Starting in 2015, SBC has been contracting with subject matter experts, professionals and academics to undertake specific research efforts culminating in the delivery of “white papers” for each project. The papers tackle a wide variety of topic areas including technology assessments, energy modelling advancements, design considerations and policy issues. While SBC vets the scope for each study and reviews the final reports, the content is independently developed by the authors of each study. SBC does not make any claims regarding the accuracy of the reports.
Reports are generated on an ad hoc basis. The following reports were provided in 2017 and are posted here for distribution. Should you have any comments or questions regarding the content of the reports, please contact the author(s) directly.
With principal authorship by Greg Allen of Rivercourt and additional research provided by RWDI, this research paper summarizes the current landscape of CO2e emission factors, describes how these factors were calculated and what they represent, and identifies issues in the current methods of deriving them. This research can be used to inform building design teams and energy modellers in the selection of an appropriate emission factor, as well as to show program designers and regulators the implications that their choice of CO2e emission factor will have on building sector GHG emissions. A selection of emissions factors are reviewed and applied to an archetype energy model to compare the implications that these factors might have on key design decisions as they impact fuel choice and energy use.
Authored by RWDI, this paper explores how air leakage through the envelope can have a significant impact on the energy use of a building, particularly in heating dominated climates. However, infiltration is not often given an appropriate amount of attention by most projects during the design stage of a development. Possible reasons for this include the difficulty of determining what infiltration rate to apply to an energy model, and the fact that common energy codes in Canada do not allow savings to be directly claimed for technologies and strategies that reduce infiltration. Infiltration rates used in energy models often just become a ‘best guess’, which in turn leads to a reduced understanding of the project’s expected performance. The overarching intent of this document is to inform this ‘best guess’, and to encourage a more consistent representation of infiltration across projects that go through the SBD program.
Modelling Weather Futures - Authored by Mike Williams, and Jennifer Harmer - RWDI
Designing buildings that can provide thermal comfort to their occupants in the current climate, yet can also adapt and continue to provide protection from unknown future changes in the exterior environment is currently one of the building industry’s greatest challenges. Building Energy Simulations use weather files, which then inform the selection of HVAC systems and other design decision. Despite being integral to decision-making, the most commonly used weather files describe climate conditions from 1959 - 1989: data that is over 25 years old. This White Paper aims to demonstrate why care must be taken to select weather files for energy modelling use that best describes the climatic conditions of a specific location, and which presents a method for using climate forecasting models in order to quantifiably estimate the potential outcome of climate change on a proposed building. See here to download the weather files.
This paper explores the current relationship between low-flow fixtures and energy efficiency standards and incentive programs. In some sectors (notably multi-residential buildings), the energy required to heat service hot water can represent a large portion of building energy consumption. The Ontario Building Code currently mandates maximum water fixture flow rates. There are several commercially available fixtures with flow rates that are below these maximums, however the Ontario Building Code does not currently allow low-flow domestic water fixtures to be considered as a creditable measure when applying the performance path for energy saving compliance. Some green building rating systems, such as LEED, do consider low-flow fixtures to be an efficiency measure, and encourage their use by allowing designers and energy modelers to consider them as a credit in energy calculations. This study addresses the following key questions: How are low-flow fixtures credited under current energy standards or energy efficiency incentive programs? Is there evidence that low flow fixtures actually save water and, if so, by how much? Do energy models appropriately predict annual hot water usage? And finally, what are the appropriate energy savings measure inputs to use in a Savings By Design modelling activity?
This report details a study undertaken to evaluate the carbon emission impact of air-source heat pump-based HVAC systems in comparison to traditional natural gas furnace HVAC systems in single-family homes in Ontario. Twelve hourly energy models were created to evaluate three different home types, each with four different HVAC systems: conventional HVAC system (gas furnace, gas DHW, and DX air conditioning), air-source heat pump with electric back-up & electric DHW, air-source heat pump with gas back-up & gas DHW, and variable refrigerant flow air source heat pump with gas back-up and gas DHW. The annual hourly energy use developed by each model was then used to calculate operating costs and carbon emissions, based on both specific hourly generation source energy data (provided from the IESO), and assuming a marginal energy generation source of natural gas only. Key findings include: all the models using ASHP systems (2, 3, and 4) consumed less energy than the model using the conventional natural gas furnace HVAC system (1); from an annual operating cost perspective, the conventional HVAC system (1) was the lowest in all cases due to the significantly higher cost for electrical energy as compared to natural gas energy, with system 2 having the highest operating cost; & using the specific hourly generation mix provided by the IESO resulted in lower CO2 emissions for all the ASHP based HVAC systems. Emission calculations were also conducted using a marginal natural gas generation; the study’s results highlight the significant impact that generation mix assumptions have on the forecasted CO2 emissions, with additional study recommended to better understand the impact and optimum ASHP sizing in relation to the heating load from both a cost/benefit and C02 emission perspective.
