Saving Energy At Home

Interested in some quick and easy no-cost or low-cost measures to try now?
Using combinations of the following measures can save you 10% to 50% on your energy bills.
Also, BC Hydro may provide technical guidance or other incentives for many energy efficiency measures.

Here’s a menu of can’t-go-wrong items to get you started:

1. Adjust thermostats. Turn down the building’s heating thermostat and turn up its cooling thermostat, especially when the building is not occupied.No Cost

2. Reduce the hot water temperature. Reducing the temperature on your water heater thermostat can decrease heat loss from your tank. For washing hands, you may be able to turn the temperature to 120°F (48°C). Dishwashing may require higher temperature settings such as 140°F (60°C).No Cost

3. Install water flow restrictors and aerators in sink faucets. These measures can save you money by reducing water use (including hot water).Low Cost

4. Reduce lighting. Remove lamps where you have more lighting than you really need, but be sure to maintain safe lighting conditions for work areas. Turn lights off when they’re not in use.No Cost

5. Seal heating and cooling ductwork. Leakage from areas such as joints, elbows and connections can be substantial — as much as 20% to 30%. This is especially costly if the ducts travel through unheated or uncooled spaces such as attics, basements, or crawlspaces. Use duct tape or caulking to seal ducting.Low Cost

6. Wrap the hot water tank with jacket insulation. This simple, inexpensive measure will reduce standby heat loss from the tank. Be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered when insulating a gas water heater.Low Cost

7. Replace air filters regularly and follow maintenance schedules for furnace and air-conditioning equipment. Replacing a dirty air filter can save money by reducing the amount of electricity needed to run a blower motor (because there is less resistance to airflow with a clean filter).Low Cost

8. Install programmable thermostats. These inexpensive devices, most of which incorporate modern microprocessor-based electronics, can help optimize your building’s heating and cooling needs. And you won’t need to remember to change thermostat settings every time you leave the building or return home.Low Cost

9. Install automatic room-lighting controls. Similar to programmable thermostats, these devices help optimize lighting use by automatically turning lights on or off, depending on occupancy or time of day. Sensors and timers work well and are usually installed by a specialist.Low Cost

10. Clean heat exchangers and perform routine maintenance on refrigerating equipment. These simple measures will ensure the most efficient operation of heat exchangers needed for cooling or refrigerating equipment.No Cost

11. Seal off unused areas and don’t heat or cool them. Storage areas are a good place to start.No Cost

12. Buy energy-efficient equipment. When buying appliances, compare energy requirements of various models.Low Cost

13. Seal exterior cracks and holes, and ensure tight-fitting windows. Seemingly small cracks or holes in the building exterior (like walls, windows, doors, ceiling, and floors) can really add up to substantial heating or cooling losses. Install weather stripping and caulking to stop these air leaks.Low Cost

14. Repaint building exterior with light colours. When it’s time to repaint the exterior of your home, consider using light colors. More sunlight will be reflected away from the building, thus helping to keep it cool in summer. This is also true for your roof.Low Cost

15. Keep exterior doors closed as much as possible. Don’t heat or cool the outdoors!No Cost

16. Block and insulate unneeded windows and other openings. Aside from the important security benefit, covering unneeded windows and doors can greatly reduce energy losses from these openings.Low Cost

17. Buy energy-efficient vehicles. When buying or replacing your vehicles, compare energy requirements of various models.No Cost or Low Cost

18. Encourage the family to be energy conscious. The importance of getting family co-operation shouldn’t be underestimated; their practices and activities can make or break efforts such as these.No Cost

Potential Energy Management Measures for Municipalities

1. Arenas

  • More efficient main lighting system (e.g. replacing HID lighting systems with energy-efficient fluorescent lighting)
  • Low emissivity ceiling
  • Increase brine temperature resulting from low e ceiling water-cooled refrigeration system connected to heat pumps and heat exchangers to recover rejected heat
  • Integration of the refrigeration system into the heating and ventilation system
  • Brine pump control (brine pump sequenced with the compressors)
  • Turn off the brine pump at night and during no-load periods
  • Conversion of the brine circuit from 2 to 4 passes beneath the concrete slab and the associated decrease in pump power
  • The use of two- or variable-speed brine pumps
  • Desiccant dehumidification
  • Infrared heaters to heat only spectators and not the ice area
  • Limit HVAC air movement over the ice
  • Demand control ventilation for building (CO₂ control)
  • Recover waste heat from compressors and exhaust fans
  • Limit number of compressors operating at one time to save demand charge

