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Meeting Canada’s climate change targets requires a range of efforts, and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) identified a substantial opportunity to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by investing in and providing incentives for energy efficiency improvements in existing commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings.

By advancing high-performance energy efficiency through measures like recommissioning, deep retrofits, solar and renewable onsite energy systems and switching of fuel systems, leaders in the commercial real estate industry can reap benefits from energy-related cost savings as well as brand recognition for environmental stewardship. Akua Schatz, vice president, Market Engagement and Advocacy, Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), sees building energy benchmarking, reporting and disclosure as important first steps towards boosting the environmental performance of the building sector.

“Canada doesn’t have regulated energy benchmarking and labeling. As a result, we don’t have a good handle on how much energy our buildings use, which hampers our efforts to improve them,” she says, adding that the only Canadian jurisdiction that requires reporting on performance data for buildings over a certain size is Ontario.

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Ms. Schatz suggests that Canada can look to international practices for inspiration. Governments in the U.K., the U.S. and Australia, for example, are already leveraging building performance data for designing policy to improve the environmental impact.

Enabling this shift toward a more transparent marketplace are technology tools, such as the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Program, which is available through Natural Resources Canada, says Ms. Schatz. “These tools already exist and they are free of charge. We want to showcase how they can be leveraged for better outcomes to inspire faster adoption and higher data literacy.”

To advance awareness about the importance of energy benchmarking, the CaGBC has launched the Disclosure Challenge, which invites commercial real estate companies to join the efforts of gathering and disclosing building data.

“If we are serious about taking action on climate change and sustainability, the building sector has to drive change,” says Ms. Schatz. “We found that the industry sees significant value in taking this approach not only for their tenants and clients but also for meeting their ESG goals. And it makes a lot of business sense.”

Together with the partners participating in the Disclosure Challenge – QuadReal Property Group, Triovest Realty Advisors, Concert Properties, Colliers International and the Minto Group – the CaGBC is hoping to inspire action on policy and regulation that can advance data collection and transparency in the building industry, adds Ms. Schatz.

Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s Editorial Department was not involved in its creation.

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