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Working with Limitations: Proactive Planning for Your Building

Throughout our years of consulting with residential, commercial, and industrial building owners, a common issue faced is inflexibility when changes need to be made. Oftentimes by the time owners need to change something it is too late and too expensive to do so quickly. With relatively recent energy developments such as Canada's mandate to have all new passenger vehicles sold be zero-emission by 2035, and Ontario's growing electricity needs it is important to plan equipment replacements and upgrades around not just immediate payback but also future opportunities. The "inflexibility" and "changes" mentioned earlier are broad terms, but we will go over some of them below.


Building upgrades are an excellent chance to reassess needs and goals.
Building upgrades are an excellent chance to reassess needs and goals.

Factors for Change

There are a variety of reasons that building equipment needs to be changed, some of which you can influence and some that are completely out of your control:

  • Internal - Can be influenced: planned equipment replacement, equipment failure, facility expansion

  • External - Cannot be influenced: updated standards and mandates, new funding programs, trends, technology advancements

Businesses and organizations often plan and budget for the internal factors, but can be blindsided by external ones. A good energy audit can help plan for both and turn mandatory expenses into opportunities to take advantage of funding programs, save money and energy, and increase publicity/promotion.


Inflexibility: Barriers to Change

Unfortunately, while many building owners/operators that we have talked to are interested in upgrading their building they often face some combination of barriers. These barriers can include: limited funding, limited time, utility service size, etc. These can be unique to each case, and require their own unique solutions to work through them so it is important to start as soon as possible to identify barriers and their stakeholders.


See our previous series of blog posts: The Journey to Energy Efficiency Retrofit Success especially part 1 and part 2 for practical steps in building a business case, timing, and financing energy projects.


The Importance of Scalability: Electric Vehicle Chargers

As an example, recently we have seen condos with residents requesting chargers for their electric vehicles. Many condos currently have around 1-3 EV owners and are installing level 2 chargers that are made for single family homes. This works for a small number of chargers, however with Canada's EV sales mandate and as more EVs come in and the number of chargers increases the building will quickly run into issues with electrical capacity. This approach minimizes the immediate work and costs but will require much more work in the future, potentially including a service expansion from the utility, or replacing all of the basic chargers with networked ones. Some barriers they can eventually run into are:

  • Utility size: as more chargers are needed and used they may overload their distribution system

  • Timing: depending on electrical infrastructure many cables may need to be run and portions of the building shut down for work

  • Funding: all of the above cost money and may require extra budgeting and sources of funding

It is crucial to take an engineered approach when considering building work to identify ideal solutions to address barriers and present a viable technical and financial solution. Our consulting for EV chargers starts with information collection including a survey of current and prospective EV owners to address timing, and analysis of electrical bills to determine the size of the utility service and spare capacity. Using that information, we can recommend different OCPP-compliant networked charger models and scalable configurations that will allow for a much larger number of chargers to be installed without expanding the service.


How We Can Help

Mann Energy Solutions (MES) is a professional consulting engineering company that specializes in electrical and energy solutions, including engineering and implementation. Our experienced engineers can help work with your building’s unique profile to identify spare electrical capacity, energy saving opportunities, and design the best system for you. We have extensive experience with energy retrofits

that make the most of your existing electrical capacity by optimizing building processes and equipment such as lighting, mechanical systems, electrical loads, and building envelope to reduce your energy use.


Our firm has hundreds of installed electrical and power 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

  • Coordination with utilities for distribution system upgrades, service size expansions, and microgeneration through solar PV and cogeneration

For more information or a complimentary assessment contact us through the main site, info@mannenergysolutions.com, or call (905) 597-5855.


Sources and Further Reading

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