When the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) announces the results this month of its one-year disclosure challenge to Canadian building owners that provides data on their energy consumption and carbon footprints, one thing will be clear.
For most owners, accessing that data was difficult.
Conducted from 2019 to 2020, the study included about eight per cent of Canada’s buildings over 25,000 square feet. It illustrates the need for standardization of data for easy access, giving owners an accurate measure of their building performance and how to proceed with deep carbon retrofits.
Standardization of data was a common theme at a panel session during the CaGBC’s conference Building Lasting Change held recently in Toronto.
“We’re all struggling to get that at any level,” moderator Brent Gilmour, chief commercial officer with the CaGBC, said.
Panellist Chris Pyke, a senior vice-president of Arc Skoru Inc., said part of the challenge is determining factors controlling energy consumption, including such “independent variables” as property shape, size, location, climate, weather, load and occupancy.
“I need to link up those independent variables at the same time as the dependent variable (energy consumption),” he said.
Too often the two are not in sync.
Affiliated with Green Business Certification, Inc. and the U.S. Green Building Council, Arc Skoru has developed a performance platform to help create better buildings for occupants and the environment.
Levi Higgs, energy and sustainability manager of Colliers International, said accessing data on a “whole building,” that can be examined quickly is critical.
“I want a profile of a building that I can pull up on a yearly basis that can be updated.”
Pyke pointed out the industry has to “raise expectations for the quality and currency of data.”
It is not enough for owners to simply have “one piece of data” such as LEED certification.
It also is not enough for the industry to collect data based solely on annual or even monthly performances anymore.
For the data to have real value there has to be an ability to collect it hourly and even minute-by-minute “because that is where the real connection between the indoor and the outdoor environment lives.”
To meet energy and carbon targets the idea of creating digital twins to aggregate and interpret data was discussed at the seminar. Digital twinning involves putting all of a building’s data points into one dashboard platform.
By changing some of the data – say to the building envelope – the effect on other building systems can be determined in real time prior to making physical changes to the building, an audience member told the seminar. Ideally, digital twins would be integrated at the BIM stage of a building design.
Panellist Daniele Magditsch, sustainability manager with QuadReal Property, shared the thoughts of others at the session that because not all data is easily aggregated, emphasis should be on collecting critical data to building performance.
At QuadReal, like many companies, the decarbonization transformation is only beginning. For the property company the first step is establishing an inventory of its natural gas equipment for all of its buildings, followed by collecting data, time of use and asset plans for each building.
Hugh Lindsay from Schneider Electric Canada told the audience money could be the motivator for a quicker shift to a carbon transformation.
By example, he said for about two years Schneider Electric has been working with J.P. Morgan which has a consortium that it is leveraging to create a carbon trading market. Through an investment in large-scale solar farms, the U.S. banking giant is converting every renewable kilowatt hour into renewable credit for that trading market.
“They also want to apply this to the buildings they have…to trace the amount of carbon and energy in their buildings,” Lindsay said. “To do that, they are going to have to get data from their buildings.”