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Best Practices Guide for School Facility Managers

Best Practices Guide for School Facility Managers

Please note: This publication may refer to programs that are no longer available. For current information, please visit ecoENERGY or contact us.

Table of Contents

Section 1. The Benefits of Good Energy Management

Section 2. Managing Energy in Schools

Section 3. Improving Energy Efficiency

Section 4. Renewable Energy Sources

Section 5. Energy Efficiency Programs and Other Resources

Best Practices Guide for School Facility Managers is part of a pilot energy benchmarking and best practices program for the school sector. This Guide, which should be used in conjunction with Benchmarking Guide for School Facility Managers, was developed to help facility managers in the school sector to plan an energy management campaign. It includes tips on opportunities for energy savings and their potential economic returns. Best practices often result in benchmarks. Schools can emulate other organizations that incorporate best practices in an effort to lower their own costs.

Benchmarking Guide for School Facility Managers states that energy performance at or below the average (either below the regression line or the average equation, i.e., ekWh/m2) may be showing "good practice," and those with performance 25 percent or more below average could fall in the "best practice" category. Best and good practices may be obtained using the information provided in this Guide. Therefore, by benchmarking energy performances, you can determine where there are opportunities for cost savings. If such opportunities exist, this Guide will provide you with ideas on how to best maximize savings or increase already existing savings.

Section 1. The Benefits of Good Energy Management

Good energy management avoids unnecessary costs. This Guide will help facility managers avoid overspending by identifying waste and provide tips on the following:

  • reducing consumption through good management practices;
  • reducing the unit price of energy;
  • achieving better value for money; and
  • comparing consumption and cost with similar schools.

Good energy management also improves the local and national environment by reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that result from energy use.

1.1 Benefits to Schools

Energy costs are, to a large extent, manageable. Prudent schools are saving significant financial resources by avoiding energy costs. Practising good energy management also has the following benefits:

  • avoids energy costs to help provide more funds for books and equipment;
  • provides valuable curriculum opportunities;
  • strengthens quality management; and
  • increases physical comfort levels.

By managing energy more effectively, many schools can reduce their energy costs by 15 to 20 percent. Energy waste results from inefficient plant operations, poor controls, poor energy awareness and poor or outdated practices. Canadian schools spend about $500 million annually on energy; avoiding unnecessary costs could reduce national energy costs by approximately $75 million per year.

1.2 The Environmental Picture

In 1992, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, the nations of the world signed up for Agenda 21, an agenda for the 21st century. In Chapter 28 of the Agenda, local communities are encouraged to adopt the principles of sustainable development. Each school should do its part to help achieve these goals.

At the Kyoto Climate Summit in 1997, attendees agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. Based on its 1990 levels of consumption, Canada set a target of a 6 percent reduction, representing 36 M tonnes of CO2emissions.

Section 2. Managing Energy in Schools

Good energy management ensures that energy use and energy costs are as low as possible and that standards of comfort and service are maintained or improved. A combined approach generates commitment at all levels to reduce costs and pollution. Figure 1 outlines a strategic approach to involve the whole school in energy management. A workshop offered by Natural Resources Canada's (NRCan's) Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE), "Dollars to $ense: The Energy Master Plan," also offers how-to guidance.

Developing an explicit policy forms an essential part of raising the profile of energy use in schools. A comprehensive policy should include the following:

  • a statement of commitment;
  • an outline of objectives;
  • an energy management action plan or master plan;
  • agreed-upon targets for energy consumption and costs;
  • a policy review process; and
  • the responsibilities and resources necessary to make the action plan happen.

An effective energy management program should involve the entire school population. However, someone must coordinate central activities such as data collection and communications. This role may fall to the premises manager or physical plant manager. During initial development, teaching and non-teaching staff should be consulted in order to obtain commitment. In addition, ideas from pupils could be useful, and their involvement should be encouraged. An initial one-year plan for resource management should outline objectives, identify responsibilities and resources available and highlight the review process. Publicity and promotion of the policy throughout the school should ensure wide commitment.

In the planning framework, set preliminary goals, collect base data, design a tracking system, spot low-cost opportunities and plan project implementation. Then take action and start working on a longer-term plan. Remember to publicize and promote the policy throughout the school.

