New lighting saves energy, brightens condo building parkade

Lighting upgrades in the parkade of the River's Reach condo building in Steveston will save condo owners nearly $4,000 a year.

The River’s Reach strata council thought the owners of the 150 units in their four-storey, Steveston-area condominium building would like the idea of saving energy through lighting upgrades in their parkade, but they were wrong. The owners loved it.

Why? How about nearly $4,000 in annual savings as a result of an upgrade offset by more than $5,000 in Power Smart incentives.

“The parkade is much brighter and nicer now, and everyone is impressed with how good it looks," says Vera Gammert, president of the River's Reach strata council.

The challenge: find ways to “green up” the building

“Ours is a relatively young strata council,” says Gammert, “and we’re very much into reducing, reusing and recycling, and into the idea of doing all we can for our environment. So we really wanted to find more ways to ‘green up’ our building.”

The solution: energy-efficient lighting in the parkade

Gammert already knew something about energy conservation through her job as a project manager, and had heard that BC Hydro offers rebates for eligible energy-efficiency projects. Together with the rest of the council, she brought the idea of retrofitting the 259 inefficient T12 fluorescents in the parkade – as well as old-fashioned incandescent exit signs throughout the building – with more efficient lighting to the strata’s annual general meeting.

“It was approved overwhelmingly,” she says. “Everyone was in favour of going greener, but it was also very important to them that we could receive a rebate of more than $5,000 from BC Hydro toward our costs. It brought our payback time down to less than five years, and it may end up being even less than that.”

 The benefits: cost savings, strata reputation, better lighting

River’s Reach completed the two lighting retrofits in July 2008. By the end of January 2009, the strata council had spent about $4,000 less on electricity than it had for the year before. Because energy-efficient lights last longer and do not need to be replaced as often, the strata’s yearly maintenance costs will be lower as well.

“It’s to everyone’s benefit to keep our costs down,” says Gammert, “especially because strata fees just seem to always be going up and up. We’d rather spend any extra money we might have on some great landscaping or other visible project that will help our building be even more attractive to the people who live here and prospective buyers as well.”

Energy efficiency is also a great selling feature, she says. “If two buildings are otherwise equal, buyers will look favorably on the one where the council is innovative and proactively working on saving energy and keeping costs down.”

A closer look: costs and savings

The lighting retrofits at River’s Reach will save the condo building 59,583 killowatt hours of electricity every year, which equates to $3,396 annually.

Here's a look at the upgrades in the project:

  • No. of T12 fluorescent lamp fixtures converted to T8 fixtures: 259
  • No. of Incandescent exit signs converted to LED signs: 23

And a look at the savings:

  • Annual savings on bills and maintenance: 3,396
  • Electricity saved each year (kilowatt hours): 59,583
  • Value of Power Smart incentives: $5,080


About BC Hydro's Product Incentive Program

Discover just how much your building or business can benefit from energy-efficient lighting and other technologies – right now and for years to come. With the Power Smart Product Incentive Program (PIP), products that qualify for incentives will lower your payback time and make upgrade projects even more attractive.

Products offered under the program include:

  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs are ideal for areas where lights are left on for long periods, such as hallways, because they use up to 75% less energy than regular light bulbs and can last up to 10 years.
  • Energy saver T8 fluorescent tubes. These tubes are 50% more energy efficient than older models and work well in common spaces or meeting areas.
  • LED exit signs. LED signs use only 10 per cent of the energy old-fashioned incandescent signs do and last anywhere from 10 to 25 years – which means you will save about $12 per sign, per year.
  • Lighting occupancy sensors. With these sensors, the lights will go on only when someone is in the area, so you stop wasting energy.


Source: BC Hydro News