October 24th marks a significant milestone as OPEN Technologies launches the first expression of our innovative retrofit roadmap tool for homeowners and cities.
Starting Tuesday, each of the nearly 70,000 ground-oriented homes in Saskatoon will receive a virtual energy score and a roadmap to improve the efficiency and comfort of their home. The sum impact of all of these roadmaps is a city-wide pathway to reduce residential energy and emissions by two thirds!
The Energy Challenge
Residential energy consumption is a significant contributor to Saskatoon’s carbon emissions, making up 42% of the total. The City has a target to reduce residential energy use by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This is where OPEN’s software project comes into play.
The Home Energy Map project has two main objectives:
- To empower homeowners: It educates and engages homeowners, guiding them on the path to greater comfort and energy savings, and connecting them with resources, like the City’s Energy Coaching service, for next steps.
- To guide future program development: Simultaneously, it provides the City with insights into which energy conservation measures (in which homes) show the greatest potential benefit.
The good news? Our AI-enabled analysis shows that – if every Saskatoon homeowner implements their recommended energy conservation measures – the city can reduce its energy and carbon emissions by two thirds!
The challenge? There’s no “80-20 rule” situation where 80% of the reductions come from targeting a small number of homes. Meeting the goal will require significant buy-in across the housing stock, and a transformation of the local retrofit sector.
The Home Energy Map
We can’t see where we’re going unless we know where to start. OPEN’s web tool begins by providing the estimated energy consumption and carbon emissions for Saskatoon’s 70,000 ground-oriented homes. In looking at the city-wide map, viewers can see the overall distribution of home energy performance, and segment their view by neighbourhood, housing type, and age to spot the relationship between these factors and overall performance.
Broadly speaking, the visual map shows a “hot centre” – with older neighbourhoods showing the red and orange indicators of high energy consumption – and a general trend toward cooler colours (ie. lower energy consumption) as development expands outward from the core over time.
Home energy performance by year built, showing current performance of homes built in the 1910s, 1960s, and 2010s.
After seeing the broad performance trends – and maybe comparing their home’s scores with those of their neighbours – homeowners can claim their home to update their score with additional information and receive a personalized “retrofit roadmap.” This roadmap suggests energy-saving measures, estimated savings, and project costs (including federal rebates!).
How It Works
The Home Energy Map was developed using OPEN Technologies’ AI-driven buildingand energy modelling tool. This model utilizes publicly available home information from tax assessment records (such as type of home, year built, floorplan, etc.) and was trained using anonymized information from a large dataset of real Saskatoon homes that had gone through the EnerGuide for Homes process. This data has been used to create a tool that replicates standard energy model results with impressive accuracy. It is coupled with anonymized retrofit cost information from various sources in Saskatoon to provide homeowners with a retrofit pathway, complete with project cost and payback estimates.
Saskatoon’s Reduction Pathway – Which Actions?
The data shows that the average Saskatoon home consumes about 180 GJ of energy per year, representing about 9 tonnes of CO2 emissions with today’s energy grid.
The pathway to a two-thirds reduction starts through investing in air tightness, insulation, and windows to keep their homes efficiently heated or cooled. Then, shifting from fossil fuels to electric heat pumps is a game-changer, reducing energy consumption by 36% and GHG emissions by 32%!
While older homes offer the most significant potential for savings, the City’s ambitious targets require engaging homeowners across the board. There are not many original homes left, but this initiative offers something for everyone.
In summary, OPEN’s partnership with the City of Saskatoon is an exciting step towards a greener future. By utilizing the personalized retrofit roadmap, homeowners can play a significant role in reducing their carbon footprint and energy costs. This initiative is a win-win, benefitting homeowners and the environment alike, and it’s a powerful move towards a more sustainable Saskatoon.