Getting started also involves seeing how the school is presently performing. Benchmarking Guide for School Facility Managers will help identify current performance, and how it compares with other similar schools. It also indicates what energy costs could be avoided by adopting "good practice." The first step is to review your current energy management and answer the questions of how is it done, what policies are in place, what information is collected regularly and who is responsible.

Figure 1. Strategic Approach to Energy Management in Schools

2.1 The Energy Management Matrix

An energy management matrix is a tool to establish your current situation. The matrix (see Table 1) will provide you with the overall position of energy management within your school. It comprises six columns, each of which covers a key area in management, and five rows that represent increasing levels of achievement to identify where your school stands.

Complete the matrix by making a cross in each of the columns at the point where you feel present practices at the school best fits on each issue. Join the crosses to form your profile, which will highlight areas that need the most attention. Aim to climb the matrix in a balanced fashion, i.e., do not commit all your efforts to one particular area. Ask others within the school to complete the matrix from their perspectives - this may ensure a wider view. The OEE's "Dollars to $ense: The Energy Master Plan" workshop takes a similar approach.

Table 1. Energy Management Matrix

2.2 Developing the Energy Master Plan (or Energy Management Action Plan)

A master plan helps focus activities and gain commitment. Guidelines and templates are available from the OEE to help schools complete action plans. An officer from the OEE's Energy Innovators Initiative can also help schools develop their plans. Here are some tips to start the campaign once the energy coordinator has been appointed.

  1. Make sure that energy data are collected regularly -weekly or monthly - to correspond with utility meter readings and/or fuel deliveries.

  2. Update records and profile the school energy performance over 12 months. Compare these figures with benchmark values.

  3. Check energy bills for the last year. Are the correct rates being charged?

  4. Set up a winning team to oversee the campaign, encourage motivation and maintain progress. Choose members from all areas - teaching and non-teaching staff and students.

  5. Start regular walk-through tours (see Section 2.4).

  6. Agree upon good housekeeping measures room by room, and explain them to teaching and administrative/support staff and students.

  7. Update lists of items that need maintenance, servicing, repair or replacement.

  8. Set priorities for investment. Where there are plans for building retrofits, incorporate energy-saving measures at little extra cost.

  9. Have teaching staff and students nominate energy monitors to switch off lights, etc.

  10. Talk to teaching staff about direct involvement of older students through curriculum projects.

  11. Keep people informed on progress. Give staff and students regular feedback through newsletters, posters and other communications items.

  12. Set targets for energy cost savings and/or CO2 savings. Compare overall performance with best practice benchmarks.

  13. Set up regular and continuous staff training.

Rocky View School Division No. 41 in Calgary, Alberta, has attained VCR Inc.'s Gold Level Champion status in the school sector. The board has embarked on an aggressive energy efficiency program that incorporates leading-edge technologies with reduced energy consumption. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions figures are a key component of the board's energy management action plan. It was estimated that by 2001 its annual CO2emissions will be reduced from 1990 levels by 705 tonnes or 40 percent.

2.3 Energy Monitoring and Tracking

An effective monitoring and tracking system can help to achieve the following:

  • collect data from meters and utility bills;
  • continually analyse energy and water consumption;
  • include observations from students' surveys or walk-through tours;
  • help identify problems;
  • detect discrepancies in billing;
  • analyse energy performance from indices; and
  • set targets for the following year.

Outputs from the system can demonstrate specific successes to encourage building users and provide evidence for decision making and future planning for the school.

The OEE's "Dollars to $ense: Energy Monitoring and Tracking" workshop provides how-to guidance on monitoring and tracking your energy use.

2.4 Conducting a Walk-Through Energy Audit

A simple inspection of the school premises can reveal where excess energy use can be avoided.

What is a Walk-Through Energy Audit?

A walk-through energy audit is a tour of school premises to inspect its energy-usage practices. Adapt a checklist, similar to the list in Table 2, to make an organized and thorough inspection of each room and circulation area. Note the following:

  • where energy is being wasted (i.e., where good housekeeping practices are not being followed);
  • where repair or maintenance work is needed; and
  • where capital investment is needed to improve energy efficiency.

When Should You Do a Walk-Through Energy Audit?

Aim to audit your school at least twice a year - before the start of the heating season and at the end. If possible, tour more often, e.g., once a month during the heating season. Stagger the times of inspections - at lunchtime, at the close of the school day, during cleaning periods or evening use, on the weekend and even during holidays.

What Should You Look For?

