As he walks through Vancouver schools Dara Bring, Electrical Supervisor of the VSB maintenance department, spends a lot of time looking up - waaaay up - to the ceiling. That's because he spends a lot of time thinking about the lighting. "Lighting is a big factor in schools," explains Bring. "Lighting impacts the mood and tone of the facility, and it's one of the primary electricity uses in a lot of our schools."
For close to a decade, Bring's team of electricians has been implementing lighting upgrade projects through the District. Retrofitting lighting has multiple benefits. The classrooms get better lighting quality - which is an aid to learning, safety is improved when old fixtures are replaced with modern seismically restrained lighting fixtures, and of course there are the savings.
"Each year the VSB implements projects that reduce electricity consumption by about 500,000 kWh per year - that's the equivalent of 2-3 elementary schools. That's a savings of over $50,000 that is felt right away and continues year after year moving forward," explains Ron Macdonald, VSB Energy Manager. "Lighting is a key target area for savings. With electricity prices increasing there is even greater urgency for conservation."
How do these projects come together?
The first step is energy audits-technical reviews that identify the savings opportunity. Annual budgeting confirms the available funding and VSB trades staff perform the installation. There are many demands for funds and staff time, but the facilities team has maintained a commitment to implement a few projects each year. Some projects are eligible for an incentive payment from BC Hydro, which is used to fund the next year's energy audits and help to keep momentum going. For Bring and his team, the results are evident everyday: better light, better schools and lower costs.
The VSB is part of a BC Hydro PowerSmart program for energy managers. It provides support and incentives to energy conservation actions. To learn more about the VSB's energy plan or other sustainability measures please check out the VSB Green Board. https://www.vsb.bc.ca/vsb-green-board