Ontario is proposing a new regulation that would require electricity and natural gas utilities to adopt a standard known as the Green Button. Utilities that adopt the Green Button report energy use in a consistent manner and make energy consumption data accessible to users and third parties, with the user’s consent. Utilities would be required to procure or develop the needed software and obtain certification from the U.S.-based Green Button Alliance.
The regulatory proposal has been posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario for a 45-day comment period ending November 22, 2020. It is largely a revival of a November 2017 proposal from the former Kathleen Wynne government that this current Doug Ford government abandoned in September 2019.
A standard like the Green Button is considered a prerequisite to the widespread adoption of energy benchmarking in Ontario. Ontario requires owners of larger commercial and apartment buildings to submit data annually on energy and water use. The requirement was supposed to be extended to buildings at least 50,000 square feet but less than 100,000 square feet on July 1, 2020, but the government made a last-minute change of course and extended the deadline to July 1, 2023 under pressure from building owners.
The government believes that implementation of the Green Button will encourage energy conservation and efficiency. For buildings at least 250,000 square feet, data are currently available by city, postal code and building type. This allows building owners to compare their energy consumption with similar buildings. It may also serve as an incentive on building owners to invest in energy efficiency in order to appease tenants, investors or prospective purchasers.