Grocery stores eat energy, but Thrifty Foods curbs its appetite

Jerry Wyshnowsky, director of energy and environment for Thrifty Foods.

Energy Management Assessments provided a road map for success

To put it bluntly, grocery stores are energy hogs.

Not only do they have large refrigerators and freezers and other specialized equipment running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they also need lots of lighting so customers can see their products clearly – which in turn can heat up the very spaces the stores want to keep cool.

But Thrifty Foods has found a way to meet that grocery store challenge, simply by becoming a BC Hydro Power Smart Partner.

"Grocery stores are incredibly challenging to manage when it comes to energy efficiency because they are so energy intense," says Jerry Wyshnowsky, director of energy and environment for Thrifty Foods. "As an organization, we are always on the lookout for ways to minimize our impact on the environment, and BC Hydro has helped us achieve energy savings in an organized and sustained manner."

'Most fun I've ever had'

The company has completed a number of energy-saving projects with BC Hydro over the past five or six years, including working with the New Construction Program to make sure its new store in Port Moody's Suter Brook Village, opened in 2008, was energy-efficient from the ground up.

But a big chunk of biggest energy savings has been generated since January 2010, when it became a Power Smart Partner.

"As part of the Power Smart Partner Program, BC Hydro generously pays a portion of my salary to help us meet our goal to reduce our overall energy consumption by 13 per cent by 2013," says Wyshnowsky. "Working with BC Hydro is probably the most fun I've ever had in my career and it's great for the company, too. We're upgrading our facilities to reduce energy consumption, and promoting energy conservation and awareness in our stores."

18 months to fantastic energy savingsdozens of apples

In just 18 months as a Power Smart Partner, Thrifty Foods has gone through two Energy Management Assessments (EMAs) to first identify the most promising and cost-effective ideas, and then later to affirm that they remain on track.

"The first EMA gave us a roadmap," says Wyshnowsky, "a place to start and a clear idea of what to do next."

Following that roadmap, the company has now completed 54 energy-saving projects and begun planning for 70 more, including:

  • Relatively simple energy-efficient upgrades to lighting, refrigeration and mechanical systems in the company's current 26 stores and two distribution centres;
  • More complex state-of-the-art energy-conservation measures in seven planned new stores;
  • Four major renovations;
  • A new 150,000-square-foot distribution centre at the Victoria International Airport slated to open in 2013.

The results so far are "fantastic, absolutely fantastic," says Wyshnowsky. "As a Power Smart Partner, we have saved, and will continue to save every year, over six million kilowatt hours of energy. That's enough to power 545 homes a year, or nearly three additional Thrifty Foods stores.

"And this has, in turn, helped us towards one of our other sustainability goals: reducing our carbon footprint. These great energy savings mean we have avoided emitting 375 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. That's huge!"

Power Smart Partner Express

Jerry is also a fan of the latest addition to the Power Smart Partner Program, Power Smart Partner Express.

"For the simple upgrade projects, Power Smart Partner Express is a quick and painless way to apply for incentives," says Wyshnowsky. "Just go online, plug in what you're planning to do, and the program will let you know right away what you're eligible for and off you go.

"But whether we go the Express route or the regular route, being a Power Smart Partner just makes financial sense. Payback on projects is short, and we will continue to reap the benefits of energy conservation indefinitely."

About the Power Smart Partner Program

The Power Smart Partner Program is dedicated to helping commercial, government and institutional organizations that spend more than $200,000 a year on electricity integrate long-term energy management into their day-to-day operations.

The program includes tools – such as an Energy Study and an Energy Management Assessment – to identify your organization's energy-saving opportunities, support for a full-time Energy Manager, and financial incentives for implementing energy-efficiency projects.

To become a Power Smart Partner, contact your BC Hydro Key Account Manager or call 604 522 4713.