First, draw a simple block plan of your school. Mark how the school is divided up in zones for heating and lighting. As you make your tour, identify the position of the following:

  • the school's boiler room;
  • all gas, electricity and water meters, on/off valves and stop controls;
  • fuel storage tanks and their contents gauges;
  • any zone controls or switches for heating and lighting; and
  • all boiler controls, time clocks and thermostats.

Use this plan to familiarize members of your team on how the school is heated, lighted and ventilated, and the location of any major items of equipment that consume energy. This is useful because it will allow staff to have a better knowledge of the school.

Have members of the team read each type of meter you have. Read these regularly (once a week). In addition, try reading them the last thing after school on Friday and then again before school on Monday to discover how much of your consumption is occurring while the school is unoccupied. Include all heated and lighted spaces, not just classrooms.

For more information on auditing, see the OEE's series of publications on energy management (see Section 5 for details).

Table 2. The Good Housekeeping Checklist

2.5 Energy Purchasing

The energy management team has a key role in buying energy. As utility markets open up, there are new opportunities to obtain more competitive rates and alternate programs from a wider range of suppliers. Knowing where you stand through an effective monitoring and tracking system will help school board staff negotiate the best deals. Sensible planning of plant usage can open up time-of-day price options. Investigate adjusting timetables or delaying plant start-up to avoid expensive peak periods.

2.6 Equipment Purchasing

The energy management team should also become involved in purchasing decisions for all sites' fixed and portable equipment. Choosing computer equipment should not rely on IT performance only - look at the energy consumption data and choose appliances that have an ENERGY STAR® label. Look at life-cycle costs for refrigerators, TVs, VCRs, etc. when ordering - not just the purchase price.

The increasing use of personal computers in all areas of teaching and leisure is leading to intense growth in electricity consumption for many schools. With plug-in equipment, controlling energy costs in low- or medium-power electricity circuits becomes almost impossible. A practical approach involves careful scheduling of usage and maintaining an effective purchasing policy. Match computer power to needs and select equipment with energy efficiency features. Energy costs can vary between $4.50 per year for a laptop unit to $185.00 per year for a high-end unit that runs continually.

2.7 Communications

Communication is important in any energy efficiency program. Effective communication alerts senior management to problems and relays progress and success to the school population to reinforce motivation. Try the following ideas:

  • feedback through newsletter stories;
  • posters and stickers;
  • an energy notice board;
  • a system to encourage and collect suggestions;
  • student contests to generate innovative ideas;
  • incentives to encourage good housekeeping practices; and
  • curriculum projects related to energy efficiency or climate change.

Pictures and other graphics quickly get the message across. With a suggestion-collection system, it is important that ideas are acted upon or are seen to be considered carefully.

Section 3. Improving Energy

Benchmarking of performance will indicate what energy costs could be avoided by bringing energy management up to the good practice level. Alongside monitoring and tracking and good housekeeping, an improvement program may be needed. For each type of measure and its application, the energy avoidance and investment will vary and give an individual payback period. Simple low-cost, short-payback measures quickly generate funds for further improvements and promote confidence to invest in larger projects.

3.1 Best Practice

In any benchmark comparison, schools with energy consumption at or near the minimum could be considered as applying current best practice. Standards are continually improving, however, and future benchmarks should be lower. Under the OEE's Commercial Building Incentive Program (CBIP), a proposed "best practice" building must meet the requirements of the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB) and be at least 25 percent more energy efficient when compared to a reference design that just meets the MNECB requirements. Guidance in assessing energy performance is also available from the relevant standards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Saving fossil fuel use and reducing CO2emissions by implementing renewable energy projects is another route to best practice energy performance. School boards can also consider biomass heating, wind generation and passive and active solar energy (see Section 4).

Halton Catholic District School Board: Despite increased enrolment, floor area and utility costs, Halton Catholic District School Board has managed to reduce its energy costs substantially since 1993. These savings were accomplished through an awareness program and by installing T-8 lighting, an energy management system and automatic devices to reduce water usage and sewage processing. The board received funding through the OEE's CBIP, which means that the board's facilities are more energy efficient than a similar building built to meet MNECB requirements.

3.2 Good Practice

Benchmarking of performance will indicate what energy costs could be avoided by bringing energy management up to the good practice level. Simple energy management measures can achieve excellent results.

Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board: In 1997, the Utility Review Board dropped minimum billing for Nova Scotia Power with demand and consumption charged on meter readings only. By carefully analysing electricity bills and tracking performance, this regional school board avoided $100,000 of electrical costs for the 1998 summer period.

Schools are also actively participating in the OEE's Energy Innovators Initiative. Action plans include details of existing measures and future plans. The most common measures in school action plans are lighting upgrades, energy management controls, boiler improvements and energy-efficient motors. Some schools are also introducing improvements to the building envelope.

Agassiz School Division No. 13: The Board of Trustees of Agassiz School Division in Manitoba approved an energy audit of all its facilities to determine opportunities to reduce energy costs. With a $167,920 contribution from NRCan, the board is undertaking an overall lighting retrofit, the installation of computerized control systems, non-computerized control upgrades and building envelope improvements. The project's cost is about $984,000 and is expected to save approximately $83,500 per year.

3.3 Seasonal Tips for Good Practices

To achieve and maintain good or best practices, schools must implement effective energy management alongside specific improvement projects. In addition to establishing a master plan, good housekeeping measures should be regularly maintained. Tasks vary with the time of year. Here are some seasonal tips to help schools plan their campaign throughout the year.


  • Adjust heating systems to ensure that overheating does not occur.
  • Check that the warm-up period of your building is shorter than in winter.
  • Check if heating is turned off earlier in the day.
  • Reset time switches for daylight-saving time.


When premises are closed, ensure that all non-essential heating, ventilation and lighting systems are switched off. This can be checked by reading meters during empty periods. Plan ahead for energy-efficient operation prior to the heating season, and ensure that boilers are serviced and that pumps are checked. Fan convector filters should also be cleaned. In addition, check the following:

  • external envelope of the building should be free of damage that could result in heat loss;
  • roof space insulation should be in place and be of the current recommended thickness;
  • external doors should fit and close properly, and door-closers should be operating effectively;
  • effective weatherstripping should be fitted to all external doors and windows; and
  • all windows should fit and close properly, and any damaged handles and latches should be repaired.


  • Check timers, including resetting when daylight-saving time ends.
  • Turn on the heating only when it is needed.
  • With the heating on, check that room temperatures are at the minimum required for comfort with no over-heating.
  • Check that buildings are at the correct temperature during occupancy only.
  • Avoid heating the whole building when only security staff is occupying the building.


  • Ensure that buildings are correctly heated and lighted only when required.
  • Ensure proper control of supplementary portable heaters.
  • Label light switches to ensure that only necessary lights are turned on.
  • Check that security lighting comes on only when darkness approaches.
  • Check that controls permit different weekend settings.
  • During holidays, check that minimum essential services operate correctly.
  • Check that heating system controls respond to changes in weather.
  • Ensure that cleaning staff use minimum lighting to work effectively and permit safe movement.


  • When adjusting heating temperatures and lighting levels in teaching and working spaces, make certain that health and safety requirements are fully met.
  • ASHRAE standards also provide guidance on suitable seasonal temperatures for comfort purposes.

3.4 Energy Efficiency Measures

Energy is used to provide a safe and comfortable working environment by means of heating, cooling, lighting, domestic water and small power services. Improving efficiency involves improving energy consumption and providing effective control of building services. Costs, savings and payback periods are given on the facing page for a range of possible improvement measures.


The cost, savings and payback figures quoted are typical values derived from information submitted to the OEE on completed projects. Costs, savings and paybacks can vary significantly, depending on the individual circumstances. Therefore, these are rough estimates and should be used only as a reference.

HVAC Systems

Heating Systems

Heating is generally provided by steam or hot water boilers, fired by gas or oil, supplying primary and secondary heating systems to radiators, convector heaters or other heating outlets. Alternative fuels - e.g., coal or liquefied petroleum gas, such as propane - are also in use. Direct-fired radiant and convective heating appliances are fitted in some buildings, e.g., in workshops or gymnasiums. Direct electric heating has been installed where low-cost renewable electricity supplies are available. Improvement involves boiler efficiency, burner controls and pump/fan efficiency in addition to room temperature control.

