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Nanaimo Curling Club to save $2,480 a year on lighting costs

With a tight budget, curling club delivers on energy efficiencies that will pay off

Success in curling depends on good strategy and teamwork, strengths that the management and board of directors at Nanaimo Curling Club applied to energy-efficiency upgrades at the club.

Nanaimo Curling Club is a community-minded, non-profit organization that relies on membership dues, some grants, and event proceeds for most of their funding. The club strives to maintain low operational costs in order to keep the dues affordable and ensure curling is accessible to more people.

"We also want to shrink our carbon footprint," says Denise Wood, the club's manager. And energy efficiency is a winning strategy to achieve all those goals.

Low-maintenance induction lighting: whiter, brighter — and quieter

This past summer, the club took out the old metal halide lighting above the rink and replaced it with low-maintenance induction lighting that uses one-third the energy.

The old lights wore out quickly and were costly to replace. "We would try to change all the lights in the off-season, but bulbs would burn out, often right before we were hosting an event," says Wood. "We'd have to build scaffolding on the ice to get up and change them."

When they decided to upgrade their lighting, one of the club's members, an electrician, researched the best lighting options for the rink. "We have a low-emission ceiling over the rink with holes that were cut to fit our lighting," says Wood. "We didn't want to have to get a new ceiling as well."

They decided to go with induction lighting because it works with the existing ceiling, and the lights will last 15-20 years without requiring maintenance.

BC Hydro estimates these 52 fixtures will save between 2,000 and 3,000 kWh of energy per month, adding up to a financial savings of about $2,480 annually. In addition, the upgrade qualified for both BC Hydro's Product Incentive Program and an additional 10% top-up incentive through the LiveSmart small business program, totaling $6,864 in incentives.

Wood says the club has been getting a lot of positive feedback about the lighting. "The quality of the light from the new fixtures is whiter and brighter, which is better for curling," she says. "And it's quiet. The old lights used to hum, which was annoying. Now it's dead quiet out there."

Lobby, lounge and exit sign lighting upgraded

The lighting upgrade was just the most recent step in the Nanaimo Curling Club's ongoing efficiency upgrades.

Over the past four years, they have been gradually upgrading the lights in their lobby, changing older T12 fluorescent ballasts for efficient T8s whenever one needed replacing. They've also replaced all the lighting in the upstairs lounge with T8s, and all their exits signs have been upgraded to LED models.

"The exits signs didn't cost us anything," says Woods. "With the incentive, we got back what we paid."

More efficiencies: dehumidifier, chiller and brine pump

The club also upgraded the sensor on their dehumidifier to make it more efficient, put in a new chiller for the ice, and, in 2011, they installed a variable speed brine pump.

Woods says, "The pump cost $7,100 and the incentive was $5,200, so that was very sweet. And it makes the plant run more efficiently, the compressors aren't running as often, which saves energy."

Next steps: double pane windows and more

The curling club isn't finished yet. They still have plenty more upgrades they'd like to make.

"We have a roof that needs replacing and we'd like to install double-pane glass in the upstairs viewing area," says Wood. "It keeps the cold side cold and the warm side warm. We've done the lower level already."

And, down the road, the club would like to do heat recapture from their compressors and use that to heat the lobby and hall.

Teamwork is the secret to success

For other businesses looking to upgrade their energy efficiency, Wood offers some advice: "Use all your resources. We have 850 members from all walks of life curling here weekly — doctors and lawyers and janitors and electricians. We mingle and get to know each other and network, and we certainly draw on them for our planning," she says.

As well, the 12-member board of directors knows how to transfer their on-ice teamwork to off-ice decision-making.

"The board is a very diverse group," says Woods. "And somebody always knows somebody that knows something about something."