LED Lighting Retrofit of a Strata Building in B.C. – A Success Story

Heritage Grand is a picturesque strata nestled in Port Moody, British Columbia, and consists of a collection of 158 spacious townhouses built in 1996 with shared underground parking. It’s strata council was increasingly concerned about the escalating Hydro bills and constant budget overruns. It turned to Chelsea Leask, Property Manager at Profile Properties, for help. With insights and valuable experience gained from prior cost reduction projects, Chelsea contacted Titan Enersave and requested an energy audit and LED lighting retrofit proposal which was eventually presented and approved at Heritage Grand’s AGM in March 2017.

  • Following are highlights of the lighting retrofit of Heritage Grand which all property managers and administrators should find instructional and serve as a useful guide when advising their strata clients regarding cost savings opportunities:
  • Annual energy savings of 162,000 KWh (972,000 KWh over 6 years) representing a 54% reduction in lighting energy consumption.
  • Annual energy cost savings of $16,200 ($96,000 over 6 years)
  • Annual maintenance cost savings of $3,600 ($21,600 over6 years)
  • Investment required: $46,897 (Turnkey. All inclusive. Including taxes)
  • Investment per strata unit: $297 each.
  • Investment payback period: 2.27 years

The strata’s Treasurer sent the following note to all parties involved in the project: I would like to acknowledge how pleased we are with the new lighting installation. It has made such a difference to our complex and have received many compliments regarding this upgrade. Thank you.” Priceless !

Property managers need to become proactive in this area. It does not require much extra effort on their part to get quotes from a few retrofit vendors, who will perform the energy audit at no cost. The excuse that “it’s not my job” or “i’m too busy” will not cut it. As gatekeepers, Property managers have an obligation and duty to educate their strata clients on cost saving opportunities. Besides that, think of the huge impact on the environment from upgrading a single high rise building. In the example above, nearly 1 million KWh of hydro energy will be saved over the next 6 years, which is something to be proud really proud of, n’est-ce pas ?

Other items of interest:

In a typical high rise, the parking area consistently accounts for 60%+ of the building’s total lighting consumption, representing the most significant opportunity for energy cost reduction.

Also keep in mind that lighting, which is only one component of a strata’s Hydro bill, usually accounts for about 50% of total common area energy consumption. Furnace, elevator, HVAC, air circulation fans, etc, account for the balance.

Anil Mehra, CA,CPA,

Your Building is Wasting Money

Energy Star, the energy audit experts, say that buildings account for 50% of the energy used in the US. The unfortunate fact is that $0.30 of every dollar spent on expenditure is lost through inefficiencies. About 30% of the energy used in big buildings is lost. Older buildings are especially prone to energy leakages.

How big buildings waste energy

  • Poor energy controls

Most buildings with several sectors consuming different energy cannot tell which sector is consuming how much energy. This is due to the lack of sub-metering. This also means that people working in those buildings cannot see the direct correlation between their activities and energy use. Wasteful habits are common which include leaving the lights on at night, leaving computers and other machines on stand-by, and unnecessary use of hot water taps.

  • Inefficient HVAC working

No matter how efficient a HVAC system is rated, there are things that invalidate this high efficiency. It is common to see people switching on the AC while the windows are open, or while direct sunlight is still coming into the room. Gaps in the buildings structure also leak in cold air making the heater work harder than it should. Clogged filters also require the HVAC to work harder to move the air.

  • Old elevators

Old hydraulic type elevators that are over 20 years old had bigger motors that worked slower. The motors had a power rating of 50 HP unlike modern elevators that have smaller but more powerful motors. The higher horsepower rating of the hydraulic elevators is lost through inefficiencies.

How to save energy and money in buildings

  • Shading systems

Intelligent blinds can be installed to give shade automatically according to the glare of sunlight. This reduces the working load of the HVAC.

  • Intelligent lighting

Good lighting controls can utilize daylight and artificial lighting more efficiently. Lights come and vary in intensity depending on the brightness of daylight. Wall switch dimmers can also be installed in areas with a lot of natural lighting. Dimmers have been shown to reduce power consumption by bulbs as much as 50% while extending their lifetimes.

  • Occupancy sensors

These sensors turn off the power when the area they cover is not occupied. These sensors work well for areas that are infrequently used like storage rooms, conference rooms and the restrooms.

  • Load controls

Plug load controls help eliminate vampire power draws in working areas. They will cut off power to machines on stand-by mode when these areas are not occupied.

Doing an energy audit is the surest way of identifying how a big building is losing energy and the correct remedies for these leakages.

How Elevators are Wasting Energy for Your Building

Every high-rise building must install an elevator. This is a requirement by ADA (Americans with Disabilities) Act of 1990. The federal law was enacted to stop discrimination against people with disabilities by private entities.

Elevators account for up to 5% energy use in buildings and this can easily go up to 15% during peak hours. While many ideas on saving energy have come during energy summits, none of them has focused on energy efficient elevators.  In this guide we discuss how elevators waste energy for your building and measures you can take to stop the wastage

Hoisting

Hoisting is the mechanism that is used to pull the elevator up. Hoisting can either be hydraulic or traction. Hydraulic lifts use more energy, are expensive to maintain, and use cable ropes. This is an old technology mostly found in elevators manufactured in the 1990s.

Traction hoisting is a new technology that uses coated belts and counter weights, is affordable to maintain, and will save you money in the long run. Traction also efficiently cuts down the amount of time between floors.  Replace your old hydraulic elevator with the traction lift.

Idle Time

Elevators are left running even when not in use, this wastes a lot of energy. According to ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) improved controls, which are inexpensive, help save energy by turning off ventilation systems and lights when the elevator is not in use. You can also save energy and money, especially in residential building, by shutting down the elevator during off-peak hours.

Lighting

Though lighting does not hog a lot of energy in elevators, replacing older model bulbs with LED bulbs will be a smart money-saving move. This will cut power use. You can also get LED push buttons.

Destination Dispatch

Elevators waste a lot of energy by having stop at every floor. Destination dispatch involves pressing the floor number while outside the elevator. This system is efficient because it groups and delivers people in an efficient manner.

At any given time there over 1 million elevators in operation and half of those are hydraulic. Most of these elevators are over 20 years and therefore nearing their end of life. Though elevators don’t use a lot of energy, the costs will eventually add up.

You can check the energy efficiency through smart tracking. You can also hire a skilled consultant to check the energy efficiency and to make improvements where needed.