Canadian Consulting Engineer

Ontario’s energy benchmarking causing concerns among big building owners

March 15, 2016

Proposals could increase demand for energy retrofits for a range of different building types.

The Ontario Ministry of Energy has posted details about its proposals to require private owners of large buildings — 50,000 sq.ft. and over — to collect and submit data every year on their building’s energy and water usage.

The proposed “Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking” regulation is open for public comment until April 10. The final regulation expected to be set out by the end of this year under the Green Energy Act. The Ministry is proposing the regulations as a way of encouraging building owners to reduce their energy and water consumption and do energy retrofits. It also says it may require owners to prepare conservation and demand management plans.

On its Environmental Registry website, the province says: “The largest barrier to making existing buildings more efficient is that many building owners/managers do not measure and track energy performance. …Building owners/managers must first understand how much energy and water is being used in order to identify where improvements can be made.”

John Georgakopoulos, a lawyer with Willms & Shier in Toronto, has written an article pointing out that building owners have concerns about the proposed regulations. For example, the Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA) recognizes the benefits of benchmarking, “but stressed that any data collection must ‘not impinge on the business interests of commercial real estate owners and managers and their right of privacy.'”

BOMA also believes that conservation and demand management plans would be a waste of effort because the government does not have the resources to oversee them and ensure they are implemented.

Georgakopoulos says that the new regulations will affect commercial and multi-unit residential buildings, and some industrial buildings. They could affect strip malls, apartment buildings and big box stores. There are exceptions, including manufacturing and agricultural facilities, data centres, and residential buildings of fewer than 10 buildings.

If the regulations are passed, the first reporting deadline for owners would be July 1, 2017.

To read Georgakopoulos’s article, click here.

To see Ontario’s proposed regulations, click here.


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