Lighting, and computer and HVAC equipment were identified as key areas for potential energy savings in the commercial real estate industry. These energy efficient improvements, along with other items in the residential sector, could help Canada reduce its energy consumption by up to 15 per cent by 2035, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report.
The report, Doing More with Less: Energy Efficiency Potential in Canada, flags prime residential energy savers as household electronics, space heating and lighting.
According to the International Energy Agency, about two-thirds of economically feasible global energy efficiency measures have not been implemented. In Canada, electricity and natural gas utilities are largely responsible for the implementation of energy efficiency measures. The largest efficiency improvements will result from their actions, such as incentive programs to install energy efficient equipment or appliances, conducting energy audits, and performing energy efficient retrofits.
While energy efficiency improvements can help lower Canadian demand for energy, it is not a complete solution to help Canada meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals. Efficiency measures could also include more policy instruments, such as land-use measures, equipment and building performance standards, and renewable subsidies.
“While energy efficiency is associated with several benefits, energy efficient measures have not been fully adopted to the extent that it would be economically efficient to do so, in part due to market and consumers behavioural failures,” said Len Coad, research director, energy, environment and transportation policy. “As Canada transitions towards a lower carbon future, energy efficiency could contribute to our efforts to address climate change by reducing both the country’s energy intensity and growth in energy demand.”
Canada currently ranks among the most energy-intensive of OECD countries, as well as among the highest GHG emitters per dollar of GDP produced.
The National Energy Board expects that Canada’s energy demand will continue to grow at an average annual rate of 0.7 per cent, reaching 13,868 petajoules (PJ) by 2040. A range of energy efficiency improvements could result in as much as a 15 per cent reduction in energy consumption, about 5 per cent below the 2017 level for residential, commercial and industrial energy use.
From a climate change perspective, however, the contribution of energy efficiency policies will be smaller. Electricity in Canada currently comes from sources that are approximately 80 per cent renewable or very low emissions and could be near 100 per cent by 2035. The most important contribution energy efficiency gains can make is to reduce the need for hydrocarbons to provide heat.