Edmonton’s Building Retrofit Accelerator (BERA): All the details
The City of Edmonton released a new rebate program called the Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator in June 2020. This program aims to address the emissions resulting from the operations of commercial and institutional buildings by reducing building intensity. This will be done through rebates on purchases and installations of eligible energy-efficient equipment.
Since energy-efficient equipment can have a large initial cost, this program will help encourage commercial and institutional buildings to purchase install energy-efficient equipment, which will lead to lower energy costs over time plus fewer emissions that will harm the environment.
To learn more about Edmonton’s Building Retrofit Accelerator, continue reading on below.
What is an energy retrofit?
Generally speaking, an energy retrofit is any energy conservation measure placed into an existing building which leads to an overall improvement in the building’s performance. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), retrofitting can include replacing light fixtures, updating heating and cooling systems or even replacing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems with renewable technologies such as a ground-source heat pump.
READ MORE: Green Energy Solutions for Your Business
Why do an energy retrofit?
Some of the advantages of retrofitting include:
- Lowered energy costs in the long run
- Reduced maintenance requirements
- Increased value and productivity of your building
- Reduced environmental footprint (fewer greenhouse gas emissions)
What is the Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator (BERA)?
The Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator (BERA) is a rebate program that provides financial incentives for energy efficient upgrades in commercial and industrial buildings in Edmonton. The financial incentives are rebates on the purchase and installation of select energy-efficient equipment.
The main objectives of this program are as follows:
- Facilitate deep energy retrofits and greenhouse gas emissions reductions in commercial and institutional buildings.
- Strengthen working relationships between the City and participants to encourage engagement in current and future climate initiatives.
- Stimulate market transformation such that deep energy retrofits and emissions reductions strategies become the new market norm for buildings and businesses.
Who is eligible?
Below is a list of eligibility criteria you must meet to be able to participate in the Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator program:
- Building Criteria
- Commercial buildings and mixed-use buildings – commercial space only. The building must be zoned for commercial operations and building operations must reflect that purpose. Also eligible is the commercial space in a mixed-use building (e.g., a building with commercial and residential spaces).
(Zones CB1, CB2, CB3, CHY, CNC, CSC, CO, CCA, CMU, EZ, HA, MSC, TMU, CCNC,GVC, UVCa, CSCa, CSCw ).
- Institutional buildings –
These buildings include schools, hospitals and clinics, nursing homes, community centers, recreation centers, libraries, religious facilities, and other buildings that are not directly owned and operated by the municipal, provincial, or federal government. (Zone UI).
- Multifamily residential buildings
– common spaces only. Common spaces in these multifamily residences include lobbies, hallways, indoor and outdoor social and recreation spaces. (Zones RA7, RA8, RA9).
- Light-industrial zones –
The industrial buildings targeted for participation in the program are buildings that are classified under the City’s light-industrial zones. (Zone IL and IB).
- Non-profits –
This category includes buildings operated by non-profit organizations within the zoning bylaw categories listed above.
- Indigenous-owned commercial and institutional buildings. Indigenous-owned buildings within the zoning bylaw categories listed above are eligible for this program.
- Building Size – In addition to the above criteria, the buildings eligible for this program must have a gross floor area greater than 10,000 square feet.
- Location within city limits – The building must be within Edmonton city limits, as demonstrated via a utility bill (containing the building’s address) that’s dated within 2 months of your application to this program.
- Actively operational – The building needs to be in operation for at least one calendar year before your application.
- Existing building – Newly constructed buildings (a building in operation for less than one calendar year or built less than one calendar year before your application submission date) are not eligible.
- Building Owner or Tenant Approval to Participate –
In order for the building to be eligible for participation, the retrofit project must be approved by the building owner or tenant submitting the application (3rd parties may submit on their behalf).
- Join Edmonton’s Building Energy Benchmarking Program –
To be eligible, the building where the energy retrofits are taking place must register in the Building Energy Benchmarking Program. For tenants, the building they are located within must register the building in the program. You can learn more about the Building Energy Benchmarking program here.
- Ineligible buildings – These include medium and heavy industrial buildings, multifamily buildings (equipment servicing residential suites), other residential buildings, and buildings owned and operated directly by government agencies.
Can renters participate?
If you don’t own the building (e.g. you’re a renter), you still may be eligible for this program. If the building you occupy is registered for the Building Energy Benchmarking program, tenants are eligible to participate.
If the building isn’t registered for the Building Energy Benchmarking program, you can apply for the Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator program on behalf of your landlord with their consent. If they don’t give consent (and if the building is not registered for the Building Energy Benchmarking program), you as a renter won’t be able to participate.
Are there any rebates available?
Yes – this program offers financial incentive for energy efficient upgrades in commercial and industrial buildings through rebates. Below are the rebate conditions that need to be fulfilled for your application (as stated in the BERA program manual):
- Measure-Specific Rebate Amounts – You can see the measure eligibility (qualifying equipment) and fixed rebate amount per unit on the Eligible Measure List. Note that the rebate amount is capped at 50% of the actual equipment cost (including installation) regardless of the listed $/unit rebate amount.
For example, let’s say you were replacing 100 3,500 lumen linear fixtures that cost
100 liner fixtures x $20/fixture = $2,000. Rebate is capped at 50% of cost, which means the project is capped at $1,500 (since the entire cost of the lights plus their installation is $3,000).
- Minimum Rebate Per Application – This amount needs to total at least $1000.
- Maximum Rebate per Project per Calendar Year – $75,000 without a heat pump installation, or $125,000 if a heat pump is installed.
- Maximum Rebate per Company per Program Year (at multiple locations) – $150,000
- Bundling Bonus – Participants who install more than one equipment category will receive an additional 5% rebate for each category they install, up to a maximum bonus of 10% (e.g., two categories =+5%, three or more categories = +10%). The bonus rebates are not subject to the 50% of eligible cost cap for equipment or for the project as a whole and would allow a project to exceed those caps. Equipment categories are as follows:
- Lighting fixtures (interior, exterior)
- Controls (lighting, non-lighting)
- HVAC (including hot water)
- Building envelope
- Certification Bonus – Rebates cover 50% of the certification cost, as well as a 5% bonus rebate on all equipment rebates. The certification must be completed in conjunction with other measures, and proof of certification is required to receive the benefit. The bonus applies to the following certifications (see Eligible Measure List for details):
- EnerPHit – Quality-Approved Energy Retrofit with Passive House ComponentsCertificate
- LEED Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (EBOM) or Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)
- BOMA BEST
- Net Zero
- ENERGY STAR
- Rebate Stacking – Rebate stacking is allowed (e.g. participating in other grant and rebate programs in addition to this one) as long as the combined rebates from all programs doesn’t exceed 100% of the project’s costs.
How can I participate in the Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator program in Edmonton?
There are 5 steps to participate in the Building Energy Retrofit Accelerator program.
- Research and Planning – When you’re planning out your project, review the Program Manual and Eligible Measures List for guidance on which equipment, products and certifications you may want to install. If necessary, you may also want to request quotes from qualified contractors.
- Pre–approval (optional) – You can submit a pre-approval using the online application form. Along with meeting all eligibility criteria, you’ll need to submit the following documents:
- Recent utility bill (within 2 months of the application submission date)
- Copy of email confirmation for registration in Edmonton’s Building Energy Benchmarking Program
- Installation/equipment quote, including equipment model numbers, quantities, and price
If you submit a pre-approval, you’ll receive an e-mail about the rebate amounts you’re eligible for. Plus, these funds will be held for your project for up to 9 months.
Pre-approval applications are strongly recommended because if the application for the BERA is submitted post-installation, there’s no guarantee that there will be funding available.
- Installation and Document Submission – After pre-approval, participants in the program should purchase and install equipment. Pre-approved building retrofits must be completed within 9 months. If there are project delays, pre-approval extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis at the sole discretion of the City of Edmonton.
If you didn’t apply for pre-approval, then the post-installation application needs to be submitted within 30 days from the date the equipment was purchased. You can submit all required post-installation documentation using the online application form.
Documents required for post-installation applications include the following:
- Recent utility bill (within two months of the application submission date
- Copy of email confirmation for registration in the Building Energy Benchmarking Program
- Installation invoice, including equipment model numbers, quantities, and price
- Signed copy of the Program Terms & Conditions
- Extra documentation might be required as per the Eligible Measures List.
- Approval (if you submitted a post-installation application) – If the post-installation application is accepted and all necessary documentation meets program eligibility requirements, a digital letter will be sent outlining which equipment was approved and how much the rebate will be.
- Closeout – A rebate cheque will be mailed out to the program participant.
Do I need an energy audit to participate in the program?
You do not need an energy audit to participate in the Building Retrofit Accelerator program. However, other rebate programs you could potentially benefit from (such as the Energy Audit Rebate program) may require an energy audit for eligibility.
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