Energy management programs

Energy management is crucial to the operations of non-profit housing and its impact on the environment.  Electricity, fuel, water, sewage and waste disposal create operating costs for residential buildings. Housing providers can control these costs with an energy management program that makes physical changes, like retrofits, and procedural changes, like auditing utility bills.

ONPHA can help you to create your own energy management program that will make your building greener and support your tenants as they adopt environmentally aware practices. 

Getting management to commit to energy efficiency

To be successful, a board of directors or senior management first needs to invest resources in your energy management program. Once management is committed, someone should be appointed to oversee the program. If you do not have in-house experts, you may be able to hire an energy management consultant whose primary role is to provide energy management services.

Housing providers should educate themselves about energy efficiency. Publications like Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's "Healthy Hi-Rise" are helpful.

Case studies of successful energy efficiency retrofits can be found at Sustainable Building Information System, the Federal government's buildings programs, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Choosing an energy management consultant

There are a variety of resources available to help you select a consultant for your energy management program.

Energy audits

Energy management programs always begin with an energy audit. To find out which energy audit is right for you, visit the Federal Buildings Initiative's audit standards guidelines.

Do-it-yourself energy audit

Do-it-yourself energy audit forms are available through the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment. You can also get a do-it-yourself online form from the Office of Energy Efficiency.

Use this guide to begin your own audit. 

Several rating systems have been created to rank a building's environmental efficiency.  You can use these systems as a guideline for your own program or to see how green your building currently is.  Check out Green Globes and LEED.

Financing your energy management program

1. Use your annual building operations budget

Create a list of household items that can be replaced to promote energy efficiency (light bulbs, showerheads, ballasts, etc).  If items are broken or worn out upgrade to new energy efficient items.

2. Self-financing from capital budgets

Use your capital replacement reserve fund to buy energy efficient items.  If the savings potential is large, set up a self-managed revolving loan fund (see #3 for more details).

3. Self-managed revolving loan funds

Finance retrofit projects over time:

  1. Each month set aside a small sum of money from operating surpluses.
  2. Pay back these internal loans from the operating surplus using utility savings.
  3. Define terms of repayment so that the fund is not depleted.
  4. Track and monitor energy savings.

4. Energy Performance Contracting (EPC)

Hire Energy Service Contractors (ESCOs), such as Ameresco and Water Matrix, to:

  1. define the retrofit
  2. project the savings
  3. provide the capital financing
  4. guarantee a maximum period for repayment
  5. implement the project
  6. monitor energy or utility consumption to calculate savings
  7. assume all the risks for the success of the project

5. Utility demand side management programs

Many utility companies offer programs that assist customers in adopting energy conservation methods. Generally, they:

  • provide information and advertising
  • offer incentives and/or financing
  • adhere to codes and standards
  • commission research and development

View our list of incentive programs, or ask your utility company if they offer incentives. 

6. Climate change funds

Federal programs

Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency oversees programs that increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in federal government buildings, single-family homes, industrial and commercial buildings.

Federal incentives are helpful if your energy management program includes a ground-breaking project with huge energy reduction potential. The incentives are calculated on a formula based on actual energy savings.

Municipal programs

The City of Toronto established two loan sources to assist with the start-up costs of reducing energy consumption:  Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) and the Better Buildings Partnership.  Learn how to apply.

7. Take advantage of local rebate programs:

8. Traditional lenders and third-party guarantors

TD Canada Trust offers an energy savings loan program, Enviro Loans.  Check with your financial institution to see if it offers a similar program.

The City of Peterborough acts as a guarantor for loans to the non-profit sector, under its Sustainable Peterborough program.  It makes loans available through lenders at good rates by coordinating retrofits at multiple sites.

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) offers incentives for operators of multi-residential and single-family buildings.  Check your local utility provider's website or the OPA website for the latest incentives available to non-profit housing.

Similarly, Enbridge Gas and Union Gas offer incentive and rebate programs for upgrading existing natural gas systems and switching from electricity to natural gas.


Engaging your tenants

Tenants need to be engaged in making environmental changes in the buildings they live in.   Here are some resources and tips on how to engage your tenants in environmentally sustainable practices.

Measuring and monitoring your results

As part of your program, you will set energy-efficiency targets. Your investment should yield results that you can measure.  A useful resource for measuring results is the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) established by Canada's National Research Council.

To receive most energy-efficiency government incentives, you must demonstrate that the proposed retrofit will result in energy savings of at least 25%. According to architects and engineers, performance levels of 65% in energy savings are achievable.

The final step of your energy management program is the ongoing collection of data. You should identify performance goals, report results and monitor achievements.