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With energy prices expected to rise every year, the time to invest in energy saving initiatives is now. If all business took action to reduce energy consumption, we would be on our way to a cleaner, healthier, and more resilient downtown core. We are not without leaders; many businesses are already taking action, from coffee shops to breweries. Learn how to reduce your consumption, lower your energy bill, and take part in the green movement.

The largest contributor to Canada’s GHG emissions is energy”.
–Natural Resources Canada


Behavioural Change

Businesses downtown have found that simple changes in behavior can reduce energy bills by 10-25%. Here are some simple actions you can encourage within your business.

Office and Retail Spaces

A 10% decrease in energy costs has an equivalent impact on operating income as a 1.26% increase in sales for the average retail store”.

  • Turn off computer and monitor when not in use and shut down computers at night
  • Unplug equipment such as microwaves, printers, coffee machines and any other small appliances that suck energy while not in use (vampire loads)
  • Consider only lighting the area you are directly working in as oppose to using overhead lighting
  • Keep windows closed when there is considerable temperature variation between indoors and outdoors
  • Utilize space heaters in times of low occupancy
  • Lower thermostat by 1 degree

Laptops use 50% or less energy than the average desktop unit? Try to work off them whenever possible.

The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that phantom loads account for 10% of the average energy bill. Try getting a Smart Strip power saver or iGo Green towers. These are programmable power bars that can help save energy. They typically cost between $35-$50.


Restaurants use about 5 to 7 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings, such as office buildings and retail stores”.

  • Cut idle time on your equipment by implementing a start-up/shutdown plan.
  • Take the time to do a regular thermostat check on your appliances, refrigeration, dishwashing machines, and hot water heaters and reset them to the correct operating temperature.
  • Ovens tend to be more efficient than rotisseries; griddles tend to be more efficient than broilers. Examine your cooking methods and menu; find ways to rely on more energy-efficient appliances.
  • Cut back patio heater use—both for hours of operation and for the number of patio heaters running at any given time. These devices heat up quickly so there is no reason to leave them running if a seating area is temporarily empty.
  • Older gas-burning appliances typically feature pilot lights, which require a constant stream of gas to stay lit. Check pilot flames occasionally to make sure you’re using only as much gas as you need.


Hotels, motels and restaurants account for approximately 1.1 percent of the total end-use energy consumed in Canada with approximately $1.5 billion in energy bills, 84 million gigajoules (233 million equivalent kilowatt hours) of energy consumption and 5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year”.
- Natural Resources Canada

  • Have housekeepers turn off guest room lights, televisions and radios when rooms are unoccupied.
  • Have housekeepers turn off heating and cooling systems in unoccupied rooms or have them reset the thermostats upward or downward.
  • Educate your housekeeping staff to use natural lighting when making up and cleaning guest rooms, limiting their use of artificial light.
  • Install a weatherboard in your housekeeping area to remind employees how to set guest room cooling-and-heating equipment. Post colour-coded guides based on daily weather forecasts.
  • Check for worn and cracked caulking and weather stripping on doors and windows of all rooms, including those that have been permanently closed.
  • Install low-wattage bathroom and foyer night lights to discourage guests from leaving on less-efficient lights.
  • Place tent cards and decals in guest rooms to offer specific energy efficiency suggestions for guests.

Simple Energy Retrofits

Energy retrofits do not have to be a huge undertaking. The table below identifies the top energy savings opportunities with the shortest paybacks and that are simple to implement.




#1 LED Exit Signs
Energy Savings: 95%
Payback: 6 months
These are typically on 24/7, resulting in a quick payback and $300 in lifetime energy savings. They last 5-10 years, reducing maintenance labor.
1. Upgrade existing incandescent or CFL sign with retrofit kit
2. Replace existing sign with an LED model
Power Smart Rebate
Recycle old signs with Pacific Mobile Depots
#2 Occupancy Sensors
Energy Savings: 50%
Payback: under 6 months
Use in storerooms, hallways, washrooms and meeting rooms. Power Smart Rebate
#3 Florescent Tubes
Energy Savings: 50%
Payback: 2.5 years
Switch from T12 models to more efficient T8 or T5 models. These bulbs flicker less and create a better ambiance for staff and customers. Power Smart Rebate
#4 Replace Incandescent with CFL Bulbs
Energy Savings: 80%
Payback: under 8 months
These screw-in bulbs don’t require an electrician; they have a great payback and a rebate. Power Smart Rebate
Recycle incandescents with the DVBA reCYCLISTS. Note: Please be careful when disposing of CFL bulbs.
#5 Install Efficient Power Bar
Energy Savings: 10-15%
Payback: under 1 year
Install a "Smart Strip" which controls power flow to appliances based on whether or not they are in use. Power Smart Rebate

Jawl Properties implemented energy efficiency retrofits in half of its property portfolio in 2008, reducing energy use by 22%.

To shorten payback periods, BC Hydro's Product Incentive Program has incentives for everything from light bulbs to pipe insulation. Take advantage of these programs and start saving now!

Try adding strip curtains and automatic door closers to your walk-in refrigerator. They are inexpensive and easy-to-install. Strip curtains can cut outside air infiltration by about 75 percent!

Comparing Light Bulbs

"Upgrading your entire lighting system to a new, energy-efficient system can reduce your energy use and your energy bill by 40%."
– BC Hydro

Are CFLs really better? CFL bulbs reportedly last eight times longer than incandescents and consume a fraction of the energy. When properly recycled to reclaim the mercury and other useful elements, CFLs are a great green option. DVBA reCYCLISTS will recycle your old bulbs and tubes.





