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Gateway Casinos helps Burnaby non-profit save $800 a year

Image of group in front of L'arche facility
Group gathers in front of Burnaby's L'Arche, a non-profit group that provides housing and day programs for people with developmental disabilities.

$20,000 in donated energy upgrades add up to the gift that keeps giving

When you upgrade inefficient equipment, you save money on energy. And not just once, but every single month afterwards, so the total savings grow over time.

It's the kind of math that Gateway Casinos energy management team knows well. They spend their days looking for ways to help the company reduce energy use and cut costs — for example, by replacing metal halide lamps with LEDs at the Grand Villa Casino.

So when it came time to think about holiday donations last December, Gateway Casinos wanted to think beyond a one-time gift.

"We wanted to give a donation that's going to grow over the years," says energy manager Jeff Lee. "Saving energy adds up. You save today, and then again next year, and for as long as your energy-efficient product is in place."

L'Arche receives new lighting, hot water tank and expertise

With the desire to share their successes with others, Gateway Casinos began looking for a non-profit organization that could use help. Burnaby Board of Trade helped raise awareness to the charity L'Arche, which provides housing and day programs for people with developmental disabilities.

"Their light fixtures were old, end-of-life equipment that no one had the time to address," says Lee. "But if you have someone from outside who can bring in some knowledge and help take care of things, it can make a real difference."

Gateway Casinos assessed L'Arche's facilities, and identified several energy-efficiency opportunities. A lighting upgrade with new fixtures and occupancy sensors and a new hot water tank are saving L'Arche both electricity and gas. Meanwhile, new energy-efficient lighting provides brighter, more uniform light that won't fade or discolour over time.

To pull the project together, Gateway approached their industry contacts for support. There was an overwhelming response from interested participants who were eager to join in. Members of the Power Smart Alliance such as GE Lighting, Steele Electric, Commercial Lighting and ESC Automation all donated equipment and time.

Gateway Casinos acted as project manager, working with L'Arche staff to make sure everything met their needs. Of the various suppliers who participated, Lee says, "They were all happy to jump on board."

To wrap the project, Sancor landscaping volunteered their time to add some new greenery around the facility, and held a photo shoot and refreshments to celebrate the upgrades.

"As a company, we gain so much from each of the communities we operate in and we've seen what L'Arche does and how much it benefits people," says Gateway's director of public relations, Tanya Gabara. "This is something small that we can give back."

Organization will save $800 a year

Gateway's energy management team estimates that the project value is about $20,000, given at no cost to L'Arche. In addition, the new equipment qualified for a BC Hydro incentive — a cheque that goes to the non-profit. Finally the energy savings for the organization will be $1,200 per year, which will add up over time.

"As long as this project is in place, they'll be saving money," Gateway's energy manager Jeff Lee says. "And with the price of electricity going up, the savings will keep growing."