Ventilation and Air Conditioning

Mechanically driven cooling systems are installed to provide a safe and comfortable environment in areas where natural ventilation is unable to provide sufficient airflow or space cooling. Ventilation systems range from centrally installed air-handling units to locally mounted supply or extract fans. Proven efficiency improvements include more accurate controls for space and system temperatures and variable air volume systems. Variable speed drives on large fan motors and heat recovery systems also improve control. Annual energy consumption for ventilation can range from 100 to 250 kWh per person. Installation of central ventilation can cost $1.2 million; a heat recovery system can cost between $10,000 and $15,000 and can save $10,000 per year. Ventilation to gymnasiums is often provided by separate air-handling units. In these cases, schools can install CO2 sensors and occupancy sensors to control gym dampers.

Where fitted, air conditioning comes in two principal forms - centrally installed refrigeration chillers, which supply chilled water to local cooling outlets, and locally mounted direct expansion package units. Proven efficiency improvements include more accurate controls and variable speed drives on chilled water pumps and large fan motors. When replacing chillers that have CFC as the refrigerant, consider opportunities for efficiency improvements. Typical consumption for cooling is about 35 kWh/m2.

Ground-source heat pumps are becoming very popular in the school sector because of their significant economic and environmental benefits. During the winter, heat from the ground is extracted to provide heat to the building, whereas during the summer, heat pumps use the cool ground to air-condition the building. Ground-source heat pumps can reduce energy consumption by more than 35 percent. The implementation of a heat pump can cost between $300,000 and $600,000, or about $25/m2.

At École professionnelle de Saint-Hyacinthe, ground-source heat pumps reduced consumption by 40 percent and saved $4/m2 or $41,000 in annual expenditures (CADDET Result Brochure 289) with a payback period of 8.5 years.

In addition, cooling loads can be decreased by retrofitting schools' roofs with light-coloured roof coatings. By doing this, the energy consumption used for cooling can be reduced by about 10 percent.

Large motors with running currents of 5 kW often are oversized for the need of the task. Peak running currents on motors over 5 kW should be measured. The motor should be replaced if it is operating at less than 50 percent of the nameplate rating.

Energy Efficiency Measures


Upgrades to improve lamp efficiency involve replacing incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent units and replacing older fluorescent lighting with low-wattage tubes that are fitted with electronic ballasts. High-pressure sodium lamps with maximum lamp efficiency can be installed in some interior locations where accurate colour rendering is not essential, such as in hallways or stairwells. Exterior and security lighting can also be converted to high-pressure sodium and exit signs to light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Lighting controls, which include installation of photoelectric sensors on perimeter lighting and occupancy controls on room and corridor lighting, reduce energy consumption when areas are unoccupied.

Saskatoon (West) School Division: Lighting improvements are being implemented at 12 schools and one school board office. Measures include disconnecting unnecessary lamps and replacing inefficient incandescent and fluorescent lighting with high-frequency T-8 fluorescent tubes that have electronic ballasts in modern fittings. Paybacks on these lighting upgrades range from 4.5 to 9 years.

Energy Management and Controls

Energy management measures being adopted by schools include monitoring and tracking (M&T), metering and education. M&T can include overall examination of site services and/or detailed monitoring of key systems. Schools are also implementing energy management controls that range from full building automation to individual room control.

Installing an energy management system (EMS) or a building automation system (BAS) is one of the most effective energy efficiency initiatives that a school can implement. Such systems can optimize virtually all systems that use energy (except for the building envelope). The computerized systems are programmed to monitor all tuning, timing and temperature-setting aspects. Although BAS systems are effective, they often become outdated or are improperly used; they should be updated and serviced regularly. The school operator should understand the system's logic and monitor abnormalities, fine tuning and override functions. Historical data should also be obtained. In order to operate these systems, staff should be properly trained. A proper EMS can avoid energy consumption and costs by 15 to 25 percent.

Energy Efficiency Measures

Energy Efficiency Measures

The Halton Catholic District School Board initiated the “Save and Value Earth Resources” (SAVER) awareness program. SAVER is designed to focus on environmental issues to create awareness among staff and students. The hope is to make clear the connection between environment, ecology and economics.

Building Envelope Measures

Many schools are also implementing improvements to the building envelope. Wall glazing can be added to the building exteriors to maintain a minimum 0.65 cfm/sq. ft. airflow rate. Other initiatives include replacing singleglazed windows with low-impact, high-performance glazing systems; installing exterior light shelves to use daylight more effectively; and upgrading insulation and weatherstripping. The most common and one of the easiest measures to implement is weatherstripping. Typical weatherstripping costs can range between $500 and $4,000, and savings of $50 to $250 per year can be expected. Another opportunity is to consider installing suspended ceilings, which reduce the volume of air that needs to be heated and which provide additional insulation against heat loss. In addition, insulation can be applied to uninstalled loft areas.

