Energy Benchmarking Program: Impact and Sustainability
by Donna Lang – September 24, 2020
Faith & the Common Good’s (FCG) three-year-long Energy Benchmarking Program for the GTHA has come to an end. As Project Manager and Toronto Animator for the program, I greatly enjoyed working with our team of talented animators from Halton/Oakville, Hamilton, and York Region. Together, we surpassed our target of 100 faith communities (FC) for the grant period 2017-2020, with 103 participating congregations.
Site map of participating FC.
Respondents from a June 2020 Survey Monkey gave the Benchmarking Program a 90% satisfaction rating (top two boxes - extremely, very satisfied). The two key drivers of satisfaction were the animator’s outreach and mentoring approach (this also received a 9/10 rating), as well as the educational resources we provided (Do-It-Yourself Faith Building Energy Audit guide, webinars, and our website).
Rev. Douglas Moore, Laidlaw United, Hamilton, and FCG team. Animators completed the online forms, with the help of the FC. Signing up Laidlaw United 2018. Also a link to webinar "How to Access your Energy Data Webinar" April 16, 2020
The program’s impact was viewed as being very positive; 8 out of 10 survey respondents indicated they were more knowledgeable about their building’s energy use, and this information was shared within their faith communities. Respondents indicated that the information was helpful for verifying the impacts of past actions and that it also helped to provide a business case for future energy-efficient retrofit actions.
Which of the following statements are true, as a result of participating in the Energy Benchmarking Program?
Impact of program
Most participating faith communities became involved in energy-efficient retrofits. They installed LED lighting or did energy upgrades such as replacing windows and doors, retrofitting boilers, installing motion sensors, thermostat controls, and/or building automation systems.
What actions have you/your community taken as a result of the report or your participation in the Energy Benchmarking Program?
Sustainability of Program
GREAT NEWS! The energy benchmarking program is proving to be sustainable beyond the funding period. About half of the participants say they wish to continue tracking their energy data in the future and that they are willing to pay for it.
Would your faith community be willing to pay a “specified fee” to continue receiving data?
Our Program Animators also provided post-program feedback at a webinar in September 2020. Overall, they were very pleased with the program’s success. Recommendations for program improvement include building in more time for the overall process; time to negotiate receiving data from the utilities, time for data collection, data entry and report creation, time for the animator to find the right person to fill in the online forms, and a more user-friendly online form.
When asked if COVID-19 caused any problems for the program, animators said that the vast majority of faith communities had signed up in Year 1 and Year 2; participating faith communities had already met with their teams, analyzed their data, and decided what next steps to take before the start of the pandemic in March 2020. As such, the pandemic did not affect the success of the program.
On behalf of Faith & the Common Good, I would like to thank The Ontario Trillium Foundation for generously funding this program. We appreciate your assistance in helping us build more resilient and sustainable communities!