CIET has worked with several municipalities on initiatives that aim to support building owners and operators to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions in their facilities and across building portfolios. Using some targeted and customized training and capacity-building programs, we’ve been able to help identify opportunities, quantify savings, and develop business cases.

The municipalities and their programs vary in size, goals and scope, but one thing they have in common is that they are all voluntary-based programs that are dependent on organizations and institutions stepping up to invest in reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions. According to Olivier Cappon, Senior Director at CIET, these programs continue to produce good results and increased participation year over year as the participants realize the value of these programs, namely:

  • Increase competitiveness
  • Lower operations costs through energy savings
  • Increase value of assets and building portfolios
  • Reduce emissions and contribute to climate change mitigation


One example of a municipality CIET has been working with is the City of Ottawa.


The Better Buildings Ottawa Strategy is part of the City of Ottawa’s Energy Evolution Strategy, and is aimed at supporting private owners of large commercial and multi-unit properties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the Better Buildings Ottawa strategy, the Benchmarking and Auditing program has an essential first step in providing support to property owners to baseline their energy consumption and buildings’ emissions.

Marie Hanchet - Better Buildings Ottawa logo

Today, we’re uncovering an inside perspective of Better Buildings Ottawa with Marie Hanchet, Project Manager, Climate Change and Resiliency at the City of Ottawa. We have the privilege of discussing the program and its participants, milestones that have been achieved, and the pivotal role that training has played. 


Who has benefitted from the Better Buildings Ottawa Strategy?

The City of Ottawa is working directly with private building owners and managers on this initiative. This includes non-profit housing, faith communities, commercial office buildings, and condos; often considered a challenging building type.

“What I usually tell potential participants is this is about 10 minutes of additional work after meeting the EWRB regulatory requirement. Here in Ontario, all buildings over 50,000 sqft are required to annually disclose their performance data to the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. What we have in Ottawa is a voluntary program to use that exact same system to share that same data with the City of Ottawa in exchange for program perks.  This means building performance data becomes public on a map and we offer free training, access to special funded pilot projects, insights reports on building performance, and discounts on local networking events & services like thermal scanning of buildings.”


Noteworthy successes from the Better Buildings Ottawa program

The program is still quite new having been around for about 18 months. In the 13 months that Marie has been on the project, she has seen it double in unique building owner participants and has managed the program to evolve to start offering some specialized perks.

"What’s been extremely rewarding for me is onboarding condos by recognizing their current struggles. Things like installing EV charging equipment in condos can be very challenging once the technical specs, financial considerations, and condo by-laws are all taken into account. This is at the intersection of buildings & transportation, but incredibly important to the condos, so we’ve created a new special offer for condos in our program to access a customized EV charging assessment through a nonprofit that specializes in EV charging and has agreed to meetings with the condo boards, condo owners, condo managers, and to write up summaries of the findings from the 10 buildings. It’s not part of the building’s GHG emissions, but it’s something the building owners can do to enable their residents to reduce transportation GHGs. I can’t wait to find more opportunities like this."


Exploring the role of training in the program's positive outcomes

CIET has been involved in the Better Buildings Ottawa program as a provider of training aimed at helping participating organization reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions. The primary programs delivered are:

"I am frequently talking to building owners, operators, asset managers, and the consultants that support them to hear their needs.
Training workshops for buildings operators makes the most sense as a starting point because it is no-cost. As we work on decarbonization, there are so many concerns from different stakeholders about making capital investments out of order, like perhaps replacing the mechanical system before addressing the envelope then having oversized equipment. Asset management plans just don’t always line up with the ideal process for reducing GHGs significantly. However, focusing first on operational improvements and empowering building operators to look for opportunities doesn’t create that issue; it results in more empowered employees whose jobs now have an impact on the organizational bottom line and environment."


Using key findings to bridge the capacity gap

Members of the Better Buildings Ottawa program have used the Energy Hunt activity in their Energy Efficiency for Building Operators and Maintenance Staff (EEBO) training to identify key savings opportunities in their facilities. This is an extremely hands-on activity that takes participants into an examination of day-to-day operations of a building. Energy savings opportunities found during the Energy Hunt are then used to teach participants how to conduct energy savings calculations.

Marie talked about the potential to overcome capacity limitations by sharing key savings opportunities

“We can’t do an energy treasure hunt in each building in Ottawa, but we can communicate the most common opportunities for energy and GHG savings across the building operator network."


Learn more about Better Buildings Ottawa

Better Buildings Ottawa Logo

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