3.5 Investing in Energy Efficiency

Major projects need careful evaluation and planning. The OEE's Energy Innovators Initiative can help set up a structured investment program to get the best returns from a package of measures. Schools that implement energy efficiency projects can save 15-20 percent or more of their energy costs. School boards are introducing packages of measures in comprehensive programs. Some are also taking advantage of utility support programs and performance contracting to finance these investments. Projects with low or no payback periods help finance longer-term measures. Examples include the following:

The Ottawa Board of Education (OBE), now part of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, has undertaken a “Step-by-Step” program throughout its facilities. Measures include boiler and lighting replacement, building automation and the installation of water-saving devices. The board has reduced its energy consumption by 24 percent, cut energy costs by 30 percent and lessened water consumption by 49 percent. Overall savings exceed $1.8 million per year with an investment of only $500,000. CADDET Result Brochure 329.

The Toronto District School Board No. 12 is undertaking the largest energy conservation program in North America to extend the useful life of 600 schools. Measures include lighting upgrades, building automation, water conservation, HVAC installation and taking advantage of other fuel conservation opportunities. On completion of Phase 4, it is anticipated that energy costs will be reduced by $16 million per year. By then, total investment will amount to $180 million. CADDET Result Brochure 346.

Seven Oaks School Division No. 10 in Manitoba, undertook a pilot project in three of its schools. Measures include lighting upgrades, HVAC upgrades (by installing economizers, load controls and control systems), weatherization of buildings and awareness training for staff and students. The project is expected to reduce energy consumption by 22 percent and save the school board more than $26,000 a year. The replication of the pilot project is expected to cost $596,700 and produce energy savings of 20 percent and annual cost savings of more than $50,000.

Northern Gateway Regional School Division No. 10 in Alberta recently undertook a pilot project. Measures included replacing T-12 lights with T-8 fluorescent lamps that have electronic ballasts, converting exit signs to use LEDs, replacing metal halide fixtures with fluorescent lights, installing HVAC systems, turning off HVAC during evenings and weekends, installing a direct digital control system and starting an awareness programs for students, faculty and custodial staff and maintenance staff training. NRCan covered 22 percent of the board's investment of more than $600,000. The pilot project is expected to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent and costs by $30,193.

Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest (CSDCSO): This newly created French language public board in Ontario has some electrical and mechanical systems dating back 69 years. It was estimated that a $10-million investment would be necessary to update the buildings over the next five years. However, opportunities to save money were discovered by the CSDCSO management team. By improving energy and water efficiency, energy consumption could be reduced by 20 percent. A project, partially funded by NRCan, is expected to save CSDCSO $186,600 annually, which can be used toward the necessary building improvements.

The OEE's "Dollars to $ense" workshops help energy users spot low-cost savings opportunities. Following are some typical proven measures with their respective payback periods:

No Cost and Low Cost (Payback Period of Less than Two Years)

  • Re-commission optimizer and heating controls.
  • Check that boiler air-fuel ratio is correct (as part of regular maintenance).
  • Fit boiler sequence controls.
  • Repair leaks on distribution mains.
  • Control use of supplementary heaters.
  • Install, repair or replace thermostats.
  • Insulate domestic water heater.
  • Provide improved controls for stand-alone heaters.
  • Reset domestic hot water thermostat and time switches and make them tamper-proof.
  • Seal unused chimneys and ventilation stacks.
  • Fit reflective foil behind radiators.
  • Replace tungsten lighting with compact fluorescent lamps.

Success with these basic measures should provide the confidence to undertake more ambitious projects. Following are some investments that have a medium-to longer-term payback period:

Medium Cost (Payback Period of Two to Five Years)

  • Update boiler controls, including flue gas monitoring and burner control.
  • Improve/repair thermal insulation on the boiler.
  • Fit optimum start and externally compensated control of heating.
  • Install a building automation system.
  • Install dual fuel burners to boilers (depending on supplies).
  • Insulate heating system pipework.
  • Fit timers to hot water immersion heaters.
  • Replace central hot water production with point-of-use devices.
  • Fit thermostatic radiator valves.
  • Fit timers to fan heaters.
  • Replace on-peak electric heaters with off-peak storage.

