Several businesses in Oceanside have taken advantage of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce LiveSmart BC Small Business Program — and not only are they now saving money on their energy bills; they are also reducing their carbon footprint.
Executive Director Kim Burden said they were selected as the umbrella organization to provide the services of a Business Energy Advisor to businesses. As a host agency for the LiveSmart BC program they have done energy audits on more than 80 businesses and completed a number of changeovers on the Central/North Vancouver Island, Powell River and the Sunshine Coast.
He said the concept is fantastic and the chamber jumped at the opportunity to be part of it when they were approached by LiveSmart BC back in January.
“I was sold on the triple bottom line; social responsibility and environmental responsibility which create a positive economic flow.”
He said the program’s advantages are numerous including the fact that it is free for small businesses that spend up to $50,000 per year on electricity.
The chamber received funding to hire a Business Energy Advisor who completes an energy audit at a place of business and then hooks them up with a wide variety of grants to complete their energy upgrade.
Brian Pasquill has been busy working directly with businesses to identify potential energy and money saving opportunities, including lighting, hot water, heating and ventilation improvements.
Burden said he covers a territory from Duncan to Port Hardy, Powell River and the Sunshine Coast and has been successful in finding huge savings for businesses.
“It is a bottom line issue for many businesses working with thin margins. Here is a way for them to save some dough,” he stated.
Burden said businesses who upgrade old and inefficient equipment qualify for grants and incentives from BC Hydro.
“In many cases he (Pasquill) has found ways where the rebate exceeds what they are going to pay for an upgrade and it puts money in their pocket.”
He said the chamber took advantage of the program converting the lighting in their own building and the energy savings has been significant.
Burden said he used to have to borrow the ladder from the museum on a regular basis to change their light bulbs but now that they have changed all of their fluorescents to LEDS the power bill has gone down.
“I am a bottom line guy and we are contributing to decreasing our environmental footprint and that is a good thing,” he said.
He said the fact that the Parksville chamber is promoting the greening of business not only in our community but elsewhere on the Island raises their profile.
Boston Pizza in Parksville is one of about 50 businesses in Parksville that has shown some green leadership and taken advantage of the program. Owner Bill Collette said not only is he saving money on his energy bill, he is no longer spending his time changing light bulbs.
“I used to change about two light bulbs a week. I was always up on the ladder,” he said.
Collette said his old incandescent bulbs have been replaced with LED lights and it has made a huge difference.
“We went from 90 watts to 17 but we find we are dimming the lights because they are so bright.”
He said customers appreciate the improved light because they don’t have to strain to read the menu.
He said although the new light bulbs cost more money, they last longer and he said with the grant they received from BC Hydro it just made financial sense to do the conversion.
Overall he said he is saving about $200 per month on his hydro bill.
Burden said BC Hydro doesn’t want to invest in new infrastructure and if this program can reduce energy consumption by helping businesses use greener technology he is all for it. He said the current program goes until April, 2012 but he is confident it will be expanded because so far they are achieving their targets.
He added the chamber will be looking at the economic development potential of attracting businesses that supply energy saving devices taking advantage of the opportunity to look to the Oceanside region as a leader and potential base for their operations.
“If we could become a demonstration place for that sort of technology and build clean renewable energy products for the future, I think it would be a good fit for the community.”
He said green energy development has to be part of the next generation’s job prospects.