Frequently asked questions

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What are the benefits of energy benchmarking?

The benefits of benchmarking energy usage in buildings are tremendous, and according to Natural Resources Canada, effective energy management is a significant competitive advantage for organizations. Listed below are the benefits of energy benchmarking;

  • Providing objective, reliable information on energy use and the benefits of improvements.
  • Increasing general awareness of energy efficiency among building occupants, which in turn may affect changes in behaviour.
  • Prioritizing poor performing facilities for immediate improvement.
  • Identifying best practices that can be replicated, either within a building or across a portfolio of buildings.
  • Establishing reference points for measuring and rewarding good performance.
  • Helping to develop a comprehensive energy management action plan and build the business case for capital investments (retrofits).
  • Leading to savings that will lower energy costs while maintaining or even increasing profit margins.

What is the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge?

Durham Greener Buildings is a building benchmarking and disclosure program that provides an opportunity to take action on climate change. It uses Energy Star Portfolio Manager as the benchmarking tool. Benchmarking is the first step towards building decarbonization.

The challenge employs a friendly awards and recognition competition to inspire reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings through collaboration, education, and innovation.

The competition is free and open to building owners, property managers, and tenants who want to take action on climate change while improving your bottom by implementing responsible energy operations and behavioural practices.

Who can participate in the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge?

The Durham Greener Buildings Challenge is open to buildings more than 50,000 square feet in the commercial, multi-residential, and MUSH (municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals) sectors in Durham Region encompassing the eight unique area municipalities of Ajax, Brock, Clarington, Oshawa, Pickering Scugog, Uxbridge, Whitby, and the Region of Durham.

For the Durham Greener Buildings, buildings less than 50,000 square feet and more than 20,000 square feet are encouraged to voluntarily report.

Who manages the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge?

Durham Greener Buildings is a Region of Durham program delivered in partnership with Windfall Ecology Centre.

Why should I participate?

The Durham Greener Buildings Challenge is an opportunity to join your industry peers in collaborating on climate action to build a sustainable future. Participation is a highly visible commitment to improve building performance and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is done through implementing strategies and operational best practices to improve energy building performance within a closely matched peer group. Participants are recognized for their outstanding performance and leadership in building performance, collaboration, innovation, and emission reduction at a prestigious region-wide awards event.

Here are a few reasons to join the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge:

  • Improve your bottom line: An energy efficient building reduces operational costs and increases property asset value.
  • Connect and network with industry peers: You'll have the opportunity to network with your peers in Durham Region throughout the competition.
  • Show Durham Region pride and leadership: Your participation will help Durham Region be recognized as a community that takes an active approach in climate action.
  • Access to education and resources to drive a culture of sustainability: We'll play a supporting role in the adoption of sustainability within your company by providing resources to succeed such as tenant engagement toolkits as well as educational webinars, virtual events, and workshops.
  • Have fun while meeting your targets and celebrating your accomplishments!

How much does it cost to enroll in the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge?

There is no cost to enroll in the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge.

Will the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge compete on waste and water?

The challenge will focus on GHG emission reductions from energy sources. The inclusion of other reduction opportunities, such as waste and water, could be considered in the future.

Participation / eligibility

Who can participate?

All building owners, property managers, and tenants of:

  • Commercial buildings;
  • Multi-residential buildings;
  • Municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals;
  • Hospitality and recreational buildings.

How do I register my building for the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge?

Visit the registration page to notify us of your interest in joining the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge. You will receive confirmation of your interest and will be asked to book a consultation with a representative from the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge.

Is it necessary to have a Portfolio Manager account to be eligible for the challenge?

The Durham Greener Buildings Challenge will require you to share your property data in Portfolio Manager as one of the participation requirements. The challenge uses the building performance data from Portfolio Manager to assess the performance of individual participants. Durham Greener Buildings provides routine feedback to encourage participants to continuously improve the performance of the building(s) and/or leased space. The aggregate data from all participants are also used to assess the Programs’ own performance.

NOTE: All challenge data is kept private and confidential. Refer to the Privacy section below.

What is the deadline for participation?

Your building(s) can enroll at any time throughout the year. Enrollment for the first year of the challenge opens in January 2024, and will remain open throughout the year.

To be eligible for the challenge awards you need to have entered your building’s monthly data into Portfolio Manager for the previous year by July 1 of the current year. This is identical to the requirements of the provincial Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) program.


I am a building tenant. Can I participate without my building owner?

For the purpose of the challenge, tenant refers to a business who is leasing a room or floor of a building owned by someone else. For example, Company A is leasing two floors of Building B. Therefore, Company A is a tenant of Building B.

You could participate without your building owner if you are separately metered and billed. If this is not the case, you will require relevant data from your building owner. Even if you are eligible to participate on your own, we encourage you to get your building owner on board because the collaboration between the building owners and tenants is one of the founding principles of the challenge.

I am a tenant. How do I convince my building owner to join?