This paper summarizes the challenges that surround taking a current condominium design, and moving the design performance level to meet the goals of Net Zero energy, carbon, water, waste diversion from landfill, while also meeting the City of Toronto targets for Toronto Green Standard Resiliency metrics. This paper summarizes the outcomes of two integrated design workshops undertaken by SBC that sought to both identify the pathways to next zero from a design and technology perspective and identify the key infrastructure barriers that need to be addressed to meet that target. With funding support from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Enbridge Gas Distribution, this effort engaged over 75 subject matter experts, design decision makers and government representatives.
For the 2 detailed compendium reports:
Barriers to Net Zero - Workshop Summary - IDP Workshop Summary, prepared by SBC
Tridel - On The Park Tower B SBD IDP Workshop Summary - IDP Workshop Summary, prepared by SBC
Embodied Carbon White Paper - Authored by Steve Dulmage & Michael Mousa
The building sector accounts for about one third of GHG emissions globally, and about 12% in Canada. Yet this number does not include the manufacturing and transportation of building materials, suggesting that the building sector accounts for a higher percentage of GHG emissions. Indeed, buildings emit GHG throughout their lifecycles, from raw material extraction and construction to operations and demolition. Given that current energy performance programs primarily focus on operational emissions, these longitudinal embodied carbon emissions are missed in energy performance models, thus representing only part of the sustainability equation. As pressure mounts to reduce GHG emissions, efforts to address carbon emissions have widened to include those embodied in raw material extraction, manufacturing, delivery, construction methods, and end of life disposal or recycling. This white paper explores the issues and urgency relating to embodied carbon, current industry trends on the topic, and the potential to influence regulations and standards to incorporate embodied carbon measures. This paper also analyzes the impact of design decisions on embodied carbon, specifically structural materials, building form, and ECMs. Where applicable, embodied carbon is compared to the operational savings associated with these design decisions.
Outboard Insulation: Basement and Wall Strategies for Southern Ontario - Authored by Dave Petersen & Miyoko Oikawa
With the popularity of brick and stone veneer claddings in the Southern Ontario new construction housing market, the code-driven trend of outboard insulation strategies creates some challenges for builders. Builders have grown accustomed to the ease of construction and costs associated with 8” cast-in-place foundation walls. Outboard insulation strategies, while efficient from a thermal perspective in our climate zone, can create foundation wall depth issues, e.g. maintaining bearing for heavyweight veneers, and the 1” drainage gap required by these wall types to vent bulk water. Through a series of residential design workshops sponsored by the Enbridge Gas Distribution’s Savings By Design program, a clear link to cost as a primary objection has surfaced amongst most (80%) of builder proponents questioned. This paper describes seven above ground and basement wall strategies, options which rely on a typical 8” foundation pour (some requiring enhanced rebar schedules) and which utilize outboard insulation between 2” to 4” thickness with masonry veneer claddings. This outboard insulation strategy, along with balanced interstitial insulation levels, meets the standard for net zero ready housing and will likely be code compliant construction by 2030 in Ontario. Criteria for applying these building strategies included ease of construction, durability of wall systems, and thermal and structural performance. Order-of-magnitude pricing, including local labour factors, have been included for each system and may be compared and contrasted with the more typical 10” foundation strategy to determine which approach makes greater holistic sense.
Opportunities for Building-Integrated Low Impact Development - Authored by Jen Hill
In Ontario, judicious use of rainwater is being driven by stormwater management targets rather than drought conditions. In 2016 the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) published a review of stormwater volume control targets from other jurisdictions and a report of geospatial statistics. This second report established the 90th percentile rainfall volume control target for all regions across Ontario. At the time of writing, the Ministry is considering comments on a document which proposed what should be done with this volume of water. Alternatives include that every property owner completely retain the rainwater without discharging it to a sewer, or that each property owner should treat the water to remove contaminants and slow the flow to sewers, reducing the risk of flooding. This paper explores a range of building integrated low impact development strategies including blue roofs, green roofs, planters, absorbent surfaces, rainwater harvesting, and combined systems, while also contextualizing by region and best practice.
