Stories & Features

Welcome the future of energy reduction in B.C.

Image of the Skeena River
B.C. is known for its natural beauty, but with a growing population and rising emission levels, it's up to us to keep it that way.

Keeping B.C. green with CleanBC plan

As we all know, B.C. is one of the most beautiful places in the world. But with a rising population and a changing climate, how can we all ensure it stays that way?

CleanBC is the Provincial Government masterplan that aims to achieve B.C.'s legislated climate targets of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the year 2030, based on 2007 levels.

How does CleanBC impact businesses?

While significant GHG reduction is something that directly affects more industrial businesses, all businesses will still be impacted by the Better Buildings program, which requires that every building becomes more efficient. The plan is to tackle this by improving the BC Building Code and increasing efficiency standards. Every new building will need to be 'net-zero energy ready' by 2032.

CleanBC also provides an effective blueprint to grow our economy, which means B.C. businesses stand to capture a significant share of the growing clean energy and low-carbon market.

How your business can play a part

You're probably wondering how smaller service and hospitality businesses like shops and restaurants can make a significant difference. Switching heating and cooling to a heat pump and exploring LED lighting are two of the most effective ways to make a difference. Whether you own your building or are trying to persuade your building owner to invest in infrastructure upgrades, we'll explain what you need to know.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps efficiently heat and cool buildings by transferring thermal energy, which gives them two key advantages. If you install and manage them properly, they can significantly offset greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, while also reducing heating and cooling bills.

And yes, you read that right: cooling. Heat pumps are not only heating devices that can replace your electric or gas heating system, they can also add air conditioning to a building at the same time. This is great for buildings that currently do not have air-conditioning, especially as we face increasingly hot summers.

Achieving these benefits needs some careful planning, though. If your current system is powered by electricity, then a heat pump is potentially going to offer some significant savings on bills, along with reducing your energy usage. However, if your current system is all natural gas, or a hybrid, then understanding fuel costs is critical to determining your financial savings. Either way, a switch to efficient electrification will have significant GHG emission reductions.

"Many people believe that you can just replace a boiler with a heat pump, but it's not a straightforward swap. Businesses need to ensure they're consulting with qualified personnel," says Christian Cianfrone, Executive Director of ZEBx, the Vancouver-based zero emissions building exchange.

Whether you're renovating a commercial building or building a new one, you can find the latest information on incentives for electric heat pumps (and a whole range of other energy efficient products) with CleanBC's Better Buildings tool. It's quick and easy to configure your exact requirements and see relevant incentives or programs currently available. You can also get help or advice from Daniel Coffey, CleanBC's Small Building Better Buildings Energy Coach.

LED Lighting

At BC Hydro, we talk about LED lighting a lot because it can generate noticeable savings that pay back the initial investment very quickly and then continue reducing your bill and B.C.'s energy usage well into the future. A great example of this is the United Flower Growers Cooperative Association (UFGCA) story that we featured last July. Despite adding more flower coolers, lighting & more staff, UFGCA have still seen an overall reduction in power consumption of around 25% since 2016. Let's take a look at how they made that happen.

UFGCA is housed in a 232,000 sq ft warehouse in Burnaby. This is used to store and auction fresh flowers, requiring a lot of lighting and cooling. UFGCA General Manager, Dennis Lawson says: "Before the LED upgrade, we had around 1,800 individual fixtures throughout the building."

Dennis worked with the BC Hydro Alliance of Energy Professionals, where he found a local lighting specialist who helped him reduce 1,800 fluorescent fixtures down to 675 LED lights, which created much brighter light. When the savings on maintenance and replacement tubes and ballasts are factored in, UFGCA estimate the upgrade will have paid for itself in roughly two years.

How do I start planning the future of my business?

As well as the latest incentive and program information, CleanBC's Better Buildings tool features excellent FAQ sections for both new and existing buildings, covering a wide range of topics, and packed with plenty of useful resources for you to start exploring the best options for your business.

Let's not forget BC Hydro's incentive offers. Take a look and get in touch to see how we might be able to help your business make some savings.

Together, we can all contribute to achieving CleanBC's exciting goals and position B.C. as a world-leading, low-carbon location to live and work.