Energy-efficient lighting cuts energy costs at Canada Line stations

Closeup of Canada Line station at Vancouver International Airport.

Posted by Rob Klovance

Major new projects in B.C. often give BC Hydro Power Smart a chance to strut their stuff. And the new SkyTrain line to Richmond and the Vancouver International Airport is no exception.

BC Hydro Power Smart worked with SNC Lavalin to make sure all 16 Canada Line stations have energy-efficient lighting. Designed to take advantage of daylight, the above-ground stations feature high-efficiency fluorescent lamps and ballasts and a state-of-the-art lighting control system.

The lighting system, designed by Total Lighting Solutions, will help save the stations more than 1.4 gigawatt hours of electricity annually. That's enough to power close to 130 homes in B.C. for a year.

It also doesn't hurt that the energy-efficient design will also save TransLink about $80,000 a year compared to stations with traditional lighting design, plus another $40,000 a year in maintenance savings.

It's just the latest example of how Power Smart, working on everything from the new Vancouver Convention Centre to the Richmond Skating Oval, is helping facilities operators lean on energy-efficient technology to cut energy use and costs.

Meanwhile, CO2 emissions are reduced

One of the pluses of SkyTrain expansion is that it helps B.C. reduce its carbon footprint.

Steve Crombie, vice-president of communications for the project's private partner, told The Province newspaper recently that 100,000 passengers are expected to ride the Canada line daily by 2010. Crombie estimated that the Canada Line will contribute to the reduction of 14,000 tonnes of carbon emissions by 2014.

Will those expectations be met? That will depend in large part on just how many people switch from cars and diesel buses to commute by SkyTrain, and on just how many people feel a SkyTrain ride to the airport is convenient enough for them.

From downtown Vancouver to the airport, a cab ride costs around $30 when a decent tip is factored in. For three adults taking the Canada Line from downtown to the airport, the cost will be $6.25 apiece — or $18.75 total — when the $2.50 SkyTrain-to-airport charge kicks in next year.

So, as much as I like the idea that cabs I've been taking for the last few years have been hybrid vehicles, I'll do what I can to take SkyTrain to the airport from now on.

But switching to the Canada Line will take an adjustment. On my last family trip to France, we pushed the limits of our free-of-charge baggage allowance because we insisted on bringing along sports equipment. As much as I don't mind being a bit of a family Sherpa on such trips, hauling 60 kilos of luggage three blocks to the nearest Canada Line station will be a bit of a challenge.

Frankly, I think I'll opt to pack more efficiently next time, and it's nice to see that the new SkyTrain cars are designed to take into consideration those carrying luggage.

Still, toting heavy bags to the nearest SkyTrain stop may not be everyone's cup of tea, particularly if there's a bus connection to be made to a Canada Line station. For many, the convenience of door-to-door service will win out.

Rob Klovance is managing editor of Views expressed in Unplug This Blog! are not necessarily those of BC Hydro.