Boardwalk REIT achieves submetering success
By David Stewart Jones
Electricity consumption has reportedly decreased by approximately 14% over the past five years.
By David Stewart Jones
“Energy prices are spiking and everybody wants to use less,” says Tannis Crosby, procurement administrator at Calgary-based Boardwalk, a real estate investment trust (REIT) that was founded in 1984 with a lone 16-unit walk-up development and has since become one of Canada’s largest owner-operators of multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs), with more than 33,000 units across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.
And indeed, energy cost savings were the primary motivator when, a decade ago, Boardwalk retrofitted 92 of their buildings with electricity submetering technology—and they were not disappointed with the results.
Replacing traditional ‘utilities included’ rental arrangements with submetering enables MURB owners and managers to (a) allocate or recover energy costs by measuring and billing the electricity consumption of individual units, (b) assess overall energy use and performance of installed equipment and (c) make tenants more aware of their personal energy consumption.
Boardwalk reports significant energy savings with their retrofitted buildings and credits the submetering program with helping foster a more energy-aware culture among their residents.
“Electricity consumption dropped by about 14% in our submetered buildings over the past five years,” says Crosby, “and that’s with lower vacancy rates and higher occupancy rates. Moving to submetering in our buildings has helped our ‘resident members’ make energy conservation part of their lifestyle.”
“Retrofitting Boardwalk’s buildings was a ‘pioneer project’ for us and a catalyst for jumpstarting other submetering projects across Canada,” says Derrick Newman, an account manager for Enercare Connections. “They recently renewed their long-time business relationship with us for another term and we are now involved in new-construction submetering projects for them in Ontario. It’s an ongoing success story that provides an industry example for other companies.”
Installed in mechanical rooms or power closets servicing individual apartments, Boardwalk’s multi-point submetering devices gather and transmit electrical consumption data to Enercare’s billing centres. These in turn generate accurate billing data, use reports and additional details for the building owners and managers.
“Educating the building owners, operators and tenants about how submetering works is vital to our success,” says Newman.
An independent 2016 Navigant Consulting study, commissioned by Enercare, found installing submetering systems in multi-tenant residential buildings had the potential to reduce their monthly electricity use in the first year by up to 40%.
“Residents feel like they’re a part of where they live,” says Crosby. “Retrofitting our buildings with submetering empowers them to take charge of their energy consumption, cut costs and reduce their personal carbon footprint. We continue to help them do it. Imagine the energy we could save as a society if other large companies did this?”
David Stewart Jones is a Toronto-based environmental technology writer and researcher, who prepared this column on behalf of Enercare. For more information, contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.enercare.ca.
This column originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Energy Manager Canada magazine.