2. Pools

  • Covering the pool with a pool cover when it is not in use is the single most effective way to reduce pool heating costs
  • Surface chemical covering for reducing heat loss
  • Solar pool-heating systems
  • High-efficiency conventional pool heating systems with steady state efficiencies as high as 97%. Heat pump pool heaters with coefficients of performance (COP) in the ranges of 6.0 to 8.0 when operated in warm weather. A COP of 6.0 is 600% more efficient than an electric resistance heater
  • Energy-efficient pumps and motors
  • High-efficiency compact fluorescent lights
  • Reduce water-heating costs in the shower area by lowering shower temperatures to 35 °C (95°F). This will not only lower energy costs, but will shorten the amount of time people spend in the shower
  • Low flow shower heads
  • Installing aerators for lavatory faucets
  • Insulate the shower water heaters
  • Heat recovery from pool and showers wastewater using a Gravity-Film Heat Exchanger (GFX)

3. Water Treatment Plans

  • Reduce system demand by encouraging the consumer to use water more efficiently. Some areas to emphasize are:
    • Water efficient household appliances
    • Efficient use of lawn/garden watering
    • Leak detection and repair
    • Low flow toilets
    • Low flow showerheads
    • Industrial water reuse
  • Installing metering systems can save 10 percent of energy costs simply through behavioral changes pay (according to what you use)
  • Evaluate pump performance and baseload the most efficient pumps
  • Consider solids screening at wastewater treatment plants for recycling as compost and reducing capacity requirements for the system
  • Leak and loss reductions.
  • Pump impeller trimming to match flow requirements
  • Equipment upgrades for old inefficient equipment
  • Use low-friction pipe
  • Use high efficiency motors for pumps
  • Use adjustable speed drive for motors with variable loads
  • Use capacitors for improving the power factor

4. Street Lights

  • Evaluate lighting density/km2
  • Retrofit streetlights with lower wattage full cut-off flat lens fixtures
  • Use photocells
  • LED park and street lighting
  • Electronic ballast conversion for HPS standard lighting — save 20%
  • Remote lamp control (handheld unit or radio frequency) to adjust lighting level according to need
  • Photovoltaic collector lighting system for bus stop lighting

5. Traffic Signals

  • Upgrade existing incandescent traffic signals to energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) traffic signals

6. Holiday Season Lighting

  • The energy efficient LED strings are superior to standard incandescent light strings in that they:
    • use up to 95% less energy
    • last up to 7 times longer
    • are more durable, with no filaments or glass bulbs to break
    • produce very little heat, reducing the risk of fire
  • Timers and photocells can save energy and money by automatically turning lights on at dusk and turning them off at a scheduled time.

7. Libraries / Office Buildings/ Fire Halls

  • Lighting
    • Retrofit T12 fluorescent lamps and standard ballasts with T8 lamps and electronic ballasts
    • Use motion sensors in areas with irregular occupancy patterns
    • Use timeclocks/photocells on exterior lights
    • Convert incandescent/CFL exit signs to LED
  • Fans and Pumps
    • Reduce fan/pump speed with variable speed drives
    • Pump impeller reduction to match flow requirements
    • DDC control to replace manual controls and time clocks
  • Electric Motors
    • Downsize oversized motors for better efficiency
    • Retrofit standard motors with premium-efficiency motors
  • Boilers
    • Install heat recovery stack economizers
    • Reset boiler supply water temperature with outdoor air temperature
    • Add motorized vent dampers to atmospheric boilers to cutstandby losses
    • Optimize the fuel to air ratio for power burners
  • Chillers
    • Increase cooling setpoints
    • Turn off condenser pumps when the corresponding chiller turns off
    • Minimize the operation of chilled water pumps and isolate idle evaporators
  • Controls
    • Use demand controlled ventilation using CO² and occupancy sensors to control outdoor air quantities
    • Use DDC systems for AHUs, MAUs, EFs, heat pumps, VAV boxes, electrical heaters and lighting
    • Adjust mechanical systems operating schedules to reflect occupancy
    • Wider dead band between heating and cooling set-points
  • Domestic Hot Water Tanks
    • Install point-of-use heaters to eliminate piping heat losses
    • Reduce water temperature to only meet the maximum need
    • Separate DHW and building heating systems
  • Compressed Air Systems
    • Reduce pressure to maximum required
    • Reduce inlet air temperature
    • Sequence control of air compressors
    • Repair leaks

