In 2009, commercial business owners and institutions spent $24 billion on energy to provide services to Canadians. This represents approximately 3 percent of the value of GDP related to this sector. In 2009, this sector was responsible for 14 percent of the total energy use (Figure 4.1) in Canada and produced 13 percent of the associated GHG emissions (Figure 4.2).
In the commercial/institutional sector,5 energy is used for different purposes, such as space heating, cooling, lighting and water heating, as well as for operating auxiliary equipment (such as computers) and motors. Space heating accounts for the largest share of energy use, with about half of the total energy used (Figure 4.3). Street lighting included in total energy use is excluded from the factorization analysis because it is not associated with floor space activity.
The commercial/institutional sector includes activities related to trade, finance, real estate, public administration, educational and commercial services. These activities have been grouped into 10 subsectors (see Figure 4.4 for a complete listing of activities).
Of these activities, offices, retail trade and educational services account for 70 percent of the total Canadian commercial/institutional floor space, which in 2009 was estimated at 709.5 million m².
From 1990 to 2009, total commercial/institutional energy use increased 37 percent, from 867.0 PJ to 1,186.0 PJ, including street lighting. At the same time, GDP for the commercial/institutional sector grew 74 percent and floor space grew 39 percent. The GHG emissions associated with the sector’s energy use, including electricity-related emissions, increased 29 percent over the same period. However, between 2008 and 2009, GHG emissions including electricity-related emissions decreased 5 percent. This was attributable to a combination of two factors: a marked drop in the emission factor related to electricity generation and a decrease in electricity consumption. The decrease in the emission factor was caused by a significant decrease in coal used to generate electricity in 2009. The decrease in electricity consumption was significant in Ontario, where total energy consumption decreased 6 percent in 2009 compared with 2008, while electricity consumption alone fell 10 percent. This was attributable mainly to a decrease in space cooling energy use because the summer was cooler in 2009 than in 2008. And, to a lesser extent, the 2008 recession indirectly affected some commercial and institutional activities.
Natural gas and electricity continued to be the main energy sources for the commercial/institutional sector, accounting for 87 percent of total energy use (Figure 4.5). Electricity is the primary energy source for lighting, space cooling, auxiliary motors and equipment. Natural gas and the remaining fuels are the primary energy sources for space and water heating. However, natural gas and propane are also used, within a small proportion, to provide energy for auxiliary equipment, such as the propane for stoves and natural gas for space cooling services.
The petroleum products, such as light and heavy fuel oil, combined represented 11 percent of the total energy use in the commercial/institutional sector in 2009. The bulk of these products were used in Quebec (43 percent). These products were used in a smaller proportion in the Atlantic provinces (23 percent) and Ontario (16 percent). According to the 2008 Commercial and Institutional Consumption of Energy Survey (CICES), petroleum products were used mainly in educational services (especially universities), health care, retail services and public administration.
However, rapid growth in these petroleum products has been observed since 1999 – especially in consumption of heavy fuel oil, which increased 224 percent.
One reason for these product increases may be that secondary distribution of fuel marketers is included in the commercial/institutional sector, but these marketers find their way out of the sector through re-sellers to industry and transportation. To help account for this activity, NRCan and Environment Canada sponsored Statistics Canada to conduct the Survey of Secondary Distributors of Refined Petroleum Products (SDRPP) in 2010. This survey could have a significant impact on the energy demand statistics for refined petroleum after the data have been integrated in the Report on Energy Supply and Demand in Canada (RESD).
As shown in Figure 4.6, seven end-uses were responsible for the growth in commercial/institutional energy use. This growth is consistent with the overall increase in commercial/institutional floor space in Canada, except for street lighting, which does not relate to floor space activity.
Energy used for space heating increased 26 percent between 1990 and 2009. While space heating continues to be the primary end-use in the sector, auxiliary equipment use has shown a large increase in energy requirement (170 percent) resulting, in part, from increasing computerization of work spaces (Figure 4.6).
As shown in Figure 4.7, the office subsector accounted for the largest share of energy use in 2009 (35 percent). This subsector includes public administration and activities related to finance and insurance; real estate and rental and leasing; professional, scientific and technical services; and other offices. Retail trade (17 percent) and educational services (13 percent) were the next largest users. Offices also had the largest increase in energy consumption, using 143.4 PJ more energy in 2009 than in 1990, followed by retail trade and educational services, which saw increases of 59 and 37 PJ, respectively.
Several indicators can help describe the growth in energy use in the commercial/institutional sector, including the number of employees, floor space and GDP. Figure 4.8 shows that floor space had increased 39 percent since 1990 and the number of employees in this sector had increased 40 percent.
While some gains in energy efficiency were made in terms of overall energy use per floor space, this was offset by an increase in energy requirements for auxiliary equipment. There was not only an overall increase in computerization of the work environment in the commercial/institutional sector during this period but also an increase in the actual number of devices required per employee.
In the commercial/institutional sector, energy intensity refers to the amount of energy used per unit of floor space (GJ/m²).
As shown in Figure 4.9, accommodation and food services consumed 2.52 GJ/m² in 2009, followed by health care and social assistance, which consumed 2.49 GJ/m². They are the most energy-intensive activity types despite a slight decrease observed in the energy intensity of the subsectors. This may be attributable to the energy-demanding nature of their activities (restaurants, laundry) and services (extensive hours of operation), as well as the proliferation of electronic equipment with high energy requirements (such as medical scanners).
The commercial/institutional sector as a whole experienced a small decrease in energy intensity in terms of energy consumed per unit of floor space (GJ/m²). However, the sector reduced its energy intensity by 21 percent when measured against economic activity (PJ/GDP).
Energy efficiency improvements in the commercial/institutional sector were very similar to those in the residential sector. They include changes to the thermal envelope of buildings (insulation, windows, etc.) and increased efficiency of various energy-consuming items in commercial/institutional buildings, such as furnaces, auxiliary equipment and lighting. The estimated energy efficiency improvements resulted in a 146.9-PJ energy savings for this sector between 1990 and 2009 (Figure 4.10).
Figure 4.11 illustrates the influence that various factors had on the change in commercial/institutional sector energy use between 1990 and 2009. These effects are as follows:
5 Among the sectors presented in this document, the commercial/institutional sector has the most significant data limitations.
6 Commercial/institutional sector emcompasses all services-producing industries in Canada,