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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Bright Idea for Alberta Businesses

From the Edmonton Journal:

Lighting program aims to improve commercial buildings’ energy efficiency

By David Finlayson, August 10, 2010

A $4-million pilot program is encouraging Alberta business owners to come up with bright ideas to save energy.

The program launched Monday allows commercial-building operators who retrofit to energy-efficient lighting to apply for rebates up to $375,000. The amount of rebate depends on the value of the retrofit and whether the business is a restaurant, multi-use residential, office building, retail or warehouse.

It is possible to cut lighting costs by 50 to 70 per cent with today's high-efficiency bulbs, Environment Minister Rob Renner said.

Lighting accounts for half of a business's annual electricity cost, and commercial-property owners play a crucial role in the government's commitment to improve energy efficiency, he said.

The program's goal is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 191,000 tonnes -- the equivalent of taking about 40,000 cars off the road -- by 2020, he added.

He said while rebates should not be necessary when the energy savings are clear, building owners are reluctant to embrace new technology or invest the money, especially when the efficient new bulbs cost 10 or 15 per cent more than the old ones.

The key is doing a detailed building assessment under the program to determine the best value for the investment, he said.

Simon Knight, CEO of Climate Change Central which will administer the program, said although high-efficiency lighting is not new, the key has been to get building owners to focus on it. "There have been such huge advances in lighting -- it makes so much sense if you're a building owner. You can demonstrate a strong business case for saving into the future."

The new bulbs are 98-per-cent efficient and last up to 100,000 hours.

"It's another important step in moving Alberta to a more sustainable future."

Rob Scott, energy chairman of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Edmonton, said 70 provincial buildings and 200 commercial properties across Alberta have been certified under its growing BESt (Building Environmental Standards) program for achieving environmental friendliness.

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