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Red Barn Market keeps store fresh with Power Smart improvements

Image of Russ Benwell at Red Barn Market
Red Barn Market manager Russ Benwell says energy efficiency fits into the overall environmental vision of their stores. Photo by Nik West Photography.

New heat pumps and better lighting among improvements for Victoria-based stores

Victoria's Red Barn Market has built a reputation for supporting local growers and producers, offering customers organic, ethically raised options and crafting many of its own items right in-house; and extending this environmentally conscious philosophy to its physical buildings just made sense.

Through the BC Hydro Power Smart Express Program, Red Barn underwent a series of store improvements this past fall that shone a light on where they could slash energy consumption. In the end, the results have positively impacted more than just their carbon footprint.

"At Red Barn Market we are always looking for opportunities to improve, and so when we were adding an exterior section to our West Saanich store, energy efficiency was part of that [decision]," explains manager Russ Benwell.

In particular, the Victoria-based company—which has a total of four grocery stores—added two heat pumps to substantially increase the efficiency of its heating system, and looked at how changing their existing lighting to efficient new LEDs could save energy and money. The company expects to enjoy energy savings of up to 75 per cent over their older, inefficient incandescent lighting, Benwell notes. As an added bonus, the new lighting has also greatly enhanced the experience for Red Barn Market's customers.

While the company expects to recoup its investment for the new lights in about 24 months, "we saw immediate benefits from an aesthetic perspective," Benwell says. Spurred on by that initial project, the Red Barn team also took the opportunity to look at two additional stores, which also suffered from outdated, inefficient lighting. "I'd have to say it was a very positive experience and we're enjoying the benefits of a very well-lit store with the added benefits to the environment."

By working with BC Hydro, Red Barn was also able to tap into rebate programs to help offset the cost of the improvements, Benwell notes.

"There were definitely some up-front costs to re-lighting our stores, but the long-term benefits make it worthwhile," he adds.

"As well, there's the impact of the initiative on Red Barn Markets' overall carbon footprint and our company values. We speak often about managing our business efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner, and we want to do what we say we do."

This story originally appeared in BCBusiness on January 19, 2015.