Research Report

Improving Energy Efficiency in Alberta’s Buildings: Best Practices, Key Actors and the Role of Sustainable Energy Organizations

Eugene Mohareb
Jesse Row
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Published by: Pembina Institute
Pages: 35
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Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Abstract
    (pp. 5-5)
  4. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 6-7)

    The Government of Alberta has promised to make energy efficiency a priority, singling it out as low-hanging fruit among the provinces energy resources. Energy efficiency represents a significant opportunity to lower costs for the end user and reduce provincial energy consumption, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions. Reduced energy consumption also lowers non-point source air pollutants, which have recently been identified as a significant cancer risk factor by the World Health Organization.¹ With respect to economic impacts, energy efficiency programs have demonstrated value as a job-creating approach to addressing environmental concerns; in B.C., energy efficiency programs are estimated to generate...

  5. 2. State of energy consumption in Alberta’s buildings
    (pp. 8-16)

    Electricity and natural gas consumption in Alberta’s residential sector are a reality of daily household operation. However, the potential exists to significantly reduce the amount of energy used in Alberta’s homes. The average Alberta home consumed ~39,200 ekWh or 141 GJ (287 kWh/m² or 1.03 GJ/m²) in 2009 through energy use related to heating/cooling, appliance use and lighting⁶. This can be contrasted with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation high-performance demonstration project “Factor 9” in Regina, Saskatchewan, which was able to achieve an annual purchased energy demand of 30 ekWh/m² (or 0.1 GJ/m²). This suggests that technologies and construction methods...

  6. 3. Best practices to promote energy efficiency in buildings
    (pp. 17-27)

    Many jurisdictions all over the world have recognized the numerous benefits from greater energy conservation in buildings. Descriptions of a selection of the best practices taken from these innovative locations are provided below. Alberta currently has relatively few of these initiatives underway, so the opportunity exists to adopt additional practices in the province to advance energy efficiency in buildings and make Alberta a national efficiency leader.

    Many homeowners and potential home buyers have a limited appreciation of the energy requirements and related operating costs associated with their purchase. However, energy labelling of all new and resale homes at time of...

  7. 4. Key factors and actors involved in energy efficiency in Alberta
    (pp. 28-30)

    The complexity of the power map illustrated in Figure 10 suggests that there are many factors and actors that influence the adoption of energy efficiency in buildings. To create lasting market transformation, it is important to ensure that owners and operators have suitable motivation and ability to make energy efficiency decisions. This requires the collaboration of developers and builders, realtors, lending institutions, and all levels of government, as well as direct engagement with owners and operators. The role these actors play in boosting the energy efficiency in Alberta’s buildings are described below.

    Through the manufacturers, builders, consultants and their associated...

  8. 5. What can be done to increase energy efficiency in Alberta buildings?
    (pp. 31-32)

    Interviews with industry stakeholders that were held during the drafting of this report posed two central questions; what can be done to increase energy efficiency in Alberta, and how can existing barriers to this goal be addressed? Generally speaking, the responses to the former focused on increased funding and political will, in order to demonstrate that energy efficiency is a priority in Alberta. Suggestions on what would demonstrate adequate political will included commitments to both the proposed and future building code improvements, regulations that encourage alternative financing models, and funding for long-term programs to improve efficiency. With respect to existing...

  9. 6. The role of sustainable energy organizations
    (pp. 33-34)

    Sustainable energy organizations are well positioned to play a leadership role in increasing building energy efficiency in Alberta. These organizations have a demonstrated ability to create change within the marketplace and have placed energy efficiency as a primary objective of their work. They have a broad enough scope within their mandate to engage with many of the actors identified in Figure 10. A concerted approach has the potential to result in a large-scale transformation of energy efficiency in the province’s buildings, including:

    Increased awareness of energy efficiency policies among all actors, as well as the roles of other stakeholders in...

  10. 7. Conclusion
    (pp. 35-35)

    The research presented above is a snapshot of the state of energy efficiency in Alberta’s buildings. It identifies room for improvement within the province’s residential and commercial building stock. There are many options for advancing energy efficiency in Alberta’s buildings, but one of the key opportunities identified is to have one or more sustainable energy organizations take a more active and visible leadership role in order to engage the broad range of actors that play a role in determining the energy efficiency of buildings in Alberta.

    If successful, an initiative to increase the energy efficiency of buildings in Alberta can...