Helping improve energy efficiency of buildings and reduce their environmental impacts

Buildings are significant producers of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to Natural Resources Canada, energy consumption of homes and buildings accounted for 17% of GHGs in 2014[1]. Improving buildings’ energy efficiency is an important component of Canada’s plan to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels). The need for new solutions for the building sector in Canada is also outlined in recent federal initiatives, such as the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change[2]. Moreover, such solutions can bring significant cost savings to building owners and occupants.

There are many energy-efficient solutions and practices that can be implemented in the design and construction of new buildings. Repairs, renovations, retrofits, and recommissioning can further increase energy efficiency of existing buildings. While buildings use most of the energy for space heating, air conditioning, and lighting, other systems, from elevators to water heating, also contribute to overall energy consumption. A growing number of building owners and building managers are implementing energy management and smart control strategies to improve efficiencies across all energy-using systems holistically. CSA Group standards support these efforts.

 Leading the way toward system-level standards

CSA Group’s Energy Efficiency program has a long track record of developing discrete performance-based standards for use and application in buildings. These standards address buildings’ lighting, HVAC and refrigeration systems, as well as residential and industrial products. Many of these standards are referenced in Canada’s federal and provincial energy efficiency regulations and harmonized with the United States. While the development of this type of standards continues, there is a strong need for broader, system-level approaches.

Under the oversight of a new Technical Committee on Building Energy Systems, CSA Group launched several initiatives considering the interaction of various building components and subsystems to derive an overall system efficiency. These new system-level standards address building commissioning, thermal bridging, and standardize energy modeling methodologies. They purposefully tackle both new and retrofit construction and various building types. Currently, some of these complex system standards are being considered for incorporation by reference into the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) and provincial energy codes such as the BC Energy Step Code.

Summary of CSA Group Building Energy Systems Standards currently published or in development
Figure 1: Summary of CSA Group Building Energy Systems Standards currently published or in development.

Effective commissioning can help save energy

While buildings have to meet the requirements of the national and provincial codes and standards, it is also important to ensure that, once in use, the energy systems operate as they were designed. Effective commissioning of these systems can save 5 to 15% of energy annually [3] [4].

CSA Z5000-18, Building commissioning for energy using systems and CSA Z5001:20, Existing building commissioning for energy using systems, provide protocols, best practices, and recommendations for commissioning of the energy and water system components in new and existing buildings, respectively.

Consistent with current building management practices, these Standards can help you reach optimal performance and efficiencies of energy systems to conserve energy and reduce costs.

Both CSA Z5000-18 and CSA Z5001:20 are available for no-fee view access on the CSA Store.

 Addressing thermal bridging to help reduce heat loss

As space heating and cooling consume a significant portion of energy in Canada’s commercial, institutional, and residential buildings, the building envelope’s thermal performance plays a critical role in reducing heating loads.

Thermal bridging occurs when a building component extends out of the conditioned space, allowing for heat transfer. Disregarding thermal bridges can result in underestimating the total heat loss through walls by 20 to 70%. If major thermal bridges are not addressed, adding insulation may not significantly reduce the overall heat loss through the walls.

The new National Standard of Canada, CSA Z5010:21, Thermal bridging calculation method, provides a consistent methodology you can use to calculate thermal bridging in buildings and estimate its energy impact on building envelope heat loss and gain.

CSA Z5010:21 is available for no-fee view access on the CSA Store.

 Facilitating the deployment of new technologies

New emerging technologies, from renewable energy production to thermal storage and connected devices, have the potential to further improve energy efficiency of buildings and reduce their environmental impacts. New standards can help high-performance, intelligent buildings reach their full potential. CSA Group recently launched a project that will help standardize requirements for information and communication technology infrastructure and data management for buildings. One of the overarching purposes of this systems-level standard is to support the safe and secure interconnection and communication of intelligent building systems, such as HVAC, lighting, security, or elevators.

[1] Natural Resources Canada, Canada’s Building Strategy, (accessed February 2022)

[2] Government of Canada, Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, (accessed February 2022)