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ARCHIVED - Step 2: Compare With Other Facilities

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Benchmarking is the practice of comparing your operation's energy consumption with that of similar facilities. Factors such as the building age and the number of "degree-days" in your region (a measurement of the energy required to heat or cool your facility to maintain a comfortable temperature) may differ. However, if you compare these figures with your calculations from Step 1, you should get a good idea of your energy performance.

Please note: Food retailers usually have higher energy uses due to refrigeration and food preparation costs, so if your big-box or department store also has a restaurant or grocery section, you can expect to have higher energy costs. Restaurants, for example, often have energy intensities as high as 10 GJ/m2. Stores with lighting, appliance or home-entertainment sections will likely have higher consumptions if display units are left on all day. Large hardware and do-it-yourself stores will also likely have higher energy consumption, due to additional motors and wood-cutting equipment.

We can use the table on page 13 to compare the department store example described in Step 1 – a 14 000-m2 non-food big box. Its energy use was calculated at 1.17 GJ/m2 per year. The table shows that our example store is within the typical annual energy-consumption range compared with similar stores.


Typical energy costs in the retail industry range from $20/m2 to $52/m2. Although it may be tempting to measure energy performance in dollars, utility prices can vary from day to day, and those used to calculate the national averages in the tables on pages 13 and 14 likely differ from prices in your area. So while it is wise to track energy prices closely, the performance measure that truly responds to changes in technology, behaviour and procedures is consumption. When benchmarking, gigajoules – not dollars – really count.


Table 1. Retail and Shopping Centres: Energy Use and Intensities
and Malls
Non-Food Retailers 0.8-1.0 GJ/m2 0.9 GJ/m2
Non-Food Big Box 0.6-1.8 GJ/m2 1.1 GJ/m2
Food Retailers 2.5-3.4 GJ/m2 2.8 GJ/m2
Shopping Malls
1.2-1.4 GJ/m2 1.4 GJ/m2
Strip Malls 1.2-1.9 GJ/m2 1.2 GJ/m2
Total 0.8-3.4 GJ/m2 1.5 GJ/m2

*Benchmarking figures from Roche lte based on various sources.

These Web sites will help you compare your retail facilities with those in other countries:

ENERGY STAR®'s Energy Benchmarking for Supermarkets and Grocery Stores at

Cal-Arch California Building Energy Reference Tool at

Table 2. Retail and Shopping Centres:
CIBEUS Gross Annual Average Energy Intensities*
Region Gross Annual Average Energy Intensity (GJ/m2)
< 1000 m2
Gross Annual Average Energy Intensity (GJ/m2)
> 1000 m2
Gross Annual Average Energy Intensity (GJ/m2) Total
Non-Food Retailers 1.6 1.2 1.4
Food Retailers 3.0 2.5 2.8
Total Retail Average 1.9 1.4 1.6
Enclosed Shopping Mall - 1.2 1.2
Strip Mall 2.0 1.4 1.4
Total Shopping Centres Average 2.0 1.3 1.3
Total 2.0 1.3 1.5
Region Gross Annual Average Energy Intensity (GJ/m2)
the Atlantic provinces 1.8
Quebec 1.5
Ontario 1.2
the Prairies 1.5
British Columbia 2.1
Gross Floor Space (m2) Gross Annual Average Energy Intensity (GJ/m2)
90-459 1.8
460-929 2.0
930-4644 1.3
4645-9289 0.9
≥ 9290 1.5
Year Built Gross Annual Average Energy Intensity (GJ/m2)
1990-99 1.5
1980-89 1.2
1970-79 1.5
1960-69 1.3
Before 1960 1.8

* The Commercial and Institutional Building Energy Use Survey (CIBEUS) was completed in 2002 and was the first national energy survey in these sectors. More information is available at Gross average annual energy intensity is determined by dividing the sector's total energy use (GJ) by its total area (m2).

Real Examples

The following data describe a range of facilities across Canada. All are members of the Energy Innovators Initiative, a program within NRCan's OEE.

Sears – Granby, Quebec

This one-storey department store is owned by Sears Canada Inc., Toronto, and contains a hair salon (no elevators, escalators or restaurant). Management can track energy consumption in real time over the Internet to better manage demand-side energy.

Built: 1974 (energy retrofit: 2000)
Area: 10 827 m2
Energy types: Electricity, gas
Annual energy costs and consumption: $176,243 8 574 GJ
Energy intensity per square metre: $16.29 0.79 GJ

Shopping Center

Rideau Centre – Ottawa, Ontario

With 180 stores, this three-storey shopping mall in downtown Ottawa is used most hours a day as part of the city's transit system and has a very low gas bill since it needs no space heating.

Built: 1983 (no retrofits)
Area: 70 194 m2 (including anchor stores)
Energy types: Electricity, gas
Annual energy costs and consumption: $2,481,750 98 813 GJ
Energy intensity per square metre: $35.36 0.71 GJ

Calgary Co-op – Calgary, Alberta

Most of these 18 full-service stores include a deli, bakery, pharmacy, floral department, meat department, community meeting room, liquor store and gas bar. Upgrades include new glass-door freezers, controls to reduce refrigeration head pressure and lighting.

Built: 1960-98 (retrofit 2003-2004)
Area (18 facilities): 94 547 m2 (average 6753 m2)
Energy types: Electricity, gas
Annual energy costs and consumption: $5,213,031 326 729 GJ
Energy intensity per square metre: $55.14 3.5 GJ

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