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Short lease? Energy-efficiency upgrades can deliver quick payback

Maya Chorobik, business energy advisor
Maya Chorobik, LiveSmart Business Energy Advisor

LiveSmart BC energy advisors can help identify best bets for retailers

For many retailers, leasing is a key barrier to making energy-efficiency upgrades. The shorter the lease, the less they believe they will benefit from investments in energy efficiency.

But an energy expert working with retailers says there are cost-effective upgrades that will improve your energy efficiency, even if you don't own your building.

Maya Chorobik is a LiveSmart BC Business Energy Advisor (BEA) with the Retail Council of Canada, in partnership with City Green Solutions. She specializes in helping retail business owners make energy efficiency upgrades, and says there are upgrades with a short payback period to make the cost savings worth it.

Look for quick savings: start with lighting

If a business doesn't know how long it will be in a building, Chorobik recommends energy-efficiency upgrades with a short payback period. In retail, lighting is often a big energy user, both in the shop space and in back rooms where lights may be on all the time.

Some quick payback opportunities include:

  • Upgrading T12 fluorescent lighting to more efficient T8 or T5 fluorescent lights
  • Switching screw-in halogens and incandescents to LEDs
  • Adding occupancy sensors to ensure unnecessary lights are switched off.

In some cases, payback periods can be less than 12 months.

Lighting retrofits can result in brighter lights and better colour rendering, which improve the retail experience and enhance the appearance of merchandise. (Read how an eco toy store in Vancouver was pleasantly surprised by the warm-toned lighting quality of LEDs.)

Energy advisors help hire contractors, navigate incentives — for free

The Province's LiveSmart BC: Small Business Program provides business energy advisor services free of charge to eligible small and medium businesses that spend less than $200,000 annually on electricity expenses. "It's an easy way to get free energy efficiency expertise and find out what measures exist to save you energy and money," says Chorobik.

There are two stages to the business energy advisor program. The first stage involves contacting a local area BEA and getting a free energy assessment to see what energy saving opportunities are available. From there, businesses review the assessment results and evaluate whether there is budget available to proceed with the recommendations.

For businesses that are ready to move forward, energy advisors will provide guidance from start to finish. It is this second stage where the advisor helps to make the upgrades happen. Chorobik says, "The BEA role can range from making phone calls to getting quotes from contractors. We can assist with the end-to-end process and even help navigate utility incentive programs."

Find a business energy advisor

The LiveSmart BC: Small Business Program has BEAs located geographically across the province, as well as sector specialists in the Lower Mainland. See the BEA map to find one in your area.