Edmonton low carbon future

Edmonton leads transition to low carbon future

The city moves ahead with its building energy benchmarking program
Thursday, August 24, 2017
by Lisa Dockman

Commercial and residential buildings account for 42 per cent of the energy consumed and 40 per cent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Edmonton. As a result, energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions in commercial buildings is a critical component of Edmonton’s transition to a low carbon, sustainable energy future.

The Federal Government’s 2016 Pan Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change outlines strategies for achieving emissions reduction targets and economic benefits. It clearly signals the intention that energy reporting and disclosure for both commercial and residential buildings will be regulated nationwide as early as 2019.

Building energy benchmarking programs are a common approach that has lead to improved building energy efficiency and reduced GHG emissions in more than 20 North American cities. These programs provide building owners and managers with a measure of their building’s performance and allow for comparisons with other buildings. This informs changes to building operations and can facilitate energy retrofits resulting in energy savings. Energy benchmarking programs provide annual, accurate building data allowing for a tailored approach to energy efficiency – further supporting climate targets and stimulating market transformation.

There is a well-established body of research supporting the economic benefits of benchmarking and subsequent energy retrofits. Investments in energy efficiency have been shown to lead to an increase in rental fees and that energy efficient buildings attract higher rental fees than less efficient buildings. Evidence is also growing that the competitive advantages of green buildings translate into higher overall value in the marketplace and higher sales prices.

City of Edmonton launches Building Energy Benchmarking Program

Edmonton’s Building Energy Benchmarking program uses utility consumption data provided by building owners and property managers to generate and share energy performance metrics with participants. Annual energy consumption information is collected from large buildings including commercial, light industrial, municipal, institutional, mixed-use, and multi-unit residential buildings (typically targeting those greater than 20,000 square feet) and the information is used to benchmark building energy performance across Edmonton’s large building stock. It also informs energy efficiency improvements in buildings through an information-action feedback loop with program participants. The long-term goal is to have all large buildings in Edmonton participate annually.

Building owners and operators can realize environmental, social and economic benefits by participating in Edmonton’s Building Energy Benchmarking program. In the short term, benefits can include:

  • Competitive advantage in the market achieved through leadership recognition that boosts reputation;
  • Potential to influence the direction of future provincial and federal regulation of energy use in buildings;
  • Access to the City of Edmonton’s tenant education workshops (resources and toolkits) and benchmarking support services;
  • Eligibility for partial funding for a comprehensive building energy audit;
  • Recognition as a leader through the City’s recognition program.

In the long term, program participants will:

  • Help improve energy efficiency and reduce city greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Be eligible to receive an energy label that communicates the energy performance of your building;
  • Increased property value and tenant satisfaction and reduce operating costs;
  • Contribute to municipal, provincial and federals climate targets.

Sustainability can’t be achieved by any one organization or community alone. It’s only when everyone works together and does their part that the big changes will happen. This program can inspire thousands of changes in buildings across the city – from how buildings are built to how they are maintained and operated.

Edmonton’s Building Energy Benchmarking program is a critical element of city’s strategic objective to reduce energy use in buildings. The program is aligned with energy-related strategic planning initiatives at all levels of government and is especially impactful in Alberta where electricity is primarily generated by burning carbon-intensive fossil fuels and where energy efficiency leads to significant greenhouse gas reductions.

Participate in Edmonton’s Building Energy Benchmarking Program

Edmonton is the first Canadian municipality to host a building energy benchmarking initiative. As part of its own leadership in GHG emissions reductions, the City of Edmonton is committing to have 20 city-owned buildings, including city hall, participate in the pilot program in the first year.

Edmonton large building owners and property managers are invited to sign up to participate in this voluntary pilot by reporting their energy usage for 2016 to the City of Edmonton using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Participants will benefit from technical support, customized building benchmarking reports, tenant education workshops and financial incentives of up to $1,500/building to offset commercial energy auditing costs. Year one participants are asked to register by September 15, 2017 and will be expected to comply to a data sharing deadline of September 29, 2017.


Lisa Dockman is senior environmental project manager at the City of Edmonton. Visit edmonton.ca/energybenchmarking for more information. Contact: energystar@edmonton.ca or 1-855-999-8012.




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