Excel Seminar 201 Fundamentals and Advanced Tools

Humber ASHRAE had the pleasure of welcoming Michael McEvenue back to host an Excel workshop for students and branch members in February. Michael is a Humber graduate from the Sustainable Energy Building Technology program and past president of the Humber ASHRAE branch (2011/2012).  He was kind enough to donate his time and expertise for us to learn and also capture his workshop on video.

It is uploaded here as a tool for anyone that would like to delve into the useful tips that can help a novice navigate excel software and maximize its potential. It is in two parts as to accommodate the length of the seminar that was held. It begins with a brief background of Michael’s credentials, followed by the topics that will be covered.

Some key topics include:

  • Keyboard shortcuts, Tables,
  • Slicers,
  • Data Cleaning & Basic ETL (extract, transform, and load),
  • Paste Special,
  • Sumifs,
  • Index and Match,
  • Conditional Formatting,
  • Pivot Tables 

Follow along in the exercises using this file20170215 – SEBT – Excel Seminar – Michael McEvenue

part 1

part 2

 We hope you enjoyed this workshop, hopefully it helps with your professional development. A special thanks to Michael for putting together a great presentation, as well as Jeff Taylor and Toban Mills for capturing it and making it available to the public.


Excel-based Data Management and Visualization

The Humber ASHRAE student branch was recently visited by Jesse Gadzinowski, Energy Analyst at Enbridge Gas, who showed some of what he considers to be essential excel skills. We captured a video of the lecture, so you can learn about Basic Data Management and Visualization, even if you were unable to join us for the event. Functions that were covered include:

  • Databases
  • Filtering
  • Pivot Tables

Follow along in the exercises using this file: all-opps-8feb2016

Special thanks to our guest lecturer, Jesse Gadzinowski, who took the time to prepare relevant and interesting material, and to Toban Mills and Jeffrey Taylor who captured and processed the video.

Cisco office Tour at Waterpark Place

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Humber ASHRAE begin their Tour of the CISCO offices in Toronto with Bill MacGowan P.Eng., CEM.

On February 3rd, members of the Humber ASHRAE student board were lucky enough to get an extensive tour of the CISCO offices at WaterPark Place down at Queens Quay in Toronto. Some background on what CISCO does:

” [We] shape the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for our customers, employees, investors, and ecosystem partners.”

You maybe wondering why Humber ASHRAE would be interested in what CISCO provides, since ASHRAE’s focus is primarily on Building Science; however, we came to learn that CISCO has a lot to offer our industry.

Systems they offer:

  • Power over ethernet
  • Smart monitoring
  • BAS (Building automated systems)
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The Innovation Centre Room at CISCO

Starting on January 12th, CISCO opened their doors to the Innovation Centre. A room that contained products from 11 different companies that tackled business problems that were concerned with energy usage, security networks, and building automation systems.

A few of the Innovations that stood out:

  • AERE LIGHT – A LED lighting system that is in a film form. You can literally roll it out like wall paper and it lights up by touch.
  • INVIXIUM ACCESS – fingerprint recognition
  • DELTA CONTROLS – Complete integration of building control systems into CISCO’s network of “The Internet of Things.”
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Video connectivity is huge in CISCO’s world

Next were ushered into one of many conference rooms that focused on Video chat. Through video chat CISCO has reduced their travel needs up to 40%. That is a huge reduction in GHG emissions.

The offices themselves and their mechanical needs are all automated and has sensors everywhere, providing ease of use and energy savings. One the interesting trends in CISCO is seeing is that the IT room is now becoming larger, while the mechanical room is shrinking due to things like power over ethernet and BAS.

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Power over ethernet

Humber ASHRAE would like to extend their sincerest gratitude to CISCO and tour guide William Macgowan. CISCO is changing how new buildings are designed, built and managed, which shows the exciting future of how buildings can be experienced.


By: Chad Thurlow

ASHRAE at the Heart of Ontario’s Power System – IESO Tour


A group of SEBT were recently given the opportunity to visit the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in Mississauga. The IESO is described as the heart of Ontario’s power system with the important mission of balancing the supply and demand for electricity in Ontario.

Kate and her colleague Paul, who generously took the time to meet with us, provided us with an informative presentation on IESO operations. IESO and OPA is going through a merger starting next year and this will likely bring on a number of changes. During the presentation, we were situated in a conference room overlooking the control room. At the end of the presentation, Paul called down to give the go-ahead on opening the curtain. Of course, all students were fascinated by what was displayed below.

The importance of IESO is emphasized when looking into the heart of the operation. In the control room there are system operators that go through months of extensive training in simulators before they take off the training wheels and go live. Each operator has ten monitors with constantly updating information. In addition to that, a wall of monitors supply any other information needed. They display weather conditions for predicting renewable energies, news channels that are used to forecast behavior and energy consumption, as well as constantly updating information on power generators in Ontario and adjacent provinces and states. There is a tremendous amount of live data on current demand and production of any large generator connected to the grid.

