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Building Efficiency for Neighbors to the North

British Columbia utility partners with PNNL to identify solutions for reducing energy use

December 2015
The skyline in Vancouver, British Columbia
The skyline in Vancouver, British Columbia

BC Hydro—the predominant utility in Canada's western-most province—faces an estimated electricity demand increase of 40 percent over the next 20 years. Needing to meet this demand, BC Hydro partnered with PNNL to identify and analyze practical design solutions for office buildings and apartments. Their efforts resulted in a set of energy efficiency and load reduction options with the potential to reduce energy use by 18-35 percent.

Starting with ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 as a baseline, they customized the prototype building to represent typical designs found in British Columbia. The team then developed energy efficiency solutions—or measures—and grouped them into savings packages of 10 percent, 20 percent, or 30 percent beyond the baseline.

After analyzing the cost-effectiveness of the measures and packages, they prioritized actions, with preference given first to measures that reduced loads, then those that increased energy efficiency.

For office buildings, some examples of measures identified included:

  • Increase wall insulation: 1.2% savings
  • Increase roof insulation: 0.7% savings
  • Upgrade to high-performance R-5 windows: 7.0% savings
  • Increase air tightness through whole building testing: 1.1% savings
  • Install permanent projections for windows: 1.4% savings

If adopted, the packages for office buildings could increase energy performance by 18-32 percent, whereas solutions for apartments could save 22-35 percent. The difference in savings resulted from the minimal increase in overall construction costs, estimated at 0-3 percent.

Globally, the population is estimated to grow nearly 25 percent over the next 25 years. PNNL can partner with utilities who need help in meeting that demand by providing these type of "above-code" packages. For more information, contact Bing Liu.

PNNL Research Team: Bing Liu and Jian Zhang


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