Sustainable Biz Canada

Status quo for ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is still operating after U.S. legislators and President Donald Trump all approved a short-term spending measure on Monday to allow the federal government to reopen and be funded through Feb. 8.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

One way that a government shutdown has the potential to impact the real estate industry — in Canada as well as the U.S. — is via a shutdown of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is an online building benchmarking tool used to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. It was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is licensed to use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and has created a Canadian version of the tool.

Canadian ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager users

Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada’s BOMA BEST program, the Canada Green Building Council, and private and public building owners all use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for benchmarking and comparing building performance.

BOMA BEST is a sustainable building certification recognizing excellence in energy and environmental management and performance in commercial real estate.

About 2,500 buildings are enrolled at various stages of the green building registration and certification process of the program.


While BOMA Canada president and chief executive officer Benjamin Shinewald said ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager was still operating normally on Monday morning, the anticipated funding extension is still welcomed because it will ensure that continues until at least Feb. 8.

How BOMA BEST could be affected

“If operations were impacted and the BOMA BEST online portal could no longer communicate with ENERGY STAR, buildings certifying with BOMA BEST would no longer be able to retrieve their performance metrics for energy use intensity, their ENERGY STAR score or water use intensity,” said Shinewald.

“BOMA BEST awards points based on these, so BOMA Canada would have to find an alternative solution to making these calculations.”

While the version of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager licensed by the U.S. EPA to NRCan has adjusted the dataset to match Canadian performance metrics, the underlying platform is still connected to the EPA system.

That is what creates the potential challenges for Canadian ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager users.

BOMA Canada is advising its members to print or download any data associated with BOMA BEST as a precautionary measure, so it’s on file.

The U.S. federal government has shut down twice since ENERGY STAR was introduced in 1992. Shinewald said it’s possible that the program was as well, but this is the first time that BOMA Canada has been notified by NRCan that ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager could be shuttered. The building environment has changed significantly over the past few years, which makes the issue more pressing now.

“The difference today is that since the last possible occurrences, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager has taken off dramatically in Canada, including being fully integrated into BOMA BEST, and therefore the impacts would be felt much more strongly in Canada today than in the past. “

Portfolio Manager updates coming

NRCan has announced three updates to ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager that are expected to take place in early February:

* The scoring model for ENERGY STAR Score-eligible buildings will be based on 2014 Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use;
* Calculations for parking, pools and data centres will be updated;
* Source energy factors for electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, propane, steam, hot water and chilled water will be updated.

“Since BOMA BEST is fully integrated with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, these changes will impact each BOMA BEST building differently, but we expect, in general, that the impact on BOMA BEST scores will be modest,” said Shinewald.

BOMA BEST’s underlying assessment methodology will remain unchangedBuildings will continue to obtain an ENERGY STAR score based on the output from ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager at the time of BOMA BEST certification. 

About BOMA Canada

BOMA Canada is an affiliated member of BOMA International, a federation of 93 BOMA U.S. associations, BOMA Canada and its 11 regional associations and 13 BOMA international affiliates.


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Steve McLean

About the Author ()

Steve is a veteran writer, reporter, editor and communications specialist whose work has appeared in a wide variety of print and online outlets. He’s the author of the book Hot Canadian Bands and has taught reporting to college students. He is based in Toronto.

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