Former systems operator Paul’s refers to the control room as the air traffic center of electricity. He describes his work experience in the control room “like playing a big videogame” and encourages all interested students to apply for summer jobs with IESO. He mentions that if you have a sharp mind then it might be you in that control room one day.

We soon made our way to look at the HVAC equipment and part of the power supply. The IESO has an enormous backup battery system and diesel generators in the case of a power failure. This ensures that even in the most critical hour, IESO should still have a constant supply of electricity to help balance the power of Ontario.

The students left in awe of what they had seen and with new gained respect for the forces at work to keep our lights on. If you are interested in more opportunities like this one, then get involved or stay involved with the ASHRAE Humber College Student Branch.

Written by Emilia Lundh


It may not be the flashiest or hippest software, but at some point you are almost certainly going to have to use Microsoft Excel. “Of course”, you say to yourself, “I know how to use Excel. We did that in grade three”. The problem is, while most of us can use Excel, not all of us know how to use it wisely. If you find yourself awash in ‘#REF!’ and ‘#DIV/0!’, maybe it’s time for a refresher.

Luckily, the eloquent Keith Davidge was happy to share his knowledge at our first Excel Seminar on October 21. Drawing on his workplace experience, Keith covered a wide variety of Excel topics that ASHRAE students should find useful.

One simple trick we learned was how to use ‘IF’ statements to get rid of annoying errors. When a cell uses another cell in a formula, this is called referencing. When a cell that is referenced is blank, the formula that references it can return an error. We can get around this problem by adding a logical test to our formula, for example =IF(K5<>””,D5/K5,””) . This tells Excel to perform the calculation ‘D5/K5′ only if there is a value in K5, and if not then to leave it blank.

Another frustrating source of errors and confusion can be the misuse of relative references. By default, cell and range references are relative. This means that when you copy, for example, the formula =SUM(A1:A3) into column B, it will change to become =SUM(B1:B3). This is sometimes very useful, but not always. Ways around this are to cut (ctrl+x) or insert rows instead of copying (ctrl+c). Another solution is to use absolute references instead, which look like this: =SUM($A$1:$A$3).

It’s one thing to sort through a messy spreadsheet you’ve created yourself, but trying to figure out someone else’s mess is a different battle. This, we learned, can be made a bit easier with the ‘trace precedents’ and ‘trace dependents’ options, found under the formulas tab. These show the relations between cells with a handy arrow.

Conditional formatting was another highlight of the seminar. Excel 2013 has a number of cool formatting options, like data bars and color scales, that are easy to incorporate into your worksheet. However, it is important to remember that while these formats are there to assist in visualizing data they shouldn’t hinder readability.

More seminars are planned for the future, so stay tuned. Our next event will be dealing with some important ASHRAE standards that you need to know, both now and later in your career.

Written by Cassandra Heide

So, you want to be an Energy Manager?

As our understanding of building systems adapts to the brave new world of Energy Management, it is essential that students keep up with current trends in how we manage our built environment.  That being said, it was our great honour to host Scott Rouse of Energy@Work for our very first event of 2014.  Not only was he an incredibly dynamic and engaging speaker, but he also had very practical advice for those of us looking to energy the field of Energy Management.

Energy Management is the practice of lowering energy costs by reducing consumption through careful evaluation of energy usage.  Energy Management strategies can help companies financially by reducing utility consumption, can reduce emissions with greater efficiency and can help companies to be more socially responsible.


Step 1: The Right Stuff

To get where he is today, Scott built on an extensive background of qualifications to create his skill set as the lead of Energy@Work. He is a Professional Engineer, Certified Energy Manager and Sustainability Development Professional, to list just a few of his qualifications. All the letters after his name indicate the importance of ongoing education within this dynamic field.  Whether you have an advanced diploma, an engineering degree or experience in a related field, it’s always important to maintain credentials and pursue greater knowledge.

As students, more education isn’t always our concern.  Often, what counts the most is experience.    Luckily, the scope of energy management is such that work with utilities, companies or consultants are all potential avenues for success.

Step 2: Know Thy Industry

This is of course true to be successful no matter what type of employment you’re in, but it is essential in the green sector as emerging technologies drive rapid change. Scott discussed a number of trends that he summed up with 5 key words:

Transformation – use lots of different metrics for optimal performance!

Transparency – changes made to the building should be made apparent to the tenants

Context – make your changes effective to maximize the investment

Timelines – keep your measurement dynamic

Experimentation – keep up-to-date with technologies and implementation and don’t be afraid to try new things!