Energy Management’s Stanley Cup

As a hockey fan and a practitioner of energy management, I started thinking… how is Energy Management like hockey? A review of the key roles on a hockey team provides some interesting comparisons.

The General Manager (GM):

The GM determines the direction for the team, assembles the players, and sets the tone for the type of play. Will it be an offensive or defensive style team this year? Will the team be built around one or two superstars or a group of equally talented players? The GM provides the direction for the Coach, player and his management team.
For a successful energy management program, the organizations senior management position (CEO or President) needs to set the tone for the importance of energy management to the organization. He or she demonstrates this through leadership by example. This person communicates and inspires the organization to strive for energy improvements.

The Coach:

The coach organizes the players so that the sum is greater than the parts. He determines which players work best together and builds on the strengths of each. The coach has a strategy and sets objectives for the season, each part of the season and each game. He meets with support staff, players and management to adjust the strategy and deal with challenges that come up. As a facilitator, he tries to get the best out of each player. At many organizations, the “Energy Manager” is the Coach of the Energy Management Team. He tracks the progress each day and moves short term and longer term energy objectives forward. Using the Energy Management Plan as his playbook, he organizes the various parts of the energy team and ensures open communication.
The energy manager solicits feedback from others but ultimately it is his responsibility to move the program initiatives forward. Like the coach of the hockey team, the energy manager is not satisfied with the status quo and is always looking for opportunities to improve.

The Defence:

A strong defence is one of the keys to winning a championship. The defence needs to keep on eye on all the activities happening on the ice and needs to be ready to respond to any lapses in performance of other team members.
For an energy team, the defence is about identifying waste. When are we using energy when we don’t need to? What lighting is on when the room is empty? What computers are on when the computer lab is empty? What room temperatures are set higher than required causing excess heating energy? What walls, roofs, doors and windows have gaps or holes where heat is lost?
The defence wants to keep the puck in the opposition zone, just like the energy management team needs to keep waste down.

The Forwards:

The hockey forward needs to score goals. The focus is on offence — passing the puck to achieve a clear opening to the net and taking your best shot on net. For energy management, the offense is about efficiency improvements.
How can we do better at using the energy that is currently consumed? Replacing equipment with more efficient products and technology is how the energy team scores the goals. It may be through the installation of premium efficiency lighting products, high efficiency boilers, variable speed compressors, or high COP rooftop units.
Some new innovations, like LED lighting, have similarities to the fibreglass carbon sticks available to hockey forwards today: they work better than the traditional wooden sticks, however, they do tend to break in some instances. New technologies go through development cycles and the ones that come out on top are both reliable and efficient.

The Goalie:

The goalie is the last line of defence. If the goalie is distracted, looses focus or not performing, the puck will surely end up behind him. For the energy team, the building operator, security staff or cleaning staff are the last ones around that can prevent waste. They spot the opportunities at the end of the day, week or season.
These individuals are walking through the building and finding open windows, equipment left on, cooling systems running in vacant rooms.
When a high school closes in early July for the summer holiday, are the pop machines, coffee machines and walk in freezers still running? When the retail tenants from the local mall close up on Friday night, do the young staff members know what procedures to follow for the HVAC systems setback and store lighting before they head out for a night on the town. The energy management team needs the goalie to eliminate waste.

