Like many other small business owners, energy efficiency wasn’t at the top of the list for Orca Book Publishers owner Andrew Wooldridge.
“There’s always enough to do without thinking about what you could be doing,” he said.
But after growing pressure from his staff to be more environmentally aware, he set up an energy assessment with Matt Greeno, an advisor with City Green, a non-profit organization focused on energy efficiency.
Wooldridge said the main problem was the outdated fluorescent lights in the Orca’s two-floor warehouse, which he hadn’t worried about because they were rarely turned on.
But because replacing the lighting will save him money, he’s keen to undertake the change.
The free assessments are part of the new Live
Smart B.C Small Business program, a three-year initative that aims to get businesses to be more energy efficient.
Capital Region business owners with annual hydro bills under $50,000 can receive a visit from an advisor, who assesses the building’s lighting, heating, hot water and ventilation systems. The advisor then makes up a report with suggestions to save energy and money.
The advisors also help owners access the other components of the program, like rebates on energy-saving upgrades and product installation.
City Green has partnered with the Capital Regional District and the Westshore Chamber of Commerce to carry out the consultations in the Capital Region.
Greeno said replacing old fluorescents often isn’t a priority for most businesses.
Many people are only renting their space, so the financial responsibility for the energy upgrades often falls on the owner, he said.
But there’s an incentive for both parties.
“The renter wants to make it look better and the owner wants to save money,” he said.
“Their interest is related to the bottom line. They’re concerned about how much they’re spending.”
The program aims to save more than $7 million a year in utility costs for the province, said Sandra Steilo, communications officer with the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines.
It was developed with input from local businesses, the B.C Restaurant and Food Association and Shelfspace, a community group that represents retailers.
Greeno thinks that before the Small Business program, there weren’t many incentives available to persuade the commercial sector to do retrofits. Most initiatives focused on homeowners, he said.
The program is open to any business that wants to participate.
For more information, visit www.citygreen.ca or call 250-381-9995.