Supporting the Future of Energy Efficiency in Buildings with Innovative Standards Development and Testing Services

Ensuring that the Canadian built environment runs as energy efficiently as possible goes a long way in helping the nation reach its climate change goals, while providing economic benefits to building owners. There has been a shift towards choosing energy efficient products – from small tools to large appliances and HVAC systems – to help improve the energy efficiency in buildings of all sizes. However, somewhere between focusing on the energy efficiency of building components and focusing on the efficiency of the building as a whole is the concept of assessing building systems. This concept of the building system adds a third ‘E’ to energy efficiency when it comes to buildings – energy efficient entities.

A building systems approach considers the interactions of components, such as appliances and equipment, within and among building systems, as well as interactions among multiple buildings, and between the building and the electric grid.1 While significant progress has been made over the years to improve building energy efficiency, to date there has been no significant work done to develop standards to serve as a quality benchmark for assessing the building energy systems (BES) – until now. CSA Group is actively working towards developing standards in this innovative and important area, and with a century of experience, the future of assessing buildings as a smooth-running energy efficient entity is looking bright.

The Canadian federal government recognizes the role of energy efficiency in the built environment as part of its ‘Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change’. This is a plan that outlines an approach to pricing carbon pollution, and measures to achieve reductions across all sectors of the economy, aims to drive innovation and growth by increasing technology development and adoption to ensure Canadian businesses are competitive in the global low-carbon economy, and includes actions to advance climate change adaptation and build resilience to climate impacts across the country.2 Buildings and communities must be smart and sustainable, and this means becoming highly efficient.

Standards can go a long way in establishing guidance and best practices for assessing the energy efficiency of building systems. CSA Group has already developed or is in the process of developing various standards and guidance documents in the area of building energy efficiency including Building Energy Estimation Methodology,  Energy Performance Commissioning and  Thermal Bridging to name a few.

Based on the success of these activities and the growing interest from stakeholders for standards development in the area, CSA Group organized a stakeholder engagement meeting on BES in November 2018. With positive feedback, it was agreed that CSA Group will proceed with the creation of a new BES focused Technical Committee (TC).

Major elements that contribute to the overall energy efficiency of a building system are heating and cooling systems, lighting, and office equipment. In order to achieve peak efficiency, these elements must meet specific criteria. Having standards developed to use as a benchmark for building system energy efficiency is a crucial first step, but having them actually evaluated to these standards is key to overall energy efficiency goals. In addition, looking to alternate sources of energy such as photovoltaic (PV), as well as innovative areas such as energy storage, is also a critical part of BES goals. In fact, including building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) in a building systems approach can contribute to developing net-zero energy buildings. CSA Group has extensive expertise in evaluating the energy efficiency of HVAC systems, office equipment, and lighting as well as PV components and energy storage systems. In addition, our labs have even started to receive requests for testing of BIPV.

A more detailed look at the importance of standards and testing for BES can be found in CSA Group’s upcoming free white paper titled Energy Efficient Entities – Why Considering Buildings as a “System” is the Future of Assessing Energy Efficiency.

For more information, please contact CSA Group.

[1] Alliance to Save Energy. Building Systems Efficiency. (29 March, 2018). Retrieved from:

[2] Government of Canada. Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. (21 November, 2018). Retrieved from: