Deeper Thinking: Building Energy Audits for Carbon Reduction

CleanBC NZER Challenge Workshops Series: High-Performance Prefabrication
October 30, 2020
CleanBC NZER Challenge Workshops Series: Navigating to Net-Zero Energy-Ready
December 7, 2020


For over 30 years, commercial energy audits have been the cornerstone of energy reduction programs for existing buildings. In the last several years, the global importance of climate change has shifted the focus from strictly energy use and cost reduction to carbon reduction. This has resulted in a new approach of exploring and implementing deep carbon retrofits. This paper will focus on several key areas:

  • A comparison of energy audits and deep carbon retrofit studies in the commercial sector
  • Sample scope of work for a deep carbon retrofit study
  • Objectives and benefits of a deep carbon retrofit to shift the mindset of practitioners and building owners
  • The practical challenges of implementing deep carbon retrofits
  • The benefits of a low carbon grid in pursuing electrification
  • Key factors to achieve results in deep carbon retrofits

Successful case studies of deep carbon retrofits shared in this paper include those from a community centre, private office buildings, a laboratory, as well as an advanced education institute. We will discuss how these organizations were able to achieve carbon reductions in the 50-90% range.


Robert Greenwald — Prism Engineering

Iram Green — Prism Engineering

Sam Thomas — Prism Engineering

Craig Edwards — City of Vancouver

Published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) as part of the 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.