Energy Manager

News
Helping high-rises lower their energy use

February 25, 2015 - Engaging residential tenants in energy conservation was the focus of the first Partners for Change workshop on November 6, 2014.


February 25, 2015
By Jessie Ma Lorraine Gauthier and Ramtin Attar

Over 40 apartment building owners, property managers, utility representatives and other experts participated in the discussion. The workshop was delivered by the City of Toronto’s Tower Renewal Office and ALERT (Affordable & Low-income Environmental Renewal in Toronto), and was sponsored by Enbridge and hosted by Autodesk.

ALERT created the Partners for Change workshops to generate innovative ideas to unlock financial and environmental value from energy efficiency in Toronto’s aging residential high-rise towers. These action-oriented workshops are intended to channel the insight and expertise of forward-thinking leaders, collectively identify promising opportunities, and scale them for region-wide systemic change.

Participants coalesced around two main ideas: building a sound business case for investing in tenant engagement; and creating a community of practice to regularly share ideas and best practices from building owners and property managers.

A sound business case is critical for convincing building owners to support tenant engagement programs. The benefits of tenant engagement must outweigh the costs to demonstrate a favourable return on investment. Benefits can include energy savings and social gains such as happier tenants, reduced vacancies, and pride of place. The business case for tenant engagement can then be compared to other traditional investment opportunities, such as technology upgrades, maintenance, and operational improvements.

Communities of practice have successfully facilitated shared knowledge in other sectors, and they have the potential of catalyzing positive change for energy conservation in apartment buildings. They are forums where best practices can be shared and where members can encourage one another.

These two ideas are complementary, with the business case establishing the rational, logical impetus for action, and the community of practice fostering a culture of information sharing and continuous improvement.

ALERT will continue to work with the workshop’s participants and other key stakeholders to make the business case and community of practice a reality.

For more information about the Partners for Change workshop, please download the summary report below.

Illustration: Erica Bota