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Energy Matters: June 2018

Summer is here and with it, your Q2 issue of Energy Matters! In this issue, we bring you a summary of the GreenON Social Housing submissions, tips on how to stretch energy project dollars, a sneak peek at UMP 2.0, and more.

In this issue of Energy Matters:

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GreenON Social Housing – By the Numbers

Having received over $210 million in requests for funding, the $25 million GreenON Social Housing program is filling a critical need across Ontario in helping providers combat rising energy costs and reducing their GHG emissions.

Submissions to the program were evaluated in April by an independent panel of representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Housing, Manitoba Housing and the Green Ontario Fund. Successful proponents have now been notified, and a full-list of regions receiving funding is posted on HSC’s GreenON Social Housing web page.

Below is a summary of the proposals received, by the numbers.

Summary of Submissions

HSC looks forward to working with the new government to continue to support the sector in improving energy efficiency and combating rising operating costs.

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Enhance Your Available Project Dollars

For many energy efficiency projects, there are complementary measures you can take to help you get the best value for your dollar.

Not sure what complementary projects can enhance a project’s benefits? Here are a few suggestions:

  • SaveOnEnergy

    Tap into incentives: Local utility companies offer incentives towards various energy saving measures. For example, Enbridge Gas and Union Gas provide incentives for up to 50% of the costs of gas-fired equipment, as well as energy audits. Additional incentives are also available from local electricity companies through the SaveOnEnergy Program, which provides rebates towards various electricity saving measures, including lighting, pumps and motors, building envelope, and air conditioning. SaveOnEnergy also offers a separate program called the Home Assistance Program, which provides several free in-suite measures, such as unit lighting, window a/c units, and refrigerators for eligible housing providers.

  • Right-size your heating system: Many heating systems were built too large for the building’s needs, so replacement is an opportunity to correct the system’s size. A “right sizing analysis” by a qualified professional should be done prior to equipment replacement. An analysis of the building’s historical energy usage may also identify systems that need to be down sized. Downsizing will reduce the cost of the new system as well as increase operational efficiency.
  • Add variable frequency drives: “VFDs” can be added to circulation pumps, booster pumps, and make-up air unit motors to increase efficiency and ensure these systems don’t needlessly run on full power.
  • LED Bulb

    Take control of:

    • Lighting: Occupancy and lighting controls should be considered for any LED lighting retrofit to maximize savings and reduce unnecessary electricity usage.
    • Heating: Heat loss can be reduced by adding controls to heating systems.
    • Exhaust fans: Envelope improvements increase a building’s air tightness but can also increase the amount of humidity within a unit. Humidistats can be added to control bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to ensure fans operate when needed instead of only when a resident manually turns them on.
  • Improve window a/c installation: Poorly installed window a/c units can cause damage to window frames and create heat loss in winter months. Engineered sleeves can accommodate window a/c units while decreasing winter heat loss and increasing safety around window frames.
  • roof insulation

    Raise the roof insulation: Most buildings in our sector lack adequate roof or attic insulation, resulting in high rates of heat loss and uncomfortable units for tenants. Insulating a roof and adding or replacing solar vents can increase the ventilation rate within your attic or crawl space and lessen the cooling load.

  • Cool with shading: Many buildings have dramatically different heating and cooling loads depending on the orientation of the building. Sun Shading measures, such as louvers, awnings, vertical or horizontal fins, and even trees, allow for passive cooling by limiting solar heat gain during the summer and allowing for it during the winter. Such measures increase both energy efficiency and tenant comfort.
  • Light the way to efficiency: Outdoor lighting can often be overly bright, improperly shielded, and poorly directed. Directing lighting to where and when it is needed not only improves the lighting’s efficiency but can also improve its effectiveness.
  • window coating

    Reflect on windows: Reflective coatings on windows can reflect heat away in the summer, keep it inside in the winter, and help limit bird fatalities. During the day, birds see their habitat—trees, bushes, sky, water—reflected in windows and fly towards them, so adding coatings and visual markers can help limit collisions.

