2023 Panel Discussion Key Learnings 

Day 1 
Interview series: How are the three levels of government helping to stimulate the demand for deep retrofits and the industry to prepare?
Moderated by Betsy Agar, Pembina Institute

Governments are sending industry clear signals that should help them plan:

  • PEI playing hands on coordinating and implementation role, delivering whole-home updates, above and beyond the initial program engagement; noticeable skill shortage prompted government to start delivering retrofit services; have removed complexity for the owners and cut queue from 12-14 months to 6 months
    o    We need capacity building
  • Canada Green Building Strategy is the Federal Government’s key piece of legislation to set and advance our building decarbonization agenda; the deep retrofit community needs to continue to provide feedback and support for this important piece of the puzzle as it is considered ‘evergreen’ and it will need considerable regulatory and investment ambition
    o    Keep the pressure on to make sure this piece of legislation sees the light of day and has teeth
  • Vancouver is showing that building performance standards, when structured well and tied to appropriate timelines (they worked with BOMA on these), are leading to positive businesses cases for decarbonizing commercial buildings; we still need comprehensive strategies for MURBs and smaller buildings 
    o    Local governments need the types of tools Vancouver has access too, like energy and carbon step codes and building performance standards


360-degree private sector panel: What is driving and inhibiting the retrofit industry?
Moderated by Tina Nicholson - Ottawa Climate Action Fund

Key Learnings

  • Market demand is increasing for Environment and Social Governance and public reporting and disclosure – societal pressure is also pushing towards a carbon neutral future and more tenants are increasingly pushing building owners to improve performance that results in improved air quality that leads to improved health, productivity and morale of employees working/living in commercial buildings/MURBs. 
  • Building performance benchmarking is imperative; understanding the current energy performance of a building against past data or buildings of a similar size provides the reference points necessary for assessing energy performance, setting energy-saving and carbon emission goals and helps inform building owners about how they use energy, where they use it and what drives their energy use which is a key step in identifying opportunities to increase profitability by lowering energy, GHG emissions and operating costs.
  • The importance of shifting from simple payback measure of return on investment to lifecycle cost analysis (LCA) . LCA uncovers early on key decisions that layout profitable payback and help prospect a building’s true asset value throughout its lifespan.  It also allows a building owner to compare various retrofitting options that may have similar first costs, but varied long-term financial advantages, environmental benefits and impacts on occupant well being. LCA provides a holistic financial picture of the building and allows to better assess the risk in investing in energy-inefficient projects.
  • The mid-tier commercial building sector is a significant portion of the built environment and are defined as non-premium grade buildings (Class B and Class C).  Typically, these buildings have been constructed between 1960 and 2000 and represent an era removed from current energy efficiency and carbon consideration.  They have outdated and inefficient technologies and typically operate well below potential.  The mid-tier sector also doesn’t have the sophistication and resources to focus on building improvements and the inherent challenges relating to ownership structure, split incentives between owner and tenant and lack of awareness around sustainability issues.  Market supports are necessary to help support this sector.

Global perspectives panel: How to create new business models to help engage new stakeholders into the retrofit market
Moderated by Betsy Agar, Pembina Institute

Market development teams are finding ways to pool project demand, simplify the deep retrofit process and match them with industry: 

  • Private capital needs to step up
    o    Building owners need to rethink how they invest in and protect their assets
  • Industry needs investment to grow and evolve to meet demand 
    o    Integrated delivery of retrofits are needed to shift us away from one off building component replacements to retrofit bundles being a product companies can deliver
  • We need more examples of decarbonization projects with a positive business case 
    o    Target building market sectors to scale up


Day 2

Provincial deep dive panel: What is driving and inhibiting retrofit projects across Quebec?
Moderated by Teodora Toteva - Montréal International

Key Learnings:

  • Tendances du marché / Current trends : réaffectation de nos espaces / repurposing our spaces
  • Leviers / Drivers: La recherche collaborative / Collaborative research
  • Opportunités / Opportunities: Récupérer de l’énergie où on le peut / Recuperate energy where we can
  • Défis / Challenges : Éduquer et sensibiliser les citoyens / Educate citizens and raise awareness

Industry discussion: How can we prioritize diversity and inclusivity as the retrofit sector scales up?
Moderated by Leslie Malone - Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors

Key areas to focus on:

  • Early engagement. This is key and this is critical. This also helps to de-risk any programs or projects that you are working on from a very early stage from a very responsible investment policy and process standpoint.
  • Develop foundational long-term relationships with the community so that when you need to do community engagement, you already have the relationships, you've already flipped that power dynamic. You've been providing education and energy literacy and economic by hiring people from the community.
  • Continue to model solutions for the nonprofit community sector and consider how to make life better for tenants.

You can review the recommendations generated from our roundtables at the 2023 conference in our Post Event Report.