REALpac Energy & Water Benchmarking Programs

History of REALpac’s Energy & Water Benchmarking Programs

In September 2009, REALpac, in collaboration with the Canada Green Building Council ("CaGBC”) and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada ("BOMA Canada”), adopted an energy consumption target for office buildings of 20 equivalent kilowatt-hours of energy use per square foot of building area per year ("20 ekWh/ft2/year”), to be achieved by 2015.

For short, "20 by ‘15”. The "e” in ekWh, short for "equivalent”, signifies conversion of other sources of energy into kWh. It also relates to the "normalization” of building energy consumption to ensure the comparability between office buildings regardless of tenant mix or climactic zone.

After launching the "20 by ‘15” energy reduction target, REALpac again collaborated with CaGBC, BOMA Canada, and various energy experts, to develop further tools to help enable the real estate industry to understand their energy use and measure it in a meaningful way. A sub-committee was formed to look at standardizing a methodology all users could apply to determine their "equivalent” building energy use intensity metric. In April 2010, REALpac released a circulation draft of the REALpac Energy Normalization Methodology (the "Methodology") describing the approach, together with a proposed tool called the REALpac Energy Normalization Template (the "Template"). Industry leaders and various stakeholders were invited to review and comment. The revised Methodology and Template were released in July 2010 for general use, which paved the way for a Canada-wide building energy consumption survey to be performed.

In the fall of 2010, REALpac asked its members, partner organizations, and affiliates, as well as other industry stakeholders, to participate in the groundbreaking, first annual REALpac Energy Benchmarking Survey (the "Survey”) by submitting 2009 energy consumption data from office buildings.The Survey was intended to establish a baseline of building energy use in Canada and to begin to grow a database that has a foundation of accurate and robust data, collected through the use of credible and equitable assumptions and a replicable methodology. Participation in the Survey and the insights gained from the results help owners and managers understand both their building portfolio’s absolute and relative energy efficiency and performance. Comparisons can then be made between buildings within one company’s portfolio as well as externally between owned/managed buildings and competitor buildings, both in the same market and across the country. Results from the 2010 Survey were published in April 2011 in the 2010 Energy Benchmarking Report: Performance of the Canadian Office Sector and can be downloaded from within the REALpac Energy Benchmarking Reports page. 

The 2012 Energy Benchmarking Survey was conducted using the REALpac Energy Normalization Database (the "Database”).  The Database was developed in 2011 and was designed to replace the original Template and streamline the data entry process while introducing a more user-friendly and informative interface. At that time, the Database contained all data submitted to the Program to date, including that representing the 2009, 2010, and 2011 calendar years.  These three years of data were analyzed and the results were released in a report in February of 2013.

The REALpac 2012 Energy Benchmarking Report: Performance of the Canadian Office Sector includes data, analyses, and results of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 REALpac Energy Benchmarking Surveys. The 2010 Survey covers a total of 267 office buildings with data for the calendar year 2009 while the 2011 and 2012 Surveys are comprised of 352 and 355 buildings worth of data, respectively, which indicates an increased level of interest and enthusiasm for energy consumption measurement, monitoring, and benchmarking. All three years of data have been analyzed and compared to provide a detailed breakdown of the trends and patterns of building energy performance across Canada over time. The results of these analyses reveal that while many owners and building managers are taking action to reduce their energy use, there are opportunities yet to be had with respect to pushing building performance to the highest levels. Visit the REALpac Energy Benchmarking Reports page to download the 2012 Report.

In 2013 and 2014, Surveys continued to be conducted and data collection was performed for the calendar years 2012 and 2013.  In early 2015, the 2014 Energy Benchmarking Report: Performance of the Canadian Office Sector was released and includes the results of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 REALpac Energy Benchmarking Surveys. The 2012 Survey results, included in REALpac’s 2012 Report, show 371 office buildings with data for the calendar year 2011. The 2013 and 2014 Surveys have 277 and 279 buildings worth of data, respectively, which indicates a decrease in participation yet the individual building metrics and Canada-wide trends illustrate new effort and enthusiasm for energy consumption measurement, monitoring, and improved performance.  Visit the REALpac Energy Benchmarking Reports page to download the 2014 Report.

The 2015 Survey is currently open and accepting data submissions.  More detailed information regarding how to participate in the 2015 Survey can be found within the REALpac Energy Benchmarking Survey page and a link to the Database can be found within the REALpac Energy Normalization Database page.

In late 2011, REALpac, in collaboration with Halsall Associates, developed a methodology to benchmark water use performance for Canadian commercial office properties. The draft methodology for water use normalization was reviewed and presented to REALpac members in the summer of 2012.

This document lead to the launch of the Pilot Survey in August of 2012, again in collaboration with Halsall, where REALpac members were asked to participate and submit their office building water data for analysis. The methodology was refined during the Survey period based on feedback from key stakeholders and data from 83 commercial buildings totalling almost 36 million square feet of gross floor area.  The goal of the Pilot Survey, and of a water benchmarking program for office buildings, is to allow for meaningful and robust water use intensity reporting and benchmarking between buildings across the country. In REALpac’s methodology, actual water use is normalized for typical occupant density, typical occupied hours, landscape irrigation, atypical water-consuming functions, and location/climate (if the building includes a water-consuming cooling system, using the Toronto climate as the baseline).

The REALpac 2012 Water Benchmarking Pilot Report: Performance of the Canadian Office Sector includes the results of REALpac’s first Water Benchmarking Pilot Survey. The purpose of the survey was to test and refine REALpac’s water benchmarking methodology, which will ultimately be used to provide commercial office building owners and managers an opportunity to benchmark their building water consumption against peers in the industry.  Visit the REALpac Water Benchmarking Reports page to download the Pilot Report.

REALpac has been diligently working to connect the existing Energy Benchmarking Database with a Water Benchmarking Database which will allow for water use data to be collected for Canadian office buildings, as is done for energy use data.  Now, users are able to log-in to the Energy & Water Database, enter their building water use data, and see their actual and normalized water use metrics calculated.  The water portion of the tool is operational and we encourage our members to input previous years' (any year from 2009 - 2015) data in to the system.


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