Enbridge Gas: “Saving By Design” Program Review

Science tells us that expanding our use of fossil fuels is bad for humanity and the ecosystem.  While alternative solutions exist, they’re often more expensive (for now) as technology evolves, and so new home and condominium construction continues to rely upon natural gas for cooking and heating. So, given that, it is essential that if we are to continue to burn natural gas, we burn the least amount possible.

As urban centres continue to grow and intensify, there is no question that energy performance programs such as Enbridge’s  Saving By Design will play an increasingly important role in helping the building industry contribute to Ontario’s low carbon future, which is the future we need.

Savings by Design provides incentive in the form of funding aimed at encouraging and supporting developers in exploring high performance building energy targets and other environmental objectives early in the design phase. Enbridge provides a critical awareness and activity to the development industry by guiding, assisting and rewarding the design of buildings focused on high energy efficiency.

In 2017, Enbridge conducted a program review to update the alignment of their program with the trajectory for low-carbon development, relative to performance targets and to ensure the incentive funding was best supporting industry needs. The Review was multi-faceted and included surveying those in the development industry in Ontario who had used the program for their input. The review project included research benchmarking international program performance from green development standards and other incentive programs by utility companies.

This research was combined with the survey results from developers who had accessed the program. Interviews with industry leaders and other incentive funding organizations, including Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) were also conducted to get input on leadership expectations for incentives and program performance perspectives. The interviewees were asked what they felt should be focused on for incentives and more specifically how the Program might be structured going forward.

All of this was done to facilitate the benchmarking and modernization of the financial incentive provided through the program to determine how Savings by Design could best support energy efficient design through the integrated design format of the program, based on the low carbon expectations for development moving forward.

The current program supports projects that exceed the building code performance, by at least 15% above code. The program review resulted in an increasing expectation to support performance above code, as it is updated, and aligned with updates to the Toronto Green Standard. In continuing to demonstrate market leadership, and in aligning with programs such as the Toronto Green Standard (TGS), Savings by Design will continue to require, as a minimum performance threshold, a 25% reduction from the Ontario Building Code. The SBD program will also consider for 2019 that projects will be required to report absolute performance metrics, namely EUI, TEDI and GHGi.

The review initiative was led by Mary Sye, Manager Enbridge Gas who was instrumental in identifying the need to conduct a program review and maintain leadership for the incentive program relative to code and other program changes. She led targeting expectations to the consultant team that completed the work. PRIME Strategy & Planning, partnered with RWDI and Quadrangle Architects to deliver the project. Supporting developers to move to engage their teams in this way is essential to the low carbon expectations for the building sector.