BC Ferries saves energy, from lighting to radiant heat in tollbooths

Image of Gillian Nishida, BC Ferries
Gillian Nishida of BC Ferries says the bulk of the corporation's energy savings have come from lighting retrofits. But innovative changes such as radiant heat in a welding workshop and in the ceiling of tollbooths have paid off, too.

Annual savings of 335,000 kWh just the start for energy manager Nishida

With 47 terminals plus additional buildings, energy management at BC Ferries means overseeing widespread locations, each with different infrastructure and needs.

But for the corporation's energy manager, Gillian Nishida, it all adds up to a tremendous opportunity for energy savings.

In the past year, Nishida has spearheaded energy efficiency projects that total annual savings of about 335,000 kWh — enough to power the equivalent of 31 homes.

The project list includes:

  • A lighting upgrade for the parkade at the Horseshoe Bay terminal, replacing 190-100W high pressure sodium fixtures with 58W LEDs
  • A heating retrofit for the Tsawwassen terminal that included the use of radiant heat ceiling tile.
  • Four lighting upgrades through the Power Smart Partner Express program
  • Two Self-serve Incentive Program (SIP) lighting retrofits, one in Horseshoe Bay and another at the Fleet Maintenance Unit in Richmond

Energy efficiency upgrades offer increased comfort as well as savings

In Tsawwassen, Nishida replaced forced air heaters in a welding shop with radiant heaters at each workstation. Radiant heaters warm the person, instead of the entire shop, making workers more comfortable while reducing actual heating needs.

Next, baseboard heaters in the tollbooths were replaced with radiant heat ceiling tile. "It looks exactly like regular ceiling tile," says Nishida. "But it radiates heat on the terminal attendant instead of heating the air in the booth, which is important because they are frequently opening and closing the window to talk to the customers.

"We also installed programmable thermostats to maintain heating set points in the toll booths."

Drawing power from the energy manager network

Nishida credits BC Hydro's Energy Manager Education Series with making her job a bit easier.

The workshops provide energy managers from across B.C. with information on the latest trends in energy management and Power Smart program updates. They also offer an antidote to energy manager isolation: an opportunity for energy managers to meet one another and share ideas.

Nishida is a regular participant. "There are usually two or three [workshops] a year," she says. "They give program updates about changes to the Power Smart incentive programs that [energy managers] may or may not have heard about. It's also good to get to see what your peers are doing."

Nishida says the most valuable part is engaging and networking with the other participants.

All aboard: behaviour change team helps reduce energy use

Fortunately, Nishida isn't alone in her goal to save energy at BC Ferries. While she plans infrastructure and equipment projects, BC Ferries' energy conservation team works to get employees onboard and celebrate energy-saving successes.

"Our workplace energy conservation team, the Watt Now team, has been very important in educating our employees about responsible energy use," says Nishida. "They focus on behavioural and operational best practices to reduce energy usage."

The team uses newsletters, contests, games, interactive days and other initiatives to engage employees and empower them to take action in their work area.

Continued improvement: energy studies

BC Ferries has continued work on the Tsawwassen recommissioning and optimization project, and has completed energy studies at Swartz Bay terminal and Horseshoe Bay terminal with incentives from BC Hydro. Nishida says several recommendations from the energy studies will be implemented as capital projects this year.

With all that BC Ferries has done to date, Nishida says it's hard to pick which project has been the most valuable.

"We've probably saved the most with lighting retrofits — many different-sized projects all put together add up," she says. "And we have lots more potential for radiant heating in tollbooths and near baggage doors."

About the Power Smart Partner Program

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

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