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Advisors make business energy efficiency… more efficient

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If you're interested in learning what you could save from energy-efficiency upgrades, but never have time to get around to it, you're in luck.

Depending where you live in the province, two programs are now providing energy advisors to small and medium-sized businesses – for free.

"Typically business owners are very busy and have a lot on the go, so energy efficiency is just one more thing they have to do," says Peter Sundbergy, Executive Director of City Green,  a non-profit organization involved in delivering both of the new advisor programs.

"So we have professionals who can go in, take a look around a business, and provide recommendations," says Sundbergy. "All the business owner has to do is make someone available for the amount of time it takes for someone to come and visit – and depending on the size of their operation, that could be as little as 15 minutes."

Advisors provide options, tips

Based on the site visit, the advisor provides a written report that identifies the best options the business has for reaping savings from energy efficiency – and for gaining support from incentive programs such as BC Hydro's Product Incentive Program (PIP).

"When I go visit a business, I help identify where they'll get the best bang for their buck, where the payback is one, two or three years instead of 10," says Maya Chorobik, a City Green employee acting as an energy-efficiency advisor under BC Hydro's new Small Business Advisor program. "Things like outdated T12 fluorescent tube lighting, or incandesecent exit signs, or if it's a kitchen, replacing old freezers. That's where PIP can really shorten payback."

While BC Hydro's program is available to small and medium-sized businesses located in the Lower Mainland, LiveSmart BC's new Small Business Program provides Business Energy Advisors in various communities across the province. (Read about the LiveSmart BC program.)

Where does a business start?

The programs differ slightly, but both help business owners over the hump towards better energy efficiency and support them in accessing incentives.

"Not knowing where to start is the biggest hurdle," says Chorobik. "So that's one of the biggest things we can offer, as well as being able to understand the incentives.

"We can help facilitate the upgrade process from beginning to end: show them the numbers, help them prioritize, help them make the decision. And then following up, answering questions, providing advice if they want to learn about different options. We're there for the duration if they're interested."

And the service is free. "There's no reason not to do it!," says Chorobik. "Even if you think there aren't a lot of opportunities for you, or even if you're not going to do any upgrades right away, you can get the information and plan for them down the line."

City Green advisors have already visited restaurants, consulting firms, retailers and other types of businesses.  The BC Hydro program is also available for non-profits, such as housing organizations and strata councils. 

Says Sundberg, "We're seeing huge interest among business owners in terms of saving energy, but also in the environmental impact they have. A lot are coming to us now thinking about the environmental benefits of doing these kinds of upgrades and the importance of that for their business.

"They like getting the hard numbers about helping reduce greenhouse gases and saving energy; it's tangible proof of their commitment. As an organization that tries to get people excited about conservation, it's been really inspiring to see. It's great that programs like the BC Hydro Small Business Advisor program are helping make it happen."

To request a consultation with a BC Hydro Small Business Advisor in the lower mainland, call the BC Hydro Power Smart Business Helpdesk at 1 866 522 4713.

To find a LiveSmart Business Energy Advisor serving your area call LiveSmart at 1 866 430 8765.