Using benchmarking, real-time monitoring and a focus on safety and tenant comfort, Energy@Work has become a great success. Since 2007, they’ve helped to save over $700k in energy and achieved emissions reductions by 240,000 kg CO2e/year.  Those are some pretty impressive statistics!  Those of us interested in energy management can hope to be a part of making positive changes like these within our own careers.

At present, job prospects appear to be pretty good.  With the right training, we can be poised to meet the demands of property managers as utility prices continue to rise and legislation emphasizes demand-side management.


Step 3: Maximize Your Skills

In addition to the key skills of leadership, finances, communication and technical ability, Scott was kind enough to point out some advice that’s especially helpful for new grads:

  • Listen!  Take the time to learn from the expertise of co-workers
  • Network
    • Membership in organizations such as ASHRAE
    • Attend trade shows and conferences
    • Network with whoever you can!
    • Keep yourself aware of trends in the industry, news and politics

TTC Gunn Building Technical Tour – Nov. 27, 2013

On November 26th a group of ASHRAE students were given the opportunity to tour the mechanical systems behind the Toronto Transit Control Centre. This tour was held at the David L. Gunn Building in the Hillcrest Complex given by Claudio Bertoldi, a veteran in HVAC systems for TTC facilities.

Part of Claudio’s responsibility is monitoring and controlling the settings of each facilities system. A building automatic program allows him to see schematics of the inner workings of each mechanical system and it will alert him with any malfunctions. Through this program he is easily able to identify and compare which parts are efficient. For instance, Claudio quickly recognized that “efficient” automatic air duct fans which turn on/off depending on demand broke down often, and tended to have trouble turning on/off at the right times. With Toronto transit replying on its facilities to be working these small failures can have a large impact.

Pic 1

Above – UPS batter back-up

After seeing the schematics of the TTC facilities we were given a walking tour of the building. The building is equipped with an emergency power supply that will immediately start with any outage. It is capable of uninterrupted power through a battery bank and a diesel generator back up. The server room was massive with cables running everywhere, and it required dedicated chillers and an under floor supply plenum. This one building had two air handlers, one on each level. The boiler room was decorated with colour coded water pipes; purple for domestic hot water. This building is also responsible for carrying the emergency power back up for other TTC facilities.

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Above – Server room under-floor supply plenum

The most interesting part of the tour was seeing the Transit Control Centre which has a panel of enormous screens lined up along an entire wall, displaying live footage of subway carts, surveillance videos, maintenance at a station and so much more. Directly in front of these screens are the many men and women that are continuously working to keep the city’s transit system moving. In order them to be able to do their work all mechanical systems in the building must be fully functional.

Special thanks to Claudio Bertoldi and the TTC for the wonderful tour!

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Group photo with the old Transit Control board




F.E.S.T.I. Tour

The first tour of the year was Awesome!

F.E.S.T.I. – Fire Emergency Services Training Institute – Is an 8 year old building that functions as a training facility for fire fighters around the world. With state of the art technology perfectly engineered to work with the HVAC system, there was a lot to see and a lot to be impressed by.



The front right sloped part of the wall shown above is a solar wall that heats the air behind it and through simple convection, feeds into the outdoor air of the HVAC system.  This lowers the delta T (temperature) for the system, and reduces the overall energy needed to heat the conditioned space.

The white tower like structures are:

  • Left – stairwell using free lighting through opaque R-20 fibreglass wall.

  • Right – a solar chimney that helps move excess warm air at ground level into the HVAC system.

The ceiling in the building was designed using Thermodeck. This concrete prefabrication has connecting holes in it that allow the conditioned air to flow through it to the desired (and controlled) spaces. While doing so, it heats the floor and ceiling (which warms that area as well) and once it gets to its destination, flows into desired rooms like regular ductwork.


This picture shows the regular ducts work bringing the conditioned air to the specific Thermodeck where it works it way through a network of engineered holes covering the largest surface area possible, then being released into the space.

Because of the thermal efficiency of the building, the size of the boilers needed for this 36,000 sqft space is very small. They are also able to run the entire hot water heating system off of these instant hot water heaters (they have a high need for showers due to the fire training). These hot water heaters will only run when there is demand for them to, and rarely reach the maximum design output of having all five running (the farthest to the right is the controller).  They sequence between the five of them to create desired water temperatures using Natural Gas as their energy source.



Something that was integrated into the building design was a very neat floating stair system.  It works based on balancing the weight of the concrete stairs with an overhanging deck, where study areas are.


Two days were offered for the tours. Each group had a great time and learnt quite a bit too!

Thanks for participating! We hope to see more of you at our next event!

Feel free to email us at ashrae.humber@gmail.com with any tour, events or speaker ideas.