Energy benchmarking and auditing program

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What is the Better Buildings Ottawa – Benchmarking and Auditing Program?

The Benchmarking and Auditing program supports building owners and operators to identify opportunities to reduce their building’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Program participants benchmark their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions publicly. In exchange, participants gain access to:

  • an Energy Performance Scorecard and Insights Report
  • discounted building envelope thermal inspections
  • training programs for building operators, strategic energy management and organizational net-zero planning
  • site tours, case studies and other educational materials 
  • future retrofit financing programs.

See how buildings in Ottawa are performing with the Public Energy Performance Map.

What is energy benchmarking and why is it important?

Energy benchmarking is the process of tracking and recording a building’s energy performance over time. It is based on the fundamental principle that building energy consumption must be measured before it can be managed. Performance data can help owners and managers to identify opportunities for operational efficiency improvements and retrofit projects.

Energy benchmarking and the public disclosure of building performance data is a foundational piece for undertaking energy efficiency retrofits. Experience shows that collecting and reporting on building performance is a foundational step that alone can lead to annualized savings of between 2 and 3 percent.

Other benefits of energy benchmarking include:

  • Obtaining standardized information on building energy consumption, energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Establishing baseline reference points for building systems optimization
  • Highlighting opportunities for prioritizing underperforming buildings for energy efficiency improvement measures
  • Measuring and verifying the results of energy efficiency projects
  • Increasing transparency of the social and environmental impact of your business operations
  • Becoming eligible for ENERGY Star® Certification

Who can participate in the Program?

The program is open to all buildings in Ottawa, excluding small residential buildings like single detached homes, townhomes and other residential buildings under four storeys. The City of Ottawa is encouraging buildings over 20,000 square feet in size to participate.

How does the Program work?

The City of Ottawa is seeking to recruit and support building operators and owners to benchmark the energy and emissions performance of their buildings publicly.

OReg. 506/18 requires annual participation in the Province of Ontario’s Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRBprogram is mandatory for most buildings over 50,000 square feet using Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

Participation is the City of Ottawa’s program is voluntary and seeks to build off of the existing reporting processes with minimal additional inputs from building owners. The City’s program aims to provide building owners and operators valuable insights into their building’s performance and information on how it compares to other existing buildings.

Sign up for the City of Ottawa’s Benchmarking and Auditing program here.

  1. If your building is over 50,000 square feet, meet your regulatory requirements by enrolling in the Province of Ontario’s EWRB program and use free software to submit your property’s performance data.
  2. Complete a short intake form for the City of Ottawa’s program.
  3. Share consumption data with the City of Ottawa through the Energy Star Portfolio Manager platform. Should you require support in using this platform, reach out to the City of Ottawa.
  4. Review your free Energy Scorecard and Insights Report for each building or property submitted, and gain access to the City of Ottawa’s Better Building Ottawa network. These reports will provide high-level analysis on your property based on monthly utility consumption patterns.
  5. The City’s Better Buildings Ottawa team will be looking to offer ways to support property owners and managers to take learnings from the benchmarking program and to support new opportunities for connecting to district energy and reducing energy and emissions. Supports for this planning process will be made available to those who have benchmarked their properties first.

Participants will receive an Energy Performance Scorecard and Insights Report for each building submitted and be able to compare their building performance to other buildings in the program using the Energy Performance Map.

Participants must have authorization to access property information and building energy usage data including the buildings gross floor area and monthly energy bills. Please note that whole building data is required.

For details on how to collect whole building data for EWRB, see the March 2023 webinar with Hydro Ottawa for details. 

Benefits of participation

In addition to the benefits of energy benchmarking mentioned above, participants in the program will gain access to:

  • an Energy Performance Scorecard and Insights Report;
  • discounted building envelope thermal inspections;
  • training programs for building operators, strategic energy management and organizational net-zero planning;
  • site tours, case studies and other educational materials and
  • future retrofit financing programs.

Public Energy Performance Map

The public energy performance map is a tool that highlights the locations, property characteristics, and energy performance metrics and greenhouse gas emissions of those participating in the Benchmarking and Auditing Program.

Public disclosure of energy performance has been identified as a foundational component of a robust retrofit economy. Not only does it bring energy performance metrics into the public discourse, but also allows for information to be shared amongst building operators to improve building performance across the sector.

Energy Performance Scorecard and Insights Report

All those participating in the City of Ottawa’s Benchmarking and Auditing program will receive a free energy performance scorecard and insights report.  The scorecard will provide participants with a summary of building energy performance and show how your building ranks against others of a similar type within Ottawa. The energy insights report will provide participants with high-level diagnostics and end-use breakdown to guide energy conservation measures.

For a sample report, see Ottawa City Hall's 2021 Insights Report [ PDF 117 KB ]

Ottawa City Hall's 2021 Insights Report

Building Envelope Thermal Inspections

Thermal scans of your building envelope help determine energy saving and building restoration opportunities. (Source: QEA Tech)

Building envelope thermal inspections provide property owners and building operators with information about where energy loss is occurring within their building, as well as some structural problems and potential moisture leakage.

The City of Ottawa will be exploring options to coordinate thermal scans for those participating in the Benchmarking and Auditing program to secure favourable prices from service providers. The findings of these thermal inspections can be combined with benchmarked energy data to provide participants with detailed information about how their building energy performance can be improved.

The City of Ottawa performed comprehensive thermal audits on a selection of their buildings in 2021.

City of Ottawa - Kanata and Downtown Ottawa Aerial Thermography and Quantification Aggregate Analysis Interim Report [ PDF 5.154 MB ] 

The Government of Ontario’s Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking Program

Since 2019, the Government of Ontario has been requiring large buildings to report and benchmark energy and water consumption on an annual basis through its Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) program. Under the Reporting of Energy Consumption and Water Use regulation, large building owners need to report their building’s energy and water use once a year to the Ministry of Energy on:

  • July 1, 2019, for buildings 100,000 square feet and larger
  • July 1, 2023, for buildings 50,000 square feet and larger

The City of Ottawa is seeking to support commercial, industrial, institutional, and large residential buildings in this reporting process. The EWRB program uses ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, the same reporting tool as the City’s Benchmarking and Auditing program. Data can easily be submitted under the EWRB program and be shared with the City of Ottawa. Learn more about sharing building data here.