We will support you in the process of presenting the many benefits to your building owner including:

  • Access to tools and resources that could help with saving energy costs and reducing GHG emissions.
  • Seminars and webinars on a multitude of building performance related topics.
  • Information and updates on government incentives for retrofits, audits, etc.
  • Network of building professionals.
  • Sharing best building management practices.
  • Recognition for better performance.

As a building tenant what can I expect to gain from participating in the challenge?

Meet other tenants in your building and collaborate with them and your building owner to share best practices and make your leased space a better place to work and learn. As a tenant you will also have access to toolkits, informational and educational webinars, and other resources to help your green team. Improving the energy efficiency of your space will not only reduce your operating costs but can also improve your productivity.

Building owners

As a building owner, could I register without a tenant?

Although you can register without a tenant, we encourage you to get at least one tenant on board because collaboration between building owners and tenants is one of the founding principles of the challenge. Tenants might represent a large portion of your building, and without tenant action, your common area achievements might otherwise not be included in your GHG reductions.

As a building owner, how do I engage with my tenants about the benefits of participating in the challenge?

We will support you in the process of presenting the many benefits to participating as a tenant, which align with the below benefits for you as a building owner:

  • Access to tools and resources that could help with saving energy costs and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Seminars and webinars on multitude of building performance related topics.
  • Information and updates on government incentives for retrofits, audits, etc.
  • Network of building professionals.
  • Sharing best practices.
  • Recognition for better performance as a tenant.

Improving the energy efficiency of your building will not only reduce your operating costs, but can also attract and retain top tenants, improve occupant well-being, increase property/asset value, and help in solving the climate crisis. This is a win for all participants involved.

If a building is owned by two building owners, do both need to sign up?

If the building is jointly managed, then yes, both building owners will need to be included in the registration.

I have many eligible buildings that could participate in the challenge, but I don't have the resources to enter each building. Is there a faster way to enroll multiple buildings?

Yes! We will send you a bulk enrollment excel template which will help you save time by importing directly into Portfolio Manager.

Participant target and data

What is the target of the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge?

Durham Greener Buildings strives to increase participation of Durham Region buildings in the mandatory, provincial Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) program for buildings more than 50,000 square feet. The challenge targets an EWRB compliance rate of 70% or 450 commercial buildings, over three years, sharing and disclosing energy performance data. Additionally, we are targeting a comparable participation from buildings in the Broader Public Sector or 600 buildings. For the Durham Greener Buildings, buildings more than 20,000 square feet are encouraged to voluntarily report.

The ultimate goal of the challenge is to take action on climate change through building decarbonization and to recognize your achievements along the way.

We would encourage you to set a target that meets your building(s) circumstances.

Do I need to submit my energy consumption data in order to participate?

Yes, energy consumption data must be submitted into Portfolio Manager and shared with the program. You must indicate energy consumption data (e.g. electricity, natural gas) over the 12 months of the calendar year.

How do I submit the consumption data for my building(s)?

Throughout the challenge measuring participants' performance and making comparative analyses of energy consumption will be carried out by means of the free online tool, Portfolio Manager. When you sign up for the challenge, you must create an account for your building using Portfolio Manager.

To get started go to Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

The next step is to share your Portfolio Manager account data with us at your earliest convenience. Our account name is: durhamgreenerbuildings.

For detailed instructions on how to share your building(s) data with us, go to: How to Share Properties with Other Users in Portfolio Manager.

What do I do if my tenants have their own meters?

If that is the case, we suggest you encourage your tenants to create a Portfolio Manager account and share their profiles with you to ensure that all energy consumption in the building is taken into account.

What other information must be entered into the Portfolio Manager to take part in the challenge?

In addition to data on energy consumption, the following data must be input and provided:

  • Building type;
  • Gross floor area;
  • Occupancy rate;
  • Types of use;
  • Operating hours;
  • Property assessment roll number;
  • Durham Region ESPM Standard Identifier (when applicable);
  • Provincial EWRB ID (where applicable).

For more detailed information please refer to the Portfolio Manager training website, which provides training content, demonstration videos and how-to FAQs on a wide variety of Portfolio Manager features.

Your energy consumption data and your gross floor area (GFA) will be used to measure the weather-normalized site energy use intensity (EUI), and GHG emissions, which are the indicators used to compare the energy performance of buildings participating in the challenge. Your property use details, such as occupancy rate, type of use and operating hours, may be verified to determine whether the reduction in energy consumption is linked to energy efficiency measures, and not to changes in property use. You must update these details for each year of the competition.

What building data will be disclosed as a participant in the challenge?

Please refer to the participant terms of agreement.

Participants in the Durham Greener Buildings Challenge may have the following data elements disclosed on a publicly accessible Energy Performance Dashboard.

Building Identifiers:

  • Property name;
  • Parent property name (when multiple buildings are reported together)
  • Address;
  • City;
  • Postal code;
  • Province.

Building Characteristics:

  • Primary property use type;
  • Secondary property use type(s);
  • Year built;
  • Gross floor area;
  • Number of buildings on the property (when multiple buildings are reported together).

