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Lighting upgrade could save office building $39,463 a year

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What would you do with an extra $39,463? The management of the Harbour Centre in Victoria have plenty of ideas — and they're not just daydreaming.

The multi-use office building's recent lighting upgrade is estimated to save Harbour Centre that much money, each year.

The Harbour Centre is no stranger to making upgrades. Since the mid-1990s they have changed the equipment in almost every system in the building to increase efficiency and use fewer resources. But that doesn't mean they don't sometimes encounter surprises.

The upgrade: 32-watt T8 lamps, electronic ballasts

This past summer, the building's management started on a simple plan to upgrade their 32-watt T8 fluorescent tube lamps with more efficient 28-watt T8s. The project became a full conversion, upgrading more than 7,000 lamps and switching 2,050 magnetic ballasts to lower wattage electronic models.

"We knew we had a few magnetic ballasts in the building, but didn't know we had so many," says Allan Teuling, the building's operations manager. "We started relamping and found out the new lamps weren't compatible with magnetic ballasts — they wouldn't light, or they'd flicker. That led us to do an investigation into how many magnetic ballasts we had and that's how we found out there were lots."

The payoff: incentives and six-month payback

The surprise ended up being good news. Teuling took advantage of incentives offered through BC Hydro's Product Incentive Program, as well as the 10% top up offered through the LiveSmart BC Small Business Program.

BC Hydro provided incentives for 5,186 of the fluorescent tubes, which meant Harbour Centre received $67,418 from BC Hydro and $6,741 from LiveSmart BC, for a grand total of $74,159 in rebates.

With energy savings from both the more-efficient ballasts and lamps, Teuling calculates $39,463 in savings per year from the upgrade. That means it won’t take long to recoup the cost of the project.

"The rebates left $19,500 for us to pay," he says. "Our projected savings work out to about $3,288 per month, which means payback for us could be six months."

Management upgrades water system and HVAC, too

Harbour Centre management have been working on the building for years to try to reduce the building's overall footprint and energy use.

"We do anything we can to reduce," says Teuling. "We worked on the water system — replacing all taps, fixtures, and toilets. We changed our emergency generator for a more modern model, so it consumes less fuel when it has to run."

They have also upgraded the heating and cooling systems with new boilers and cooling towers, installed state-of-the-art automation for their HVAC system, and upgraded 200 heat pumps with more efficient models. "The electrical system was our next step to improve efficiency," says Teuling.

Preventative maintenance reduces problems

"Preventative maintenance works," says Teuling, who has been operations manager for Harbour Centre for the past 20 years. "We went through a period in late '90s where the phone was ringing all the time with breakdowns and problems," he says. "Now we hardly have problems ever."

The Harbour Centre building is registered with BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association), which provides a guide and standards for best practices in building maintenance and management, including their BOMA BESt (Building Environmental Standards) certification. Two years ago, the building received BOMA BESt level one, acknowledging the improvements made to the energy and environmental performance of the building.

And what about all the savings? "The money goes back into our budget and into the building," says Teuling. "I'm hoping the next thing I can do is start rejuvenating some roofs."