High Cost (Payback Period of Five to 10 Years)

  • Revise and improve zoning of the heating system.
  • Install new condensing boiler.
  • Replace electric (storage) heaters with gas-fired heaters.
  • Improve controls to storage radiators.
  • Fit self-closing devices to external doors.
  • Weatherstrip external doors and windows.
  • Insulate roof spaces to current standards.
  • Install cavity wall insulation.
  • Replace electric water heaters with gas-fired heaters.
  • Install lobby to main entrance.
  • Install occupancy sensors to control lighting.
  • Replace old fluorescent fittings with modern, efficient units.

Section 4. Renewable Energy Sources

Investment in renewable energy sources (RES) can also bring about significant reductions in CO2 emissions. At present, most RES technologies will generally fall into the high-cost category, but school boards may wish to consider the following:

  • Biomass heating - Use available biomass sources such as forest residue, energy crops, waste combustion or landfill gas as a fuel source for heating boilers and/or a combined heat and power plant.
  • Wind generation - Generate power by means of site-mounted wind turbines or from an adjacent wind farm.
  • Passive solar design - Use building designs that optimize the available solar energy for heating and improving daylight provision in winter and mid-seasons and reduce excess solar gain in summer.
  • Active solar energy - Incorporate solar thermal water heating panels and/or photovoltaic (PV) modules into the envelope design as appropriate. PV panels can be integrated into the building façade.
  • Ground-source heat pumps - Use available energy from geothermal ground sources as the input energy to a heat pump system.

For more information on renewable energy, see Section 5.

Section 5. Energy Efficiency Programs and Other Resources

Office of Energy Efficiency and Other NRCan Resources

  • Benchmarking Guide for School Facility Managers

  • Benchmarking Guide for School Finance Officers

  • "Dollars to $ense" workshops:

    • The Energy Master Plan
    • Energy Monitoring and Tracking
    • Spot the Energy Savings Opportunities
  • Energy Management Action Plan Template and Guidelines

  • "CO2 Calculations (Version 2)" spreadsheet

  • Commercial Building Incentive Program (CBIP) and Commercial Building Incentive Program Technical Guidelines, which refer to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB) (see Web site at /cbip)

  • The MNECB and Performance Compliance for Buildings are available from the Institute for Research in Construction of the National Research Council Canada. To order, call 1 800 672-7990 (toll-free) or, in the National Capital Region, call (613) 993-2463 or fax (613) 952-7673.

  • Canada's Emissions Outlook: An Update

  • Energy Management Series:

    • Conducting an Energy Audit

    • Measuring, Metering and Monitoring

    • many other technical guides

  • For information on renewable energy, including the Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative (REDI), see Web site at

These resources, as well as other publications, are available through the Energy Innovators Initiative of NRCan's OEE at the following:

Other Publications and Resources

  • Canadian School Boards Association
    Chris Noyes, Project Co-ordinator
    Tel.: (613) 235-3724
    Fax: (613) 238-0434
  • Agence de l'efficacité énergétique
    Luc Lamontagne, Analyste
    Tel.: (418) 627-6739, ext. 8032
    Fax: (418) 643-5828
  • Canada's Climate Change Voluntary Challenge and Registry Inc. (VCR Inc.)
    Tel.: (613) 565-5151
    Fax: (613) 565-5743
    Web site:
  • ÉcoGESte
    Roberte Robert, ing.,
    Directrice du Programme ÉcoGESte
    Bureau d'enregistrement des mesures volontaires sur les changements climatiques
    Tel.: (418) 521-3950, ext. 4907
    Fax: (418) 646-4320
  • Centre for the Analysis and Dissemination of Demonstrated Energy Technologies (CADDET). This organization is an initiative of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
    Michel Lamanque
    CADDET Technology Coordinator Natural Resources Canada
    Tel.: (613) 947-3812
    Fax: (613) 947-1016

You can find other buildings publications from the Office of Energy Efficiency. To order paper copies, or to discuss how we can help you make your property more energy efficient, please contact us.

Buildings Division
Office of Energy Efficiency
Natural Resources Canada
580 Booth Street, 18th floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0E4
Tel.: 877-360-5500 (toll free)
Fax: 613-947-4121

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