60 Watts 750-1000 hours (3-4 months) $1-$3
Compact Florescent
13-15 Watts 6000-1500 hours (2-4 years) $4-$8 ($5 with BC Hydro incentive)
15 Watts 17 years $40-$60
Cold Cathode
3 Watts 4-7 years $10-$14

Typical payback periods are cut in half when installing energy efficient lighting in spaces that are lit 24 hours a day such as parking lots and garages.

If you need dimmable lights for ambience, use cold cathode or dimmable CFL bulbs. Replace those energy-sucking incandescent and realize serious energy savings.

An ENERGY STAR CFL light bulb can save more than $40 in energy costs, uses 80% less energy and produces 75% less heat compared to a standard incandescent bulb.

Habit Coffee on Pandora switched from 60W incandescent bulbs to 13W CFLs. As a result they save 5850 KwH, which translates to annual savings of $335.

Energy Audits

An energy audit is a great way to learn about your energy use and identify custom efficiency options. It can also provide access to grant and rebate programs.

City Green offers free energy audits for small businesses that spend less than $50,000 per year on electricity. An advisor will visit your business and identify energy savings in areas such as hot water, lighting, heating and insulation. This is a great way to ask direct questions about incentives and rebates. Call City Green’s Business Energy Advisor at 1-250-381-9995.

Many small businesses in the downtown core have taken advantage of City Green’s free energy assessment including Habit Coffee, the Central Building, and Sauce Restaurant.

Albrite Wholesale Lighting Distributors offers free energy audits that determine your potential lighting savings. They can also help you access BC Hydro’s Product Incentive Program.

Fortis BC has a free Energy Assessment Program for commercial spaces that consume more than 2,000 GJ/year. They also have Industrial Energy Audits available for customers using more than 10,000 GJ/yr.

Equipment and Appliances


ENERGY STAR rated equipment and other efficient appliances are great investments for businesses. Generally, ENERGY STAR equipment uses 25% less energy compared to standard models. Check out their website for a full list of qualified products, ranging from commercial griddles to enterprise servers.

Thinking in the long term can really pay off. In the case of ENERGY STAR qualified connectionless steamers, for example, the water and energy savings over a conventional boiler-based steamer could add up to several thousand dollars in just one year! Multiply those annual savings by the entire life of the appliance and the financial benefits of energy efficiency become truly striking.

Equipment Operation and Maintenance

Don’t let everyday wear and tear drive up your energy bills. While a leaky gasket, clogged burner or loose oven-door hinge may not waste much energy, combine all three and suddenly the waste is significant. Stop waste by staying on top of repairs.

  • Train staff to operate and maintain systems to maximize energy efficiency
  • Keep machines in good working order by cleaning and inspecting regularly
  • Use clear signage to indicate maintenance and cleaning equipment schedules

The Guide to Greener Electronics was produced by Greenpeace and rates the top manufacturers of computers, phones and TVs according to their recycling, climate change and toxic chemical initiatives.

Refrigeration systems can be one of the heaviest users of energy in a business. They are a great place to reduce energy use – and energy bills – by up to 24%.” – BC Hydro Powersmart

Hand Dryer Options

You wash your hands several times per day. What is the best way to dry them off? A simple question, with many options. Here is the breakdown:






Efficient Hand Dryer 12-30 Seconds Quiet, very low environmental impact   Approximately $96/year in energy
Conventional Paper Towel Less than 10 seconds Dries quickly Forest-guzzler Approximately $2000/year in paper costs
Roll-Cloth Dispenser Less than 10 seconds Low environmental impact Maintenance issues and vandalism-magnet Approximately $600/year in cloth rolls

Employee and Tenant Engagement

BC Hydro has a 6-step system for Workplace Conservation Awareness:

  1. Establish a clear vision and set goal. Example: energy savings of 10% this quarter.
  2. Select an ‘Energy Champion’ and create a team from all areas of business.
  3. Assess the workplace and profile your audience.
  4. Develop a communications plan to facilitate behavior change.
  5. Implement your energy reductions plan and monitor results.
  6. Recognize and Reward.

Incent your tenants to reduce their electricity consumption by presenting the business case for cost savings and providing the necessary resources. For example, help them with the paperwork for rebates and suggest energy saving initiatives with great paybacks.

Jawl Properties Green Team launched a Workplace Conservation Awareness Program to encourage employees and tenants to adopt energy-saving behaviors. The program has fostered a significant culture change
– BC Hydro

Synergy, a local environmental consulting company, developed a series of “green energy tips” for Central Building. The “energy tips” are distributed to tenants every month by the property managers with the overall aim to reduce the building’s energy consumption and engage tenants in the greening process.

In addition to reducing our ecological footprint, taking environmental action has allowed us to set an example for our community, and create healthier, more positive environments for our stakeholders”.
– Janina Ceglartz, CEO/GM Heritage Realty Properties Ltd.

For Swans, energy saving measures are integrated in the training process, and included in their training manuals. For instance, exterior lights on the building are turned off after hours. To conserve energy, lights are turned off in the patio area of the restaurant when the sun is shining. There are signs all around the building reminding staff to turn off lights, including in the administration office. In addition to employee engagement programs, Swans undertook a significant energy retrofit where incandescent “Fire Exit” signs were replaced with long lasting energy efficient bulbs, saving more than 43,000 KW per year, approximately the consumption of 4 single family homes in a year, according to BC Hydro.

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