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All buildings, owners, and sets of occupants are unique, and each requires a tailored solution.

Solutions to achieve significant carbon-emissions and/or energy-use reductions will be a combination of many of the following strategies, with new options and technologies being adding to the list on a regular basis.

Oakville Building Advisors can help with sourcing and managing the services needed to implement many of these strategies.

Part One: Reduce the building’s overall energy demand
  • Controls: upgrade/replace HVAC & lighting controls
    • Better monitor more efficiently manage energy use
    • Reduce waste
    • Benefit from increased comfort
    • Support various reporting needs
  • Building Envelope: improve insulation, reduce energy leakage
    • Wall insulation upgrades.
    • Wall air barriers, moisture control, and vapor control improvements.
    • Window upgrades – replacement or improvement.
    • Roof upgrades: improve insulation; improve reflectivity to reduce heat gain.
    • Shading of walls and windows to minimize heat gain.
  • Electrical Upgrades:
    • Lighting: 
      • All LED fixtures (greatly reduces long-term maintenance as well)
      • Add/include daylight sensors, occupancy sensors, and better lighting controls
      • Utilize task lighting and reduce general light levels to be more comfortable
    • Plug Loads:
      • Rework convenience power to be switch controlled to minimize “vampire loads”
      • Efficient desk fans to improve occupant controllability of comfort
      • Coordination with computer, office automation, and other systems
      • Separate sub-metering and reporting to help provide feedback for improvement
      • Many other options
      • Plug load contributions to overall building energy usage are often underestimated!
  • HVAC System Changes:
    • Electrification of system with heat-pump units – many options, including roof-top package units
    • Energy recovery ventilation for providing fresh air with minimal energy loss
    • Better room-by-room heating, cooling, and controllability
    • Electricity traditionally has been more expensive to use for heating air and water than natural (methane) gas. Air-source heat pumps are 2 to 4x more efficient, and in recent years there has been a significant increase in available cold-weather heat pumps at lower installed costs. The financials are often making sense to change to electric from gas for space heating, and even for domestic hot-water heating.
    • So many options…..
  • Kitchen Equipment
    • Change out gas for electric-induction equipment. Commercial electric equipment is only .slightly more expensive than gas.
    • May reduce hood requirements and make-up air requirements.
    • Professional chefs who have switched tend to love the controllability, safety, and comfort of all-electric kitchens.
  • Fireplaces
    • Water-vapor fireplaces are a new technology that can be a good substitute for decorative gas fireplaces. 
Part Two: Change energy source to all-electric
  • Carbon-based electricity generation from coal-fired and natural (methane) gas plants is still less polluting and more efficient than on-site heating generation from natural gas.
  • Electric heating, especially heat-pump systems, are more efficient than gas-fired systems.
  • Electrifying your building leverages the lower-emissions electricity provided by the power grid.
  • Remove or abandon gas services if possible.
  • Add Photo-voltaic systems to generate electricity on-site, if possible.
    • Roof panels are most common.
    • Wall panels are possible in certain situations.
    • Integrated roofing/PV for sloped roofs is a leading-edge technology.
    • PV Windows are another leading-edge option.
  • Add energy management systems:
    • Integrate to complement overall building automation and lighting control systems.
    • Battery storage paired with energy management controls can help shave down “peak load” needs and related rate increases.
  • Upgrade electric service – IF NEEDED. 

The equation: energy-demand reductions + on-site electricity generation + energy management systems + on-site battery-storage = minimized electrical service.

Part Three: Work with occupants and building managers to further reduce operational energy use
  • Use green leases or clauses to support energy- and emissions-reduction goals.
  • Target plug load reductions.
  • Provide energy-use data to tenants as close to real-time as possible.
  • Provide EV-charging systems for tenants and patrons, and separately meter those if possible.
  • Tackle the Embodied Carbon of materials, furniture, and supplies used in the building.
Part Four: Tracking and offsetting the remaining energy use or carbon emissions
  • Track the Embodied Carbon of the materials and processes used in construction.
  • Achieve the “net” part of Net-Zero-Energy by purchasing off-site renewable power. Note that are some nuances related to Retained Energy Credits (RECs) related to certain rebates, incentives, and regulatory reporting.
  • Achieve the “net” part of Net-Zero-Carbon by purchasing carbon offsets. Note that some of these programs are better than others and may be difficult to verify. Some ‘rules of thumb’ suggest offsets should not be relied on for more than 2% of carbon reductions.
  • Tackle other sources of emissions. These are often called Scope 3 emissions and are from suppliers and vendors. 

Ready to start decarbonizing your building?

Ready for the future

Improve building energy performance; reduce greenhouse-gas emissions; create a healthy, attractive place for occupants; improve asset financials; lead the market and differentiate your product; meet regulatory requirements; mitigate future market and energy-cost risks; support tenant, company, and investor ESG commitments and goals; and more…

“The quality and financial performance of real estate assets is increasingly correlated with sustainability performance.
Companies that effectively manage and disclose sustainability indicators are more attractive investment options as more climate-conscious equity and fixed-income investors consider climate risks in their investment decisions.”
Owen Thomas (1)