BOMA's e-Energy Training: Helping to Keep You In The Black, While Greening Your Building Operations

Not that long ago, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in building operations were considered 'optional' by many in our industry. They are now widely recognized as critically important, not only to the financial wellbeing of the Canadian commercial real estate sector, but to the long term health of our natural environment. BOMA's e-Energy Training for Building Operations is a powerful and cost effective online training tool to help you remain profitable, while fulfilling our environmental obligations to future generations.

The current economic climate has cemented the fact that our industry can no longer afford to operate commercial buildings inefficiently, and that keeping operating costs under control is as crucial as ever to BOMA members' financial fitness. Identifying savings opportunities and implementing energy efficiencies in the heating, cooling and lighting of commercial buildings is a vital part of keeping those costs down.

e-Energy Training - Quick Facts

  • There are more than 440,000 commercial and institutional buildings in Canada (approximately 672 million m2 of commercial floor space).
  • They account for 14% of end-use energy consumption and 13% of the country's carbon emissions.
  • Between 1990 and 2005, energy use in the sector increased almost 34% in Canada, while carbon emissions increased 37%.
  • The commercial/institutional building sector consumes more energy than freight transportation and nearly as much as the passenger transportation sector.
  • According to NRCan, improving operational practices and implementing energy retrofits in commercial and institutional buildings reduces associated energy consumption by an average of 20%.
  • BOMA's e-Energy Training for Building Operations, supported by NRCan, is an award-winning cost-effective online training tool to help building operators and engineers improve energy efficiency, cut operating expenses and shrink our industry's carbon foot-print.

Visit to register for the course.

Also conspiring to keep energy efficiency at the top of the agenda is the Federal government's commitment to reducing national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. The commercial real estate industry, as a major consumer of energy, has demonstrated a willingness to recognize the problem and do its part to address it.

And do our part we must. It is estimated that there are 440,000 commercial and institutional buildings across Canada. Those buildings (which include commercial office space, retail and wholesale businesses, hospitals, schools, universities, hotels, as well as government buildings) comprise approximately 672 million square metres of floor space, and account for a full 14% of national end-use energy consumption and 13% of Canada's carbon emissions. The commercial/institutional building sector now consumes more energy than freight transportation and nearly as much as the passenger transportation sector. Within our sector, office space consumes more energy than any other type of building.

Despite the availability of more efficient technology, our energy consumption has been climbing rapidly over the last two decades. Between 1990 and 2005, energy use in the sector increased almost 34% in Canada (the second-fastest growing sector nationally), while carbon emissions increased 37%.

To help the industry improve energy efficiency in office buildings and increase competitiveness, BOMA Canada announces the national launch of e-Energy Training for Building Operations, an award-winning on-line course designed to teach building operators and engineers across the country how to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions in commercial and institutional buildings.

"We are very pleased to offer this online training to businesses, organizations and agencies across Canada; especially in an economy where spending any more than absolutely necessary on comfortably heating, cooling and lighting your buildings is simply not an option," states Michael Miceli, Chair of BOMA Canada. "We believe that this training will provide solid value to our industry in helping to ensure that building operations personnel remain educated, aware and proactive in their approach to reducing energy costs and GHG emissions."

The course is a joint initiative of BOMA Canada, BOMA BC and BOMA Toronto and reflects the reality that while new equipment tends to be more energy efficient, it can also be very expensive and require a long lead time. Teaching building operations personnel how to make the most of their existing plant and equipment, on the other hand, can pay immediate and substantial dividends.

"We're finding that the energy efficiency of a building is just as dependent, if not more, on the individuals operating the equipment as it is on the equipment and the design of the building itself," says Chris Conway, President of BOMA Toronto. "While there is no question that design and equipment are important issues, new chillers or building envelopes can be sizeable capital investments which take time to plan and implement. To get the most out of the building and an almost instantaneous return on investment, it's all about the people and the knowledge they have."

The training, made possible by grants from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the BC government, and provincial utilities including Ontario Power Authority, is offered in both French and English and begins with an overview of basic energy management principles. The course then teaches operators specific practical skills (in subjects such as lighting, HVAC and controls optimization), which can be used in their day-to-day operations. The course also presents operators with strategies to influence building occupants' energy consumption behaviour and tips on how to best "sell" the benefits of capital projects, such as energy retrofits, to management.

The format of the course is specifically tailored to the needs of busy building operators. The course requires approximately 30 hours of study to complete and can be taken during work hours when time permits, or remotely from home (other energy management courses often require a much greater and sustained time commitment and, more often than not, are only offered in a classroom setting). Between on-line sessions, which can be spread out over several months, operators are urged to put the skills learned from the course into practice in their buildings.

Gary Megson, Chief Building Engineer at the 30-story steel tower at 1 Adelaide Street East in Toronto, recently completed e-Energy Training For Building Operations. "I've been a building engineer for a long while, but I still learned a lot from the course -- like new ways to communicate with tenants about saving energy, tips on properly insulating boilers and steam valves, and new options in lighting," states Megson, who has run operations and maintenance for 22 years on the site currently owned by Oxford Properties. "The course gave me a better understanding of the big picture when it comes to energy management. It also had some great case studies and calculators to show the results of, for example, raising or lowering building temperature by half a degree. I have recommended the course to my four building operators and my electrician. It made a lot of sense and even sparked some new ideas; and because it is online I could take the course at my own pace."

The response to the course (which has been available in British Columbia since the end of 2007 through BOMA BC) has so far been overwhelmingly positive. Operators who took the training gave it an overall satisfaction rating of 94%. The course has also been seen to be very effective at improving operational practices. Participants reported a 28% improvement, following successful course completion, in the operators' ability to both identify energy savings opportunities and implement energy efficiency measures. According to NRCan, improving operational practices and implementing energy retrofits in commercial and institutional buildings reduces associated energy consumption by an average of 20%.

BOMA BC Executive Vice President, Paul LaBranche, was extensively involved in assembling e-Energy's design and production team and overseeing its development. "We are thrilled that, thanks to grants from NRCan and the Ontario Power Authority, this online training is being made available to businesses, organizations and agencies beyond our province. We believe it will increase competitiveness in the entire sector by helping to keep operating costs under control," says LaBranche. "We've found that those who've taken the course are eager to put their new skills into practice and quickly become 'energy champions' in their organizations. We look forward to seeing it in action from coast to coast."

Content for the e-Energy course, which at only $750 per participant is considered well below market pricing, was produced by BC firms Prism Engineering and Circle Learning with extensive input from a team of experienced building operators across the country. To date, the course has helped almost 100 businesses and organizations save on their utility costs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Beyond the reduced emissions and operating expenses, BOMA Toronto's Director of Member Programs Don Butcher sees the training as providing a number of additional benefits to BOMA members. "There is no question that tenants are paying more attention to their own environmental impact and they are beginning to strongly prefer buildings that are operated in an environmentally sustainable way. E-Energy training can help put you on the radar of this rapidly increasing group of prospective tenants," states Butcher. "It is also going to make a difference to the value of the asset. If the building is consuming less energy, it's flowing more money to the bottom line and is actually worth more. The asset managers like it, the tenants like it, and we all like it because it helps the bottom line and protects the environment."

The e-Energy Training for Building Operations course will be periodically updated to reflect the ever-changing energy management landscape and to incorporate training on the efficient operation of emerging technologies, such as solar and photovoltaic energy production.


To learn more about e-Energy Training and to register for the course, please visit