In collaboration with Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc, SBC undertook a study aimed at identifying the issues, challenges and potential opportunities for the use of Local Improvement Charges (LICs) for the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors. The study included the provision of a legal opinion, a review of other jurisdictions’ use of LICs, and specific recommendations for municipalities to implement LICs.
Sustainable Buildings Canada undertook to provide an evaluation for multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) using the new ENERGY STAR for Mid/High Rise Buildings (ESMB) and the Toronto Green Standard Version III (TGSIII), compared to the current Building Code requirements for energy efficiency. Support was provided by Enbridge Gas Distribution and EnergyQuality Corporation. This report presents the results for TGSIII, for which a description of the methodology including the three targets is provided. SBC provided design specifications for three recently designed MURBs that met the current Building Code, a 6 storey low-rise, a 10 storey mid-rise, and a 20 storey high rise. Energy models were developed for each building, the mid-rise and high-rise by EQ Building Performance, and the very high-rise by RWDI Consultants. Models were developed for both energy code options offered in Supplementary Standard SB-10 (2017). The energy modellers then prepared list of energy conservation measures that would deliver an energy efficiency of 15%, and 20%, over SB-10 (2017). These results were compared with the energy efficiency targets (Total EUI and TEDI) and the emissions (GHGI). In all cases, the results fell short of the TGSIII targets, although in a couple of instances, it was close.
Sustainable Buildings Canada undertook to provide an evaluation for multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) using the new ENERGY STAR for Multi-family Buildings (ESMFB) and the Toronto Green Standard Version III (TGSIII), compared to the current Building Code requirements for energy efficiency. Funding support was provided by Enbridge Gas Distribution and EnergyQuality Corporation. This report presents the results for ESMFB analysis, for which a description of the methodology including potential energy savings measures that would accommodate energy performance threshold of 15% and 20% better than Code (consistent with the proposed ESMFB performance requirements). SBC provided three recently designed MURBs that met the current Building Code, a 6 storey low-rise, a 10 storey mid-rise, and a 20 storey high rise. Energy models were developed for each building, the low-rise and mid-rise by EQ Building Performance, and the high-rise by RWDI Consultants. Models were developed for both energy code options offered in Supplementary Standard SB-10 (2017). The energy modellers then prepared list of energy conservation measures that would deliver an energy efficiency of 15%, and 20%, over SB-10 (2017). These results were compared to the energy efficiency of the Proposed Designs that just met SB-10 (2017). In addition, SBC’s cost consultant proved a detailed review of the additional costs required to meet the 15% and 20% improvement targets.
With the increased stringency of updated energy codes and regulations, consumption on a total building energy level has successfully been reduced. In large part the success of this reduction is a result of advances in lighting, HVAC and building envelope components. The wide-scale availability of high efficiency options of these building components has decreased the energy associated with those regulated end uses. As a result, the unregulated portion of a building’s load now has a greater impact on energy performance than before and thus requires further investigation. One building type of which unregulated loads have a significant impact on their energy consumption is the Multi Unit Residential Building (MURB). For these building types, energy associated with in-suite appliances, typically consisting of refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, stoves, washers, and dryers represents an ever more significant portion of the total building energy consumption as the other, traditionally energy intensive end-uses, shrink. Current guidelines for modelling in-suite appliances and allowing credit for energy efficient appliances vary. Sustainable Buildings Canada, which is responsible for delivering the Savings by Design incentive program, is interested in exploring how appliance energy is treated by other programs and what the appropriate Equipment Power Density (EPD) is for the Savings by Design program.
When we think about transforming our cities into resilient and sustainable cities, it’s not enough to think about infrastructure and buildings. That’s definitely a great place to start but we can never forget that – ultimately – we build our cities for people. You, me, all of us. The aim should be to build places where people can thrive, be happy and healthy, and connect with each other. The efforts we invest in making our buildings and communities more sustainable can very often also be leveraged to make our communities healthier. It’s just a matter of looking at it through both lenses at the same time. There are two great examples right here in downtown Toronto that illustrate at very different scales what that might look like.