Building Science Forum©
By Brian Burton
The Toronto Hydro Electric System recently announced the creation of a new energy audit funding program intended to encourage building owners in improving the energy performance of their buildings.
According to Chris Tyrrell, Vice President of Customer Care & Chief Conservation Officer the new program will cover up to 50 % of the cost of an energy audit, depending on the size and complexity of the building.
He also added that “An audit helps building owners gain an understanding of how you use energy and identify opportunities to improve efficiency and reduce your energy, operating and maintenance costs.” Toronto Hydro Electric System also announced incentives for building retrofits that will help owners and tenants manage their electricity costs.
The new Retrofit program offers incentives of up to 50 per cent of the costs for replacing existing equipment with high-efficiency equipment and for installing new high-efficiency control systems. There are many applications for this program such as lighting controls and unitary air conditioning.
Chris suggested that owners have an audit done first and then look for the best opportunities to take advantage of the Retrofit program. (The energy audit must be completed by a third party with specific qualifications which are described on their website.)
Building owners with buildings 50,000 square feet or less can take advantage of up to $25,000 in incentives for an audit and analysis. Buildings greater than 50,000 sq, ft can receive larger incentives with a detailed analysis of capital intensive modifications (providing detailed project cost and savings calculations) after completing the initial audit and analysis.
Up to $35,000 in incentives are available for these larger buildings. A lessee also has an opportunity to qualify for $7,500 for completing an energy audit.
Energy retrofits offer many benefits:
- Energy retrofits can reduce annual energy costs by an average of 20%
- Retrofits pay for themselves over time.
- The value of the building is increased.
- Maintenance and operational costs are reduced.
Level 1 Energy Audit: Level I audits, as defined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), assesses a building’s energy costs and efficiency by analyzing energy bills and conducting a brief survey of the building.
It is intended to produce a general overview and to outline general energy conservation measures to identify low-cost improvement options. Estimated capital costs, anticipated annual energy cost savings and the simple payback or return on investment are also provided.
Level II Energy Audit – Energy Survey and Analysis: Level II audits consist of a more detailed building survey and analysis for a 12 – 36 month period to provide a better understanding of the building in terms of both short term and long term energy performance.
This level of audit may require the use of modeling simulation software and may include additional metering of larger energy consuming devices in order to breakdown the energy use to develop a more detailed building profile.
Level III Energy Audit: A Level III audit is comprehensive and focuses on the potential for capital improvement projects identified during Level II and involves a more detailed field data gathering and engineering analysis. Dynamic energy modeling is performed to provide a realistic energy consumption baseline. Level III audits provide a detailed cost and savings information sufficient for major capital investment decisions.
GTA Has Unique Urban Environment
The GTA has a unique urban environment and has more high-rise residential buildings than any other city in N.A. with the exception of New York. (Most of these buildings were constructed from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Since that time the trend has been moving towards construction of condominiums.)
It’s not surprising that there are many grants and funding initiatives because most of these buildings use much more energy and resources than is necessary. (In the past energy costs were not considered an important factor and our expectations of the indoor environment were much less sophisticated than they are today.)
Improving energy performance in these buildings is definitely a challenge because of the wide range of building size and types.
Many professionals feel that the existing grants and incentives are underutilized because of the complexities involved in applying for the numerous utility and government programs designed to encourage improvements in energy efficiency. Each funding mechanism or grant has a different mandate and it can become a very complex undertaking.
Visit: Toronto Programs
Brian Burton is the author of Fenestration Forum © and was recently appointed to the CSA’s Fenestration Installation Technician Certification Program Committee and NRC’s Standing Committee Task Group for Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Brian is a Research and Development Specialist for exp Services Inc.* and can be reached at email@example.com or visit www.exp.com (*New identity of Trow Associates Inc.)