The Captain:

Some captains lead on the ice with their performance. Others may be slightly past their prime on the ice but lead in the dressing room by inspiring others to perform. Communication is key for this team leader to motivate others to take action. The energy team needs a captain to lead communication programs as well. He needs to build awareness of the actions others can take to save energy. He needs to provide a reason for change, a consistent message and provide feedback on how the program is doing.
Like the Captain of the hockey team, he needs to know when to fire up the troops and when a tap on the shoulder will do just fine. By communicating a consistent message, the captain of the energy team drives change of the corporate culture by changing one behaviour at a time.

The Training Staff:

The training staff not only keeps the team healthy but also monitors their fitness. Often, they will suggest new approaches to rehabilitation, like the hyperbaric chamber, to keep the players in top form. These members of the team research available nutrition and fitness approaches and stay on top of developments in the field. For the energy team, training is critical to increase competencies.
Some tools, like the online training for building operators that we developed for BOMA BC, is available online to take at their own pace from their own location. Other training for energy management include multiply day training for energy managers, various single day workshops and conferences.
By staying informed and increasing energy management know how, members of the energy team are more effective at managing their resources. Energy management training is a key component of a success program.

The Scout:

The scout is on the road looking at new prospects. Some young players have talent and these are watched closely but they will not all make it to the big leagues. Sometimes the scout takes a chance on a talented player and recommends him for the team. Your energy engineer or manager will be looking for the next round of potential for the energy program as well.
More than likely they are scouting alternative energy opportunities and giving them a tryout. Perhaps a pilot study on solar heating for the local motel that is looking to show customers their commitment to sustainability. Perhaps an office building manager looking as a solar powered parking lot area light or signage. All show promise but only the mature technologies will remain. The energy manager needs to be aware of current and upcoming alternative sources of energy.

The Capologist:

This is a new position in the big leagues as unions and management have moved to limit the spending abilities of the billionaire owners that can not seem to limit themselves (kind of like how my wife limits my chocolate intake). The Capologist knows the numbers- what each player’s salary is, how it adds up to the limit for the team, the impact of injuries on the cap, how trades will impact the teams numbers, and how other teams are doing with respect to the cap as well.
For the energy team, watching the consumption regularly is also a critical role. A monitoring, targeting and reporting system (MT&R) is critical to actively and effectively managing energy use. The energy manager needs to know what the trends have been and why, what has caused recent energy changes, and who to report to.
Like the capologist, he monitors some trends daily, like the electrical demand, and others on regular basis, like monthly energy consumption and costs. Sometime penalties occur, like power factor penalties, late charges, demand spikes and just like the capologist, he needs to take quick action to rectify the situation. Innovative programs such as the BC Hydro continuous improvement program merge MT&R with real time feedback of energy to develop a “continuous commissioning” process.

The Medical Doctor:

Puck in the face? Charley horse? Sometimes players get injured and need some medical care during the game, between games and during the off season. Energy consultants play that role for the energy management team…they bring tools and expertise to help.
Even large organizations with full time energy managers relay on energy consultants and their expertise. The consultant may bring ideas, calculation tools, expertise and knowledge to the energy program. Just like the medical doctor, it makes common sense to bring in the specialists when required.

The Power Play:

It is beautiful to see a power play that clicks: the pucks move crisply from one stick to the next, back and forth until success…a goal! That’s the feeling I have at the completion of an energy project: seeing the result, the savings from the retrofit project, is like the goal on the power play.
This is a chance for the team members to feel good about their work, to celebrate with high fives, and then get down to business as the game continues. Celebrating success is a key component for a long term and sustainable energy management program.


Sometimes even the best teams get into a slump and don’t win every game. Similarly in energy management project, not every project will turn out the way you want it to. Real winners will confront problems and look for ways to make the best of the situation. Strong leadership and determination are required to get back on track.

The Holy Grail:

Every NHL team wants to win the Stanley Cup and every team at the Olympics want that Gold Medal. They focus their energy and work towards this goal throughout the season. Training, teamwork, and focus on the objective are all keys to success. A successful energy management program needs to set goals to motivate, inspire and target.
The goals are shared with others and provide a common thrust for everyone involved. Objectives are then set each “period” so that the goals can be broken down into logical pieces. Tasks are then assigned to members of the energy team to ensure that there are responsibilities assigned with specific time projection.

