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The Journey to Energy Retrofit Success - Part 1

Part 1: Assess

Part 2: Plan

Part 3: Implement

For many organizations and property owners finding the starting point of identifying energy efficiency measures can be challenging. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) provides very valuable resources to guide the process that defines the framework qualified energy service and consulting companies, and energy management professionals follow. This process can be broken down into these four Phases:

Assess -> Plan -> Implement -> Maintain

Equipment Maintenance
Equipment Maintenance

Phase 1 - Assess:

The assessment stage is the first step of determining if action is needed and the level of effort or investment required. It can be divided into 3 steps:

  1. Property or portfolio managers and owners buy in. Whether the driver is enhancing profits or meeting Green House Gas (GHG) emissions targets, a high-level business case can aid in obtaining management and decision makers commitment to the project.

  2. Benchmarking your building or portfolio of buildings is the next step in the journey. Your Energy Service Company (ESCO) will use their own benchmarking system or ENERGY STAR portfolio Manager. The output will show the building’s energy use intensity in eKwh/Sq.ft or equivalent units against similar buildings in the province or country after normalizing for factors like occupancy hours, climate, etc. A minimum of 12 months of energy bills are typically required by most Energy Consulting and ESCOs to establish a baseline. This baseline will be used later to measure retrofits energy savings against it.

  3. Identifying opportunities in your buildings. The identification process can be accomplished either by running a commissioning process first to bring back the building to its original design state, especially if its current condition is unknown or has been poorly maintained, some energy savings can be realized directly there. The commissioning process may or may not need to be followed by an energy audit and investment in a retrofit depending on the age of equipment and building, among many other factors. The other option is proceeding directly with an energy audit which in many cases is the preferred option. Typically, the company performing the energy audit will examine the building history, interview building operators and maintenance personnel and compile a complete inventory of the building systems assets. In addition, it will examine data from the building automation system and a minimum of 12 months of energy bills. More detailed audits will include a building envelope and building systems energy simulations using a simulation software.

Energy Audit graphs
Energy Audit Graphs

The Energy Audit:

Building energy audits examine different options to improve the energy efficiency of the building by upgrading or replacing existing equipment and using engineering calculations to estimate energy savings. The audit provides a cost-benefit analysis, often using different financial metrics such as Payback period, NPV, cashflow, etc. for different energy efficiency measures. The level of detail and accuracy of the modelling and financial analysis will depend on the level of audit run. ASHRAE classifies energy audits into Level I, II and III. Many ESCOs and Energy Consulting Companies will offer a complimentary Level I audit, also referred to as an Energy Audit Walk-Through. Walk-throughs do not provide enough details to examine large capital retrofits or run financial analyses of the potential measures.

The goal of a successful energy audit is transforming the larger Energy Efficiency and GHG emissions reduction goals identified in the Benchmarking process into specific energy efficiency measures. These measures should be presented in a way that facilitates prioritizing them and allocating budgets and schedules. The measures proposed for one building should also tie in well with the organization's greater Energy efficiency goals and strategy.

If we examine a common case of replacing a retiring boiler in a Multi-Unit Residential building, the traditional approach would be replacing the boiler with a new more efficient boiler. The simple payback period of this necessary investment could be less than 5 years. However, there might be alternatives to replacing the boiler if a system engineering approach is used where techniques like heat recovery may be used to reduce the number of boilers for instance. This approach will optimize the allocated budget utilization and may even allow for implementing other retrofits under the same budget. In addition, the energy audit will provide a roadmap to achieving the energy efficiency and GHG reduction goals while maximizing the return on investment. This scientific energy audit based approach will not only result in lower carbon tax payments, and lower energy bills compared to the traditional approach in this example, but will also increase the property value and tenant comfort. Energy audits will also explore the feasibility of implementing Distributed Generation technologies such as Solar-PV, micro-wind or energy storage, in addition to Global Adjustment management strategies.

Stay tuned for our next newsletter as we explore phase 2 of The Journey to Energy Retrofit Success.

We have included below useful links to the EnergyStar Portfolio Manager, and the two most widely used buildings energy simulation tools – CAN-QUEST and RETScreen. Also check our main website for solutions to:

  1. Energy Strategic Planning

  2. Consulting Services

  3. Engineering and Project Management

  4. Procurement and Construction

How We Can Help

Mann Energy Solutions (“MES”) is a professional consulting engineering company that specializes in energy management, including energy audits, mechanical/electrical engineering and implementation. Our firm has hundreds of installed energy management projects and we have been in business since 1983.

Some of our services include:

  • Free site walk-through by our experienced engineers and technicians to provide an initial site assessment

  • Engineering feasibility studies

  • Incentive study and application

  • Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) for a turnkey project

For more information or a complimentary assessment contact us through the main site,, or call (416) 201 9109 x 158.





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