Enbridge – Savings by Design Affordable Housing Program: Peterborough Housing Corporation achieves cost savings through energy efficiency

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Peterborough Housing Corporation (PHC) is the largest social housing provider in the City and County of Peterborough, owning and managing over a thousand senior, single and family housing units that provide homes for approximately 4,000 people.

In 2017, PHC was planning construction of the McRae building – a new multi-residential complex that would include a combination of assisted living, market rate, and affordable housing units. As with many projects in the affordable housing sector, cost management was a key driver, so PHC was looking for innovations that could deliver high performance at lower cost.

That’s where Enbridge came in. Enbridge provided its Savings by Design Affordable Housing (SBD AH), which helps housing providers who are looking for ways to cost-effectively increase the energy performance of buildings, at up-front costs they can manage.

Participating in the SBD AH program allowed Peterborough Housing Corporation (PHC) to receive assistance from sustainable building experts and energy modellers in a design workshop focused specifically on their McRae project. The sustainable design experts provided advice on building features, equipment, and materials that could improve the energy performance of the existing building design. And the energy modellers were able to show how various design choices would save energy and money. Enbridge paid for the workshop’s costs, and provided a financial incentive to help offset any cost to the shelter from bringing members of its own design team to attend the workshop.

“The level of expertise in the workshop was amazing,” says Craig Adams, acting director of corporate assets at Peterborough Housing Corporation. “We were delighted with the design ideas and recommendations which we have implemented.”

Cam Black, an energy solutions consultant with Enbridge, says that the design workshops are both comprehensive and project-specific. “There are core discussions on building
envelope and mechanical systems, but workshops typically also have break-out sessions on topics like accessibility, green roofs or even renewable energy options,” says Black. “It all depends on what the housing provider identifies in its preworkshop visioning session as being most relevant.” The McRae workshop, for example, included sessions on indoor environmental quality and solar energy and energy storage.

Through participating in the design workshop, Peterborough Housing Corporation learned how to increase the McRae building’s designed energy efficiency to 24.4 per cent better than required by the Ontario Building Code. This will result in more than $28,000 in energy savings annually, which will help to keep the housing complex’s operating costs manageable.

“Operationally, we are enjoying significant energy efficiency savings and increasing the comfort level for our tenants”, says Adams. “ The upgrades have made this a leading
edge building in our city.”

Once construction is complete, the project will also be eligible for financial incentives tied to the number of units built and the level of energy efficiency achieved. “Depending on the final building’s energy efficiency, program participants are eligible to receive up to $1,000 per unit, to a maximum of $120,000 per project,” says Black. Participants can also earn
an additional incentive of up to $15,000 for completing building commissioning.

“These incentives help offset the costs of investing in better efficiency options up-front, and ensuring that the equipment installed in the newly constructed building is functioning as it should.” The McRae building is still working towards those post-construction incentives, with construction expected to be complete in early 2020.

Reflecting on his experience with the SBD AH program, Adams observes that “capital costs tend to be prohibitive in new construction, but the program has helped keep costs
low”.

To learn more about Enbridge’s Savings by Design Affordable Housing program and how you can participate, visit EnergyEfficientConstruction.ca, or contact Cam Black at (416) 758-4748 or cam.black@enbridge.com.

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