Performance metrics:

  • Electricity use intensity;
  • Weather-normalized electricity use intensity;
  • Natural gas use intensity;
  • Weather-normalized natural gas use intensity;
  • Source energy use intensity;
  • Weather-normalized source energy use intensity;
  • Site energy use intensity;
  • Weather-normalized site energy use intensity;
  • Water use intensity;
  • GHG emissions intensity;
  • Energy Star score (if applicable);
  • Total GHG emissions.

What building data will NOT be disclosed as a participant in the challenge?

We will also not publish the following information below. However, we may use this data to publish analysis of building performance at an aggregated level (for example, analyzing size distribution of all buildings of a type):

Building characteristics:

  • Property gross floor area — self-reported;
  • Gross floor area of specific property use types;
  • Occupancy rate;
  • Property notes.

Total Usage and greenhouse gases:

  • Electricity use (either grid-purchased or generated from on-site renewable systems);
  • Weather-normalized electricity use (same as above);
  • Natural gas use;
  • Weather-normalized natural gas use;
  • Fuel oil use (#1, 2, 4, 5 and 6);
  • Diesel use;
  • District energy use (steam, hot water, or chilled water);
  • Kerosene use;
  • Propane use;
  • Wood use;
  • Coal use;
  • Source energy use;
  • Weather-normalized source energy use;
  • Site energy use;
  • Weather-normalized site energy use;
  • Water use.

Reporter Identifiers:

  • Administrator name;
  • Property Data Administrator email address;
  • Portfolio Manager property ID;
  • Portfolio Manager parent property ID (when multiple buildings are reported together).

What is Site Energy Use Intensity (EUI)?

Site energy is the total amount of heat and electricity consumed by a building, as indicated in your utility bills. Site EUI is the energy consumption of the site sectioned by the surface area of the property in gigajoules (GJ) per square meter. That single common metric allows for comparisons of energy consumption in buildings of different sizes.

What is weather-normalized energy use and why is it different?

Weather-normalized energy use is the energy your building would have used under average weather conditions. Weather conditions from a given year might be much warmer or colder than average, so weather-normalized energy use takes that difference into account.

Consequently, 12 consecutive months of energy consumption data are required to determine this value.

What if I don't submit the consumption data before the July deadline?

Your building(s) for which we don't have access to data will be excluded from the awards in that particular year.

If you do not provide the challenge with access to your data by the deadline, you still have the opportunity to benchmark your own building's energy consumption.

Do I need to open a Portfolio Manager account and benchmark my building(s) to participate?

Yes, a Portfolio Manager account is required. But don't worry, the Ontario Benchmarking Help Centre is available to support and guide you on how to set up, access, use, and report through Portfolio Manager.


I am concerned about the privacy of my data.

For further information on privacy using the Portfolio Manager tool, please visit Portfolio Manager Privacy.

Information will only be shared with utilities and Durham Greener Buildings management, staff, and contracted service providers to the extent required to carry out objectives of the program.

Any information that is published will be done in a way that protects the identity of people and their associate properties or leased spaces.

Publicity and promotion

How will results and achievements be promoted?

Building performance metrics and select building characteristics will be published on a publicly available Energy Performance Dashboard on the Durham Greener Buildings website.

Award winners will be annually and publicly shared using existing marketing and communication channels (digital and printed mediums) including notices, newsletters, industry magazines, and social media.

Will I receive tools that I can use to promote my initiatives and involvement?

Yes. A promotional kit will be provided to participants once the Portfolio Manager data has been completed and their participation in the challenge becomes official.

We encourage participants to announce and highlight their leadership and participation on their website, social media accounts, and any other way they see fit.

The promotional kit will include digital and print assets including:

  • Website banners;
  • Social media message templates email templates;
  • Durham Greener Buildings logos.

Can I use the Durham Greener Buildings logo?

As a participant, you can use the Durham Greener Buildings logo. We will be sending you a promotional kit to include the proper use of the logos and messaging.

Awards and recognition

How and where will participants be recognized or awarded?

An awards gala will be held each year to highlight winning initiatives. Winners in each category will be selected based on energy savings verified as described above.

Every year, certificates/decals of participation will be distributed to acknowledge your commitment. The certificate will be given to all participants whose buildings are registered and whose data were entered before the challenge.

Awards will be presented at an event annually that will also incorporate the Durham Region Sustainability Awards.

What are the criteria for the Awards?

The awards criteria will exclusively relate to the year over year building performance extracted from Energy Star Portfolio Manager data performance metrics including but not limited to weather normalized Site EUI, GHG emissions, Energy Star Score.

For example, the criterion for the energy performance awards is weather normalized site energy use intensity. It allows for evaluation of a building's energy performance by taking weather conditions into account. The evaluation criterion for the GHG target awards is the percentage of GHG emissions reduction in metric tons of CO2 equivalents.

Performance metrics may be validated by Durham Greener Buildings. On-site visits may be organized as needed. We reserve the right to conduct certain additional verification's before awarding a prize.

Will other sustainability practices at my building be featured?

Yes, The program managers will request participants to share best practices that they have employed to improve building performance metrics. These practices may be highlighted at the awards event.