Brewery's industrial lighting project a "no-brainer"

Vancouver Island Brewery

At Vancouver Island Brewery, they refill their bottles, offer their used grain for animal feed, and have replaced older sales vehicles with energy-efficient cars. Then they focused their environmental ethic on their lighting.

"Some of the employees were saying, 'lt's getting a little dark in some areas,'" says Brent Pottage, plant operations manager for the brewery. "We had old 400-watt metal halide lighting, and they were giving a sort of 'orange-y' light."

Pottage looked at for information about industrial lighting upgrades. He also spoke with lighting suppliers, who walked him through the Self-Serve Incentive Program, a three-step process for applying for incentives for energy efficient industrial upgrades.

Incentives help craft brewery save money, get 1.2 year payback

The project replaced lighting "from top to bottom" in the brewery's Victoria-based plant, from the front of the office, through the beer store, brew house, and tank storage. The project saves an estimated 130,000 kWh of electricity per year, and qualified for a Power Smart incentive of $18,930.

"We've increased production, but our BC Hydro bill has gone down," says Pottage. "And we figured, with the incentive program, we have about a 1.2 year payback, which is incredible. We looked at the project and said, 'That's a no-brainer, that makes total sense for us.'"

The brewery is also saving money on maintenance costs. Because of high ceilings in the production area, Pottage must bring in special equipment to replace lights. The energy-efficient T-5 fluorescent lights last significantly longer than metal halides, meaning less time and money is spent on changing light bulbs.

"More natural" light delights employees

An added benefit of the project was the impact on employees. "One of the first comments I had once the lighting project was complete was that everybody was so much happier," says Pottage. "The light looks more natural, it's much nicer to work in. It just seemed to increase the mood down on the floor."

Pottage was delighted with the ease of applying for a BC Hydro incentive. ("I think it was within a day, or less, that I had the answer back that it was approved," he comments.) But he says working towards better efficiency, and protecting the environment, is just part of Vancouver Island Brewery's broader philosophy.

"The ownership group and employees are committed to do our absolute best for the environment along beautiful Vancouver Island; we want to keep it that way, for our families and everyone," he says. "I'm hoping more and more people will take advantage of the incentives; I definitely recommend it for other businesses. It fit nicely into what we are trying to do."