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Frequently Asked Questions

Energy Efficient Buildings

What is ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a web-based benchmarking tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that allows you to benchmark the energy performance of your buildings. It has been adapted for use by Canadian users and includes, Canadian weather data, postal codes, metric units and other data specific to Canada. It is a valuable management tool that is used to compare, measure and track energy use over time, and calculate valuable metrics that can help identify under-performing buildings and set investment priorities.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager has been widely adopted across Canada because the tool:

  • Is free to use
  • Stores data securely
  • Is accessible from any web browser
  • Has free training and online support
  • Promotes recognition through ENERGY STAR certification
  • Compares your ENERGY STAR score to national sample of similar buildings
  • Can benchmark energy, water, and waste & materials use
  • Offers data exchange services through utilities (BC Hydro and FortisBC)

Understand the ENERGY STAR score: The 1-100 ENERGY STAR score is an easy way to compare your building’s energy performance to similar buildings across Canada. A score of 75 means your building performs better than 75% of buildings, while a score of 50 represents median energy performance. This is based solely on energy performance, not water and waste & materials. Benchmarking is a best practice for all buildings, but not all building types are eligible for an ENERGY STAR score at this time. See the Natural Resources Canada website for a list of eligible buildings types.

Data Exchange Services: Benchmarking your building is made easy with the data exchange services integrated with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. This web service is a way for utilities to interact directly with Portfolio Manager’s database, eliminating the need to manually enter consumption data into the application. In BC you can connect buildings in your portfolio to both BC Hydro and FortisBC (natural gas) to have your utility data automatically uploaded. See the following pages for more information on connecting to your utilities in Portfolio Manager.

For more Information on ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, visit the ENERGY STAR website.

What is a Utility Account Manager and how do I find mine?

A utility account manager (FortisBC) or key account manager (BC Hydro) assists commercial and business customers with their energy needs. They are able to answer any questions about utility services, rates, energy efficiency, and incentive programs.

Many of the commercial incentive programs require contacting your utility account manager or key account manager to get started.

For FortisBC commercial customers, visit their website where you can find your key account manager according to your industry.

For BC Hydro business customers, find your key account manager by calling BC Hydro business Account Services at 1-866-266-6366.

How do I apply for ENERGY STAR® certification?

Certain building types can achieve ENERGY STAR® certification. ENERGY STAR certified commercial and institutional buildings have a high level of energy performance and meet strict standards set by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). To qualify, you must do the following:

  1. Benchmark your data – Use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark your building with at least 12 consecutive months of metered energy data.
  2. Run a data quality check – Make sure your data is accurate by running a data quality check in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
  3. Score higher than 75 – Your building needs to earn a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score of at least 75 and meet certain other criteria.
  4. Verify your application – Have a licensed professional confirm that the information provided in the application is accurate before it is submitted to NRCan.

For more information, visit NRCan’s guide on applying for ENERGY STAR certification in Canada.

What is energy benchmarking?

In order to manage your energy consumption, you must first understand it. Energy benchmarking is the ongoing review of your building’s energy consumption, which provides the data to encourage building operators to strive for continuous improvement and reductions in the use of energy. By engaging in ongoing energy benchmarking, you can:

  • Identify poorly performing buildings
  • Establish a baseline for measuring improvement in energy consumption
  • Enhance and create competition through comparison with similar buildings
  • Earn a rating or gain recognition for having a high-performance building
  • Make a business case for efficiency investments
  • Track how current projects are expected to save energy, money, etc.
  • See how a certain building compares to a portfolio or peer group.
  • Assess a building’s performance before you buy/lease it
  • Present building performance to a potential buyer or lender
  • Set targets for improved performance
  • Facilitate assessment of property value and marketing rental properties

The ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool helps you measure and track the energy and water use of your buildings, all in a secure online environment. You can use the results to compare your building with other similar Canadian buildings, identify under-performing buildings, set investment priorities, verify efficiency improvements, and receive recognition for being a high-performance building. Visit ENERGY STAR® to get started with energy benchmarking.

Check out our ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager FAQ for more information.

Learn more with the Natural Resources Canada Energy Benchmarking Primer.

What are the benefits of energy efficient buildings?

Canada’s commercial building sector is a significant energy user and producer of carbon emissions. It includes a range of building types, including offices, hospitals, schools, and more. Buildings retrofitted to higher energy-efficiency standards provide multiple benefits to those who own and occupy them, including:

  • Long-term energy and cost savings: an energy efficient building will have the advantage of lower energy, water, and maintenance costs.
  • Lower emissions and overall environmental impact: energy efficient buildings have lower greenhouse gas emissions due to their reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Buildings that use primarily clean energy such as hydroelectricity have the lowest emissions.
  • Better thermal comfort: well-designed mechanical systems and building components work together to manage comfortable indoor temperatures.
  • Improved comfort and health: continuous ventilation and fresh air throughout the building can lead to better well-being with occupants and as a result, a more productive workforce.
  • Higher Value: businesses and consumers see the value in energy efficient buildings, and as a result there is a premium associated with buying or leasing space in well-built, energy efficient buildings.

Check out our resources for commercial buildings for more information.

See FortisBC’s Energy-Saving Tips for Business.