively. Electricity was the primary energy source for lighting, space cooling, and auxiliary motors and equipment. Natural gas and the remaining fuels were the primary energy sources for space and water heating. However, natural gas and propane were also used, in small proportions, to provide energy for auxiliary equipment, such as the propane for stoves and natural gas for space cooling services.
Commercial/institutional energy use by fuel type and floor space, 1990 and 2015 (petajoules)
|Light fuel oil and kerosene||62.0||32.2|
|Heavy fuel oil||11.4||3.0|
|Floor space (millions m2)||509.9||751.5|
Space heating – continued to be the primary end use in the sector, accounting for approximately 55% of the total increase in energy use. However, auxiliary equipment has had the largest increase in energy requirement (167%) resulting, in part, from the increasing computerization of all workspaces. Auxiliary equipment energy use drove 34% of the sector’s energy use increase.
Commercial/institutional energy use by end use, 2015 (petajoules)
Offices accounted for the largest share of energy use in 2015 (36%). This subsector includes public administration and activities related to finance and insurance; real estate and rental and leasing; professional, scientific and technical services; and other offices. Retail trade (16%) and educational services (13%) were the next largest users.
Commercial/institutional energy use by activity type, 1990 and 2015 (petajoules)
|Health care and social assistance||83.0||120.5|
|Accommodation and food services||54.9||75.9|
|Transportation and warehousing||45.1||38.0|
|Arts, entertainment and recreation||16.5||25.9|
|Information and cultural industries||14.2||21.2|
Several indicators help explain the growth in energy use in the commercial/institutional sector, including floor space, GDP and the number of employees.
While some gains in energy efficiency were made in terms of overall energy use per floor space, this was offset by an increase in energy requirements for auxiliary equipment. There was not only an overall increase in computerization of the work environment during this period, but also an increase in the actual number of devices required per employee.
The sector as a whole experienced an 8% decrease in energy intensity in terms of energy consumed per unit of floor space (GJ/m2). However, it reduced its energy intensity by 31% when measured against economic activity (PJ/$GDP). Health, and accommodation and food services were the most energy-intensive commercial/institutional activities. This may be attributable to the energy-demanding nature of their activities (restaurants, laundry) and services (extensive hours of operation), as well as the use of new technologies, which translates into the proliferation of the amount of electronic equipment.
- The commercial/institutional sector encompasses all services-producing industries in Canada, NAICS 41-91.