After the Energy Fix, Donald's Market owner multiplies the savings


A year ago, BC Hydro teamed up with Vancouver-based independent grocer Donald's Market to demonstrate the value of an "energy makeover."

The makeover team predicted the changes would result in a 7-10% drop in energy use at the market's Commercial Drive location, for about $11,000 a year in savings.

What they didn't calculate was the multiplication of savings that would result when Gary Joe, Donald's owner, took what he'd learned and applied it in a new store he opened last fall in New Westminster. As well, the experience has inspired him to install efficient lighting and adopt energy-saving practices at home.

What's working at Donald's Market

Back at Donald's Market on Commercial Drive, Joe says the LED lighting in his dairy cooler has likely had the single biggest visual impact among changes that were part of his Energy Fix makeover.

"There were fluorescent lights in there. And they gave off enough light to find things, but the LED retrofit enhances the look of the products and the light is brighter."

The LED lights also emit less heat, saving energy on cooling, too.

Moving and upgrading the aisle lighting has also made a big difference. "It's easier to see things," Joe says. "There's not extra lighting, but the product stands out better so people can find things more easily."

Customers have commented that the store is brighter, staff finds it to be a better working environment and the savings are already adding up. At last calculation, Joe says the energy savings were at about 5%, but some changes, in particular an upgrade to a cooler, haven't been in place for a full year yet.

"I'm confident when I calculate savings from a year after all upgrades, we will have cut our energy by 7%,:" says Joe. "That's huge. The cost savings are huge."

Up-front costs for a major upgrade can be significant, but BC Hydro's Product Incentive Program helps keep the upgrades affordable.

At the new store: focus on lights, coolers

Joe took his own advice and implemented energy efficient lighting and refrigeration in his new store.

"After learning a little about LEDs and cost efficiency, I started to do more research on cost savings. For the new store, we used LEDs in every cooler. Also for aisles, we used energy efficient lights. I calculated that it will mean about 10% cost savings."

In addition, Joe put in a protocol to run the coolers instead of using compressors. "Protocols use less energy, make less noise, and are easier to run," he says. "Right there it's about 15 to 17% cost savings."

Beyond energy conservation

Donald's Market didn't stop at cutting its electricity bill. They also worked to reduce waste by getting efficient with recycling and developing systems for compost.

And Joe has carried this inspiration a step further at his New Westminster location.

"We're going to work with a pub in the same complex and let them use any produce that is going to be coming due soon, so it won't go to waste," he says.

Joe says he learned a lot from this experience and it made him think about how he does things at home too.

"Now I have 80% energy saving bulbs in my house and I turn off all the lights. If I don't need to be in there, I turn it off. It's not only the savings," he says. "It's more sustainable too."