Energy Manager

REALpac announces ambitious national target for energy consumption in office buildings

TORONTO, ON — On Friday, following extensive research and consultation, the Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac) announced the 20 by '15 national energy consumption target for office buildings. 20 by '15 is one of the most aggressive office building energy performance targets in the world and, if achieved, would make the commercial office building sector in Canada a leader in conservation efforts. Improving energy efficiency in office buildings presents a huge opportunity for addressing climate change mitigation. Concerted action promises substantial cuts in emissions while adding to economic growth, creating healthier indoor environments and renewing infrastructure.

The goal of REALpac's 20 by '15 initiative is to achieve the target of 20 equivalent kilowatt hours of total energy use per square foot of rentable area per year (20 ekWh/ft(2)/year), in office buildings, by the year 2015. The target is intended as an essential first step in demonstrating substantial, sector-wide emissions reductions and operating cost savings, while taking full advantage of incentives and getting in front of potential regulations.

The 20 by '15 target was developed based on an analysis of the results of energy consumption data as part of the Canada Green Building Council's (CaGBC) LEED pilot project conducted under Green Up: Canada's Building Performance Program in 2008. Achieving the target would lower median energy use for commercial office and government office buildings by 49% and 31% respectively. Michael Brooks, Chief Executive Officer of REALpac, stated that, "the 20 by '15 target is only slightly better than some of the best office buildings in the benchmarking study, but is half the consumption level of the median and a third of the consumption level of the worst performing office buildings in Canada. Even the top-performing office buildings have room to improve. The 20 by '15 target is achievable."

Thomas Mueller, Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), also supports REALpac's 20 by '15 target. "This target will result in an estimated 6.8 million tonne reduction of CO2 annually from the commercial office sector by 2015 and contribute to the CaGBC's goal of achieving significant CO(2) savings from buildings and homes in Canada," said Mueller. The CaGBC's "GREEN UP" program is a new way for office building owners to assess potential energy and CO(2) savings, and enables them to make performance improvements. Green Up complements LEED Canada for Existing Building Operation & Maintenance (LEED EB:OM), a comprehensive building rating tool, which provides owners with opportunities to improve performance in a number of areas including energy, water, waste and indoor air quality.

"Our members manage more than 1.9 billion square feet of commercial real estate across the country and we believe the 20 by '15 target is achievable," says Diana Osler Zortea, President of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada. "The target will help keep the industry focused on improving energy efficiency and ultimately, reducing its carbon footprint." The soon-to-be released BOMA BESt Energy and Environmental Report, based on independently-verified data, indicates that BOMA BESt certified buildings are already well on their way to reaching the 20 by '15 target. BOMA BESt buildings need to attain a further average reduction of 37% in energy consumption to meet the new target, which is achievable through improved management practices and innovation, hallmarks of participation in the BOMA BESt program. BOMA BESt is BOMA Canada's proprietary measurement, monitoring and training program that fosters, and recognizes, improvements in environmental performance and management.

According to the 20 by '15 Research Report, the use of more efficient technology does not necessarily achieve good (best) performance - attention to system design and standards are equally as important. Effective office building operations and the engagement of tenants are essential to high performance, and in combination they are expected to provide at least half of the projected improvement. There is no apparent correlation between the age of an office building and energy performance, and even top-performing office buildings today have significant room to improve. The REALpac 20 by '15 target can be reached, and median energy use level for the commercial and government office sectors reduced by up to one half, simply by consistently practicing what we already know how to do.

Canada's real estate industry is positioned to have a meaningful impact on the climate change mitigation agenda, through both its own potential to demonstrate greenhouse gas emission reductions, and by the example it can provide to other building sectors, other parts of the economy, and other regions of the world. The commercial office sector and government real property departments have helped, through their participation in the CaGBC pilot projects, to both substantiate the opportunity for deep cuts in energy use and GHG emissions, and to develop the means by which to achieve and sustain them. REALpac's 20 by '15 target takes this leadership to the next level.

Download the 20 by '15 Research Report at

September 21, 2009  By  Rob Colman

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