BC liquor stores keep the comfort while saving energy

Energy-efficiency cuts LDB's greenhouse gas emissions by over 30 tonnes

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is part of the provincial government, but it's also a major retailer, operating 197 BC liquor stores across the province that last year alone received over 37 million customer visits.

And that presents an interesting challenge when it comes to energy conservation.

"As part of the provincial government," says Mark Long, the LDB's acting energy manager, "we're required to be carbon neutral and to measure, reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions at all our facilities. And of course, a vital part of GHG reduction is reducing the amount of energy we use.

"But we also have to consider our customers. They expect us to provide them with a pleasant retail experience, which means maintaining good light quality and comfortable temperatures."

How does the LDB meet both its government and customer obligations? By pursuing more and more energy-saving projects through BC Hydro's Power Smart Partner Program.

When being aggressive is a good thing

"BC Hydro has been very instrumental in our ability to pursue energy conservation much more aggressively," says Long. "The incentives offered to us as a Power Smart Partner significantly reduce our payback time, which gives us the flexibility and freedom to do a lot more."

With LDB executive support, this aggressive pursuit of energy savings over the past year and a half has included:

  • Upgrades to lighting and HVAC control systems in existing stores, head office and distribution centres;
  • Installation of new, state-of-the-art lighting technology whenever a store is remodeled;
  • Use of daylighting techniques at the head office to maximize the use of natural light.

Count the savings: energy, GHGs, costs

These Power Smart Partner lighting projects — combined with IT projects that included the installation of power management software on 700 personal computers and elimination of 61 servers through data virtualization — have so far resulted in savings of 1.18 megawatt hours annually, or enough energy to power about 107 B.C. homes per year.

"These initiatives have also reduced the LDB's greenhouse gas emissions by over 30 tonnes," says Peter Martin, a LDB Project Analyst and member of the LDB's Climate Action Team. "This has not only has reduced our carbon footprint overall, but it's saved us money, too, because, as a part of government, we are required to purchase emission offsets a set cost per tonne from Pacific Carbon Trust."

"Phenomenal" staff feedback

Great energy savings and reduced GHG emissions are not the only benefits of the LDB's energy-conservation projects.

"Because of existing configurations, when you change lamps, you also have an opportunity to change the fixtures, and that changes the overall ambiance of a store," says Long. "You wonder what people will think, but staff feedback has been phenomenal.

"The quality of the lighting we have in the stores now is really clear and crisp. They also tell me there's been nothing but positive feedback from our customers."

Today, Long has a new series of Power Smart Partner projects just getting underway, including a potential pilot project to test the use of skylights in the Vancouver Distribution Centre to bring in as much as 30 per cent more daylight, and a comprehensive Energy Study of the LDB's retail stores in the Lower Mainland.

"I know there is a lot of energy loss through entrance, exit and loading doors at our stores," he says. "The Energy Study, co-funded by BC Hydro, will help us determine how we can reduce or eliminate that loss and what other measures we can take to conserve. We can then apply those changes to our other retail locations."

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.

This story was originally posted on in November, 2011.