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Canada to help fund ISO 50001 building energy standard

The Canadian government is accepting proposals to financially support building projects that will...


Natural Resources Canada is financially supporting proposals for the ISO 50001 standard to promote energy efficiency across Canadian buildings. (Photo credit: Dreamstime)

The Canadian government is accepting proposals to financially support building projects that will adhere to stronger energy efficiency standards to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Announced in August, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) unveiled its call for proposals for the NRCan ISO 50001 program for commercial and institutional buildings. It is a building energy efficiency standard established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an international standards organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.

About ISO 50001

The ISO 50001 standard, according to an NRCan spokesperson via e-mail, gives organizations a framework for developing an effective energy management system.

It establishes a policy that sets achievable targets for energy use and develops action plans to reach those targets and measure progress toward them. It is applicable to the private or public sectors.

ISO 50001 is devoted only to energy efficiency, unlike other green building standards like LEED and BOMA Best.

One notable aspect of ISO 50001 is its flexibility. It does not set strict targets for energy performance improvement. Instead, it leaves those goals to the organization or regulatory authorities. It also allows organizations to set their own baselines for energy performance and improve at their own rate.

The Canadian government is offering financial support to implement ISO 50001 at buildings during the 2023/2024 and 2024/2025 fiscal years. Municipal, provincial and territorial governments; utilities; industry associations; and Indigenous organizations are potential recipients.

It is part of the government’s ambitions to lower Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below a 2005 baseline by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

“As the buildings sector is the third-largest source of emissions in Canada, prioritizing decarbonization and reducing emissions into the atmosphere is key to meeting our objectives,” said the spokesperson. “Making buildings more energy-efficient not only fights climate change, but it also creates good jobs while helping Canadians save on their monthly energy bills.”

The financial support

The funding will reimburse eligible project costs such as a feasibility study with action commitments, ISO 50001 compliance and ISO 50001 certification.

Eligible costs can range from license fees, data purchases, certification costs and permits, to equipment rental and travel expenditures for training, including meals and accommodation.

For-profit organizations may receive up to 60 per cent of eligible costs while non-profit organizations may be reimbursed up to 75 per cent of eligible costs.

It will cap at $40,000 per building and a maximum contribution to an organization or group of affiliates is $200,000 per fiscal year.

Applications will run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 21, 2022.

As ISO 50001 is voluntary, NRCan says some organizations may implement it solely for the benefits, while others may become certified to demonstrate to external parties they have implemented an energy management system.

Because ISO 50001 does not impose firm targets for energy efficiency, NRCan said it cannot estimate how many greenhouse gas emissions it will prevent. The agency did provide an example from Hilton, which executed a portfolio-wide certification to ISO 50001 and reduced energy intensity by 20.6 per cent and carbon intensity by 30 per cent from a 2008 baseline.

Another initiative from the government to support a more sustainable built environment was a public engagement process for the Canada Green Buildings Strategy.

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