You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
This old management adage speaks to the value of new a provincial regulation that requires commercial and multi-unit residential buildings to report their annual energy and water use data.
Buildings are responsible for nearly a fifth of Ontario’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) requirement – announced on February 10 – will help reduce those emissions. Under the regulation, buildings larger than 50,000 square feet will have to feed data on their energy and water use to building owners and tenants, city planners and decision makers, making energy usage more visible. And when it’s more visible, people will be able to make more decisions to cut energy waste, energy bills, and pollution.
Ontario is following in the footsteps of four cities in the U.S. that have adopted policies for energy and water benchmarking. Los Angeles, Orlando, Denver and Evanston have all shown that similar EWRB policies prove to be an extremely low cost way to identify energy and water conservation opportunities.
Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan – a five year plan mapping the provincial path to a low-carbon future – is rolling out emission reduction programs for buildings. The information collected through EWBR will be invaluable in determining the success of these conservation and efficiency programs to reduce resource consumption and lower GHG emissions in the building sector. Data collected will also be available publically through the province’s Open Data website, guaranteeing transparency on reporting and ensuring that energy use and costs will be front of mind when building operators are looking at renovations, when tenants are signing leases, and at other opportunities to take steps to reduce energy use.
The EWBR demonstrates a solid step in the right direction for the Ontario’s building industry. Business as usual in the face of the province’s growing population would significantly hinder progress on emission reduction. As Ontario’s population and urban density increases and more buildings are constructed, the demand for greater building efficiency will grow. Tracking water and energy use will allow the province to make smart decisions about necessary investments for our low-carbon future.