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).
Normalization allows for a like-for-like comparison of water consumption for buildings with different reporting periods, climate, occupancy, and building systems.
The resulting water performance metrics (reported as water use intensity, “WUI”) better reflect the efficiency of the building’s water consuming systems and allows the benchmarking of building water use performance. Technical discussions regarding each normalization process and calculation will be included in the methodology (to be released in 2015).