Genius comes in two kinds: through people just like us but more so, and through people and organizations that have that extra spark. If it was not for the global need to save energy, the term “energy management” might never have even been coined… Globally we need to save energy.
CivicAction’s Greening Greater Toronto’s first annual Race to Reduce Awards had that extra spark. The Race encouraged thousands of companies to better manage their energy use and environmental impact. Office building landlords and tenants participated in the Race to Reduce smart energy office challenge. As a result, they reduced their buildings’ energy use, very smart.
Thomas Edison was a genius. He still holds the record of submitted patents. And he believed whole-heartedly that “some skills are better learned by doing while others simply by understanding”. If Edison was alive today he would understand the need to reduce the damage that we are doing to our planet, Earth. But it does not take a genius to realize that.
As a human race we would probably find things rather difficult without the Earth, so it makes good sense to try to make it last. Controlling and reducing energy consumption makes sense. It enables you to reduce costs. It is like a tornado. You want to hang on to what you have. You do not want to see everything go. But the more energy consumed, the greater the risk of energy price increases and supply shortages.
The Race challenged Toronto region landlords and tenants from office buildings of all types, sizes and ages to publicly commit to work together to reduce energy use in their buildings. The aim was (is) to improve air quality in the Toronto region and achieve sustained carbon emission reductions in the office-building sector. That sector contributes 20% of the region’s carbon emissions.
“The inaugural Race to Reduce Awards event celebrated some of the region’s best examples of landlord and tenant collaboration to achieve energy and financial savings,” said Linda Mantia, Head, Enterprise Services and Chief Procurement Officer at RBC and voluntary Co-Chair of Greening Greater Toronto and its Commercial Building Energy Leadership Council. “The entries we received are a real testament to how we can reduce our collective energy footprint, and they give us confidence that we will achieve our goal of reducing our collective energy use by ten per cent over the Race’s four years.”
It is a great example of how a market driven initiative can support public policy goals. The Race supports the Ontario government’s timeline for energy conservation targets. The good news keeps getting better. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) have signed an agreement that will create a common platform for measuring and assessing the energy performance of commercial buildings in both countries.
“Energy benchmarking is an important aspect of an effective strategy to improve energy efficiency in buildings, because what gets measured gets done,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources. “This agreement is another example of how we are working with the U.S., through the Clean Energy Dialogue, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.”
Benchmarking commercial buildings is a growing United States trend that is coming here. Benchmarking is embraced as a point of entry into strategic energy management and is being undertaken by thousands of commercial enterprises each year. California became the first state to make benchmarking mandatory and require disclosure of commercial building data to tenants, buyers and lenders. It is mandatory in Washington D.C., Austin, Texas, New York, New York, Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco, California.
Canada’s new national energy benchmarking tool is a smart solution based on the EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool. Available in 2013, the new tool will use information about building characteristics as well as Canadian national survey data to benchmark energy consumption, costs, operational practices, and provide commercial owners and managers with a blueprint for continuous improvement.
Photo Credit: Rob Sinclair