The Team:

Some of the best players have not won a championship. They try their best but do not have support from others to achieve their ultimate goal. Like a star player, no one individual can achieve success in energy management without the support of others. A university campus needs energy champions in each building to build awareness and share concrete actions with building occupants. It needs maintenance staff to keep condensers clear from debris, filters changed, setpoints optimized. It needs building occupants like faculty and students that are aware of the impact their behaviour has on the campus footprint and care enough to do something about it.
An energy team is made up of individuals with various backgrounds, interests and abilities that come together to make a difference: reducing the environmental impact of their organization.


As you can see, there are many similarities between a hockey team and an energy management program (although it may be tough to sell tickets for fans to come see your energy management team in action). The important point is that just like hockey, it has to be a TEAM effort to achieve the ultimate success. Not just the superstar, not just the players, but a lot of others “behind the scenes” all working towards the same goal.

I hope your favourite hockey team achieves success this year. And I hope that you move forward with all the players on your energy team to enhance your organizations sustainability through smarter use of energy in your facilities.

Top 5 Energy Tips for a Leaner, Greener Workplace

In the course of those audits, which ranged in scope from a basic energy assessment at a 5,000 square foot bank branch to a detailed energy audit for a property manager of several million square feet of downtown office space, Prism has identified certain key energy savings opportunities at workplace buildings. By looking for these opportunities in their own workplaces, businesses of any size can enjoy significant energy savings and achieve real reductions in their impact on the natural environment – with little or no sacrifice to building comfort.

“Especially in this weak economy, we all need to make sure we are spending as little as possible to comfortably heat, cool, light and power our workplaces, ” explains Robert Greenwald P.Eng., MBA, and President of Prism. “And in the process, when we keep our eyes peeled for energy saving opportunities, we’re also doing our part to shrink our carbon footprints and safeguard the environment. Hopefully, businesses will find these tips a good starting point to launch their own energy savings initiatives.”

Prism offers the following tips to building owners, property and facility managers, tenants, and anyone else who wishes to lean and green their workplaces. Tenants who do not own their own office space or are not individually metered, though less likely to share in the cost savings, are encouraged to speak to their landlords about these recommendations and let them know the value they place on an energy efficient and environmentally sustainable workplace:

1. Be bright about lighting

At the Burnaby Campus of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Prism helped reduce electricity costs related to lighting by $188,000 per year. By having Prism audit their operations and implement a complete lighting system retrofit, BCIT was able to cut electricity consumption by 11% (i). That project included installation of electronic ballasts, compact ?uorescent lamps, LED exit signs and occupancy sensors to ensure that lights automatically turned off when space was unoccupied. However, regardless of the size of your operations, being conscious of how lights are used and aware of the latest available lighting technology can make a big difference to the bottom line. For example, simply lowering or turning off lights when daylight is available can significantly reduce consumption. By replacing incandescent lighting with LED pot lights or induction lighting (which is four times as efficient and lasts over 40 times longer than incandescent bulbs) in lobbies and atriums, electricity consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be substantially decreased. In every case, visual comfort must be balanced against aesthetics and operating costs.

2. Get HVAC on track

With optimal use of the control systems for a workspace’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) equipment, significant energy savings can be realized. Building operators can be trained to adjust room temperature set points to balance comfort with efficiency. As well, proper use of controls can allow for holiday and weekend shut down. Settings can also be used to make sure that workspaces are warmed up slowly and in advance to avoid costly spikes in energy usage at the beginning of a winter work week. All of these programmable settings can allow for manual operator override. Also, the use of variable speed drive (VSD) pumps and fans in HVAC systems can add to the savings. While the size of a pump or fan for HVAC systems is typically chosen based on peak demand (e.g. during the hot summer months), VSD pumps and fans allow for slower pump and fan speeds during low demand periods. A 10% reduction in pump speed and ?ow can translate into a 17% reduction in energy consumption. When a local property management firm hired Prism to conduct energy audits at 13 of their Lower Mainland office buildings, Prism identified potential annual savings of over $85,000 by simply upgrading HVAC controls and educating operators on the optimal use of control systems.