You can work with your contractor and energy auditors to identify the complementary projects that make the most sense for your building and can contribute big value to your major project. There are always savings to be found in the details!
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Funding for In-suite Lighting & Appliances

Social Housing Building

There are various incentive programs available to housing providers to help with electricity retrofits — which is great, but it can sometimes be tricky deciphering out which program applies to your project.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s available:

The SaveON Energy Program is similar to the Retrofit programs offered by Union and Enbridge. It offers rebates of up to 50%, typically for common area or major equipment, such as motors, drives, HVAC upgrades, controls, hot water systems including solar, building automation controls, and variable speed drives. You’d be most likely to access the SaveON Energy Program for projects being funded through provincial programs like GreenON or SHAIP.

The IESO’s Home Assistance Program, on the other hand, can help you target your in-suite electricity usage with a variety of free upgrades focused on tenant spaces. It is available to both social housing providers and tenants. While this program focuses on single and multi-family buildings up to three storeys high, larger buildings may also be permitted to participate.

Free upgrades may include:

  • Energy Star light bulbs (LEDs)
  • Power bars with timers
  • Efficiency showerheads (standard and handheld)
  • Aerators (kitchen and bathroom)
  • Drying racks

Participants may also be eligible for:

  • Energy-efficient refrigerator
  • Window air conditioner
  • Additional attic or basement insulation
  • Weather stripping around doors and windows

The Home Assistance Program is delivered by IESO’s partner, GreenSaver. For information, call GreenSaver at 1-855-591-0877 or email

You may be eligible to participate in the SaveON Energy Program or the Home Assistance Program even if you have received funding under a government retrofit program. You can get more information by contacting your local electricity company about the SaveON Energy Program, as well as Union Gas or Enbridge Gas to hear more about the incentives they offer.
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Next Generation Energy Tracking – UMP 2.0 Coming Soon!

UMP Dashboard

HSC’s new UMP platform is coming this fall. It will be built on EnergyCap Canada’s dynamic energy management software.

UMP participants will be able to log-in any time to get a quick snapshot of their energy performance using an interactive dashboard with a choice of simple or technical views to fit the user’s needs. From the dashboard, users will be able to drill down to see how each building is using energy and water and run specialized reports on parameters and timelines of their choosing.

Each quarter, UMP participants will receive an enhanced suite of reports on their portfolio, showing year over year performance and how their portfolio measures up to the rest of the sector.

To ensure a smooth transition to the new system, HSC will be contacting current UMP participants this summer to:

  • Outline the changes to the program and new platform.
  • Verify the information we have about your building and check whether you’ve completed any recent retrofits.
  • Request a data authorization form if you haven’t already provided.

We look forward to bringing you a new and improved UMP program. Contact if you’d like to hear more.

In the meantime, the latest utility benchmarking reports are still available in the UMP portal. Log in to your account to see how your portfolio is doing.

Login to UMP

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Second Round of 2019 HSC Gas Options Coming Soon

Gas Flame

The next round of Natural Gas Program purchasing options for 2019 will be release shortly as part of our regular renewal process. These options are targeted at clients whose current term ends this year and who have not yet selected an option for 2019.

This summer’s renewal process is the second time we have offered our customers purchasing options for 2019. In response to the 10-year historic low for gas rates reached this past February, HSC offered “early bird” purchasing options to enable gas clients to take advantage of the low rates, rather than wait until our regular summer renewal period. Almost half of our clients chose to fix rates during the February renewal! By seizing the market opportunity, HSC was able to secure rates for these clients that were far lower than estimated.

We continue to work to provide a flexible and competitive program, shaped by input from our customers and capitalizing on gas market trends.

Questions? Contact
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Did You Know? Drones Can Help Drive Energy Efficiency

The use of drones for the inspection of facilities is continuing to increase, with the Vale of Glamorgan Council in Wales the latest to announce their use.

The use of drones in this case has been beneficial in resolving access and safety issues, and has provided the council with an easier method of completing energy efficiency surveys of its housing stock. The use of this technology is also reportedly delivering real savings. You can read the full article here.

Have you come across an interesting story lately related to innovative approaches to energy efficiency? If so, contact us! It could be featured in our next issue.
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Common Energy Audit Issues & How to Prevent Them

Home Audit

There are good energy audits and, unfortunately, some that miss the mark. Audits are typically conducted according to three levels of guidelines set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers or “ASHRAE”. However, even when targeting ASHRAE, energy audits can lack complete information or even include inaccurate calculations. Below are five common issues and how you can prevent them:

1. Inadequate building descriptions
An accurate building description ensures that the auditor has spent enough time looking at your building to determine its needs. The description serves to map the building’s current state and provides useful insights that help as you review the audit’s project recommendations. Some incentive and funding programs may require specific information in this section, so it’s important to ensure it’s done accurately and completely.

At a minimum, ask your auditor to provide details about:

    • Roof and exterior/interior walls, including R-value and/or a simple description
    • Infiltration
    • Ventilation
    • Heating and cooling systems including if systems are different in common versus residential spaces
    • Lighting
    • Appliance and plug loads
    • Domestic hot water system
    • Motors and drives
    • Windows and doors
    • Controls

2. Missed projects
The goal of an audit is to identify all viable projects that can be done to reduce energy and water usage in your building. Auditors may fail to list a viable project for a variety of reasons, such as if the auditor is poorly trained, if the audit budget prevents the auditor from sufficiently reviewing the building, or if the audit’s savings estimates skew for or against a given project.

To ensure a thorough list of project recommendations, have your auditor:

  • Adhere to ASHRAE Level 1, 2, or 3 energy audit standards.
  • Provide proof of training, such as certifications (Certified Energy Auditor, Certified Energy Manager, Professional Engineer) and memberships (ASHRAE, Association of Energy Engineers).
  • State full life cycle costs for each measure. Life-cycle costing is particularly helpful when comparing two projects with the same payback. It allows you to see the full cost benefits over a project’s full life rather than only up to the point the project pays for itself. An audit that has no life-cycle costing is not providing a complete picture of project impacts over time.
  • Go beyond simple payback or return on investment as metrics for recommending a project. Metrics such as net present value and internal rate of return can provide a clearer picture of the full benefits of a project. See this helpful guide to metrics and project selection.
  • Assign a senior staff member to oversee the planning, field investigation, and final review. Junior or less experienced staff often conduct the audits and draft the report, so senior oversight is important for quality control.

3. Narrowly defined project scope
When auditors consider projects individually, they can miss opportunities to bundle projects together for greater energy and cost savings.

One way to prevent this is to have your auditor describe the scope of each project listed, including the location, quantity and type of components being replaced, and any complementary components, energy rating, and testing requirements. A comprehensive project list allows projects to be selected based not only on costs and savings but on how a project can be combined with other measures to achieve economies of scale in installation and project management costs.

4. Poorly calculated energy analysis and savings estimates
Energy audits typically include an analysis of the building’s current energy and water use. This analysis goes hand-in-hand with the estimation of project savings. When these two sets of calculations are done poorly, the result is unreliably high or low savings estimations.

To ensure accuracy, have your auditor:

  • Do a monthly billing analysis with at least two years of utility bills, including accounting for the impacts of weather and factors such as occupancy in their calculations. The auditor should also indicate how they handled any missing or estimated bills, such as by examination of prior year bills and realistic averaging.
  • Limit the uncertainty factor in savings calculations. A certain percentage of uncertainty will always be factored into an auditor’s savings estimates to represent the difference between calculated and actual energy savings. This uncertainty should be clearly stated as a plus or minus percentage within the audit, and a well-calculated audit will limit that percentage to a reasonable amount, such as +/- 10% or +/- 15%. HSC has seen audits with an uncertainty factor as high as +/- 50%, meaning that the auditor’s calculations could have been as much as 50% above or below actual savings!
  • Ensure estimated savings represent a realistic portion of the building’s overall actual energy use. Savings are commonly overestimated for three main reasons: the energy use of the existing equipment is overestimated; the energy use of new equipment is underestimated; or both. Unreasonable savings estimates can result from a poorly calculated energy model, incorrect measurements and assumptions, or failure to account for impacts of one project on another project. Depending on the size and type of projects, savings typically range from 5 to 40% of the building’s total energy usage. Deep energy retrofits would likely have higher estimates.
  • Benchmark the building against a credible standard (such as EnergyStar Portfolio Manager multi-family benchmark) or a large group of similar buildings by size and use to see how the building compares to others.

Adding specific requirements in your audit procurement documents can help protect you from many of the above issues. You’ll want to look for an auditor that understands how energy is used in residential buildings, is fluent in energy auditing methods, and has experience with the audit process. Training and certification in energy auditing is also important.

For more issues to watch for, see “10 Common Problems in Energy Audits.” For a helpful overview on energy audits, check out “A Guide to Energy Audits” by the U.S. Department of Energy. The guide describes levels of audits, all stages of the process and report, and provides sample procurement and agreement documents.
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