3. Operate and purchase office equipment with an eye on energy savings

Too often during audits, Prism finds that office computers’ power-saving or “sleep” settings are not properly set or not used at all. Other times, the IT department insists on employees leaving computers on to run updates overnight. By teaching employees to properly use the sleep settings and by challenging IT to come up with alternative solutions (e.g. running the updates on weekends only), computers can be shut down, or at least put to sleep, when not in use overnight, on weekends and over holidays. While the energy savings ROI of replacing an old copier or dishwasher with a new energy efficient one may be too long to justify an immediate purchase, when a unit reaches the end of its useful life, make sure that it is replaced with the most energy efficient model available within your budget, that meets your office’s needs. When Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union, was looking for help developing an energy policy, their Facilities Management Department hired Prism. The resulting plan set a course of action based on sound conservation and energy management practices, application of new energy-efficient technologies, and employee education and training. The policy’s equipment purchasing guidelines (as well as lighting, HVAC, and water-conservation strategies) assisted Vancity in achieving their stated goal of “carbon neutrality by 2010” a full 2 years ahead of schedule on December 31st, 2007.

4. Monitor and evaluate your energy and utility costs

When Prism monitored Air Canada’s utility costs for their facilities across Canada, they discovered billing errors in the amount of $464,000 at their Richmond facility, which was then refunded by the utility(ii). As well, by monitoring a business’ energy bills, a pattern of usage can be seen. The HVAC controls can then be set for optimal efficiency and comfort during peak and low demand periods. Due to the large potential savings afforded by monitoring clients’ energy and utility costs, Prism has developed specialized on-line tools to allow clients to monitor, target and report against their energy and utility consumption. Also, by monitoring the savings achieved by their energy efficiency measures, businesses can keep an eye on their progress as they look for additional savings opportunities.

5. Employee buy-in key to success

Through their years of experience, Prism has learned that unless employees have “bought into” the initiative, efforts at greening and leaning a workplace will not produce optimal results. Even the newest, most efficient energy-saving technology can be easily overridden by employees who are not invested in the program. In order to create and maintain a culture of energy efficiency, employees must be properly trained, made aware and reminded of the goals of and purpose behind the initiative. With that in mind, Prism has been delivering energy management training of behalf of Natural Resources Canada for over 10 years including their “Energy Monitoring” and “Spot the Energy Saving Opportunities” workshops. Prism has also developed an online energy management course for Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) building operators in BC.

“It’s been our experience that once employees are properly trained and feel they are critical to a program’s success, many of them become highly motivated to find new ways to improve and build on the results achieved. That enthusiasm can generate remarkable energy savings,” adds Greenwald.

A Holistic Approach to Energy Management

Robert Greenwald, President of Prism Engineering
Sarah Smith, Social Marketing Program Coordinator at Prism Engineering

Successful energy management goes beyond simply knowing which equipment to buy and how to properly set controls. Effectively managing the energy performance of advanced education facilities requires a holistic approach. This method takes a broader perspective and looks at the whole energy management picture, including the organizational, technical and behavioural aspects. It also requires a broad organization-wide commitment to continuously looking for ways to improve. This article outlines eight key areas critical to successful energy management, using examples and case studies from Langara’s energy management program.


1. Getting Commitment

Incorporating energy management practices into any organization requires senior level management support and commitment. Without it, saving energy will not be seen as a priority and any program goals, targets, plans and initiatives will lack the necessary support to see them succeed. Securing commitment from senior executives in the beginning of the process will help ensure the success of all energy management initiatives, from retrofit project financing to staff engagement programs.

Secure senior management commitment by demonstrating how energy management ties in to your organization’s business strategy. Energy management offers quantifiable cost savings and provides opportunities to engage staff, students, and faculty. It can also position the organization as a progressive industry leader making a positive difference in the local community, and globally, through its commitment to environmental sustainability.

2. The Importance of a Plan

An energy management plan formalizes the organization’s commitment to energy management and provides a means of communicating this commitment to staff, students, faculty and community stakeholders. A plan establishes a framework for identifying energy efficiency opportunities and a benchmark for monitoring future performance. It also clearly lays out energy management roles and responsibilities.

An effective plan provides information on energy-use, sets goals and targets, outlines energy saving opportunities and includes financial analysis of proposed actions. As well, the plan should include strategies for engaging and communicating with staff and students and provide opportunities for staff training. An effective plan will also outline how energy use will be monitored and reported.

3. Integrate Energy Management into the Organization

Ideally, energy management should be fully integrated into all aspects of the organization. Begin by developing an understanding of your organization’s current operational management systems and identifying which policies relate to energy management. Understand how energy management fits into the organization’s overall corporate strategy and how best to connect energy management with other campus activities. Explore opportunities to link energy management practices with existing courses and programs, or look to develop new classes that provide students with hands-on learning experiences.


4. Energy Projects

As all energy management programs invariably include technical aspects, it is important to plan strategically by identifying technical opportunities and priorities. Be ready to take advantage of new funding sources that may become available by having a “shovel ready” list of projects.

Langara College

Start by developing an understanding of your organization’s current situation and energy usage. Look at the cost structure of your bills. Compare your energy use to that of similar organizations in the education sector and benchmark the performance of your buildings. Identify when and where you use energy. Once you have collected this information, you will be better able to identify savings opportunities by eliminating waste, maximizing efficiency and optimizing your energy supply. To eliminate waste, consider optimizing set points for heating and cooling, installing occupancy sensors for lighting and HVAC systems, or optimizing schedules to reflect building occupancy patterns. Next, look for opportunities to improve the efficiency of your building’s systems. Purchase Energy Star rated equipment, premium efficiency motors or condensing boilers and ensure filters are always properly maintained.

The next step in identifying energy saving opportunities is to optimize your supply. This means considering alternative energy options, such as geo-exchange, heat recovery and solar opportunities. Langara College recently designed and built a new library building, which features several of these energy alternatives. The building is designed to be 71% more energy-efficient than the baseline established in Canada’s National Energy Code for buildings. It features several innovative ways of saving energy in new building projects. For example, the library is naturally ventilated – five wind towers pull air upward through the building and the undulating concrete roof boosts the pulling power by increasing wind velocity. Remotely-controlled windows open to bring air into the building. A geo-exchange system and water source heat pumps cool and heat the interior. Waste heat is captured from exhaust air and the building’s exposed cast-in-place concrete and high-performance glass further aid in energy transfer and storage.

5. Financial

When making the financial case for a retrofit or new building project, it is important to look beyond annual savings and consider the long term value of the project. At Langara College for an example, the energy management savings from a 2001 retrofit have been $50,000 per year. However, it sounds more impressive to say that the cost avoidance has been over $700,000 since 2001. The long term savings figures will help build a better business case for a project.


Technology is a vital part of energy management. Ultimately, however, it is people who control, use and save energy. Providing effective training for key staff and finding ways to fully engage all staff, students and faculty members in energy conservation programs is critical to successful energy management.

6. Training

An effective way to improve energy efficiency in buildings, is to provide training for those in the organization who work directly with the buildings’ energy systems. Training should provide building operations personnel with the skills and knowledge to properly manage and maintain equipment, to identify energy savings opportunities, and to implement operational changes. As well as providing them with enhanced knowledge and critical tools, by building up competencies in your staff, you enable them to take ownership of, and pride in, the energy management program. This sense of ownership often turns them into your organization’s ‘energy champion’ – always on the lookout for new ways to improve efficiency and save you energy.

7. Awareness and Culture Change

Holistic Energy Management

Many organizations find that engaging students, staff and faculty in energy efficiency and conservation programs is an effective, low-cost way to begin saving energy, or to strengthen existing energy practices. The challenge is to find out why people behave the way they do, and how to best encourage them to adopt new behaviours. The most effective awareness and behavioural change programs are the ones that capture the imagination of students, staff and faculty and effect widespread cultural change within the organization. The ultimate goal is to get everyone on board and harness the power of small daily behavioural changes. Eventually, behaviours such as turning off lights and computers when they’re not being used, using day lighting instead of artificial light, and wearing a sweater to stay warm instead of turning up the heat will simply be considered the norm. “Langara Thinks Green” is a campaign to encourage students, faculty and staff to ”protect and enhance the environment for future generations, and to use and manage Langara’s own physical environment in ways that lead to sustainability’. Langara’s website provides green tips and information on how to get involved in green programs on campus. They have also developed a Sustainability Pledge, which allows students, faculty and staff to commit to specific energy saving behaviours.

Continuous Improvement

8. Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting (MT&R)

Monitoring, setting targets and reporting on energy use is a crucial element of any energy management program. However, the process must go beyond mere data collection. Detailed analysis of the data is needed to meaningfully report on achieved savings and to properly demonstrate opportunities for energy conservation. Presenting key decision makers and stakeholders with compelling energy information, in a clear and timely manner, encourages people to take action and is an effective way of demonstrating the results of energy management initiatives. This helps to reinforce the benefits of the program, as well as to inspire participants and maintain their interest. Finally, continuously monitoring, targeting and reporting on energy use creates important feedback loops for the organization and helps to support a culture of continuous improvement.

In 2010, Langara College installed sub-meters on electrical and gas utility meters to get a better understanding of energy distribution and use. As a result of this information, the College will be setting energy performance targets for each building.

Thinking Holistically about Energy Management

Taking a holistic approach to energy management will help you set achievable and realistic goals, ensure you have the commitment and support necessary to carry out projects and programs, and inspire a campus-wide culture of energy saving. This approach is so critical to successful energy management that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is in the process of approving an international standard (ISO 50001) for integrating energy management into organizational procedures and management systems. This standard, if widely adopted across economic sectors, and could influence up to 60 % of the world’s energy use. Whether adopting the ISO standard or another energy management approach, the success of any energy program will depend on the eight key areas identified in this article.

Top 10 Energy Audit Problems

… and how Prism Engineering carefully addresses each one.

Prism Engineering conducts an average of 50 energy audits a year.  Our highly-trained energy, electrical and mechanical engineers and technologists devote a great deal of their time and effort to conducting energy audits at commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential buildings.  So when we heard that the February 2011 issue of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Journal featured an article entitled “The 10 Most Common Problems in Energy Audits,” our ears perked up.

Ian Shapiro, the article’s author, was interested in why some energy projects achieve substantial savings while others do not. He looked to energy audits for possible explanations and found 10 common issues that greatly affect a project’s ability to deliver on promised savings. The study conducted a high-level review of 300 US building audits and then looked in detail at 30 of them: 15 commercial and 15 residential. Below, using the framework set out by the ASHRAE article, we review these 10 industry issues and explain what Prism is doing, in each case, to ensure that our audits remain as reliable, informative, and valuable as possible.

#10 Inadequate Review

Obvious mistakes other than calculations

The 10th most common issue with energy audits are non-calculation errors due to inadequate report review. This would include mistakes such as duplicating sections of reports, or making the assumption that a condensing boiler is automatically over 95% efficient. To avoid these kinds of obvious non-calculation errors, Prism follows a comprehensive quality assurance and review process. All reports are written using the newest version of our energy audit template. This avoids duplication or misnomer errors. After an energy report has been drafted, the report is reviewed by Prism’s Senior Energy Engineer, Ken Holdren. He begins with a detailed review of all calculation spreadsheets and then gives the report a thorough read-through for grammar, terminology and clerical errors. Ken, who has been with the company for nine years and has 30 years experience in the field, mentors Prism’s energy audit team and is responsible for quality assurance of all energy management projects.

# 9 Energy Savings Estimation

Overestimation of energy savings

When making energy savings calculations, it is impossible to account for all factors that affect energy savings. However, Shapiro found that over half of the energy audits studied had savings that were twice as high as could be reasonably expected. At Prism, we are carefully conservative about our estimates. This approach reflects the complex nature of building systems and the effect that the people occupying these spaces and managing these systems can have on the results. High energy savings estimates can create unreasonable expectations and may lead to poor prioritization of measures.

Last year, BC Hydro conducted an independent review of Prism Engineering’s energy audits and found that, on average, 87% of calculated savings were “approved”. The balance may have been realistic but exceeded the thresholds set by the utility. By using hourly bin models to calculate savings for all weather conditions, and equipment data sheets and part load efficiencies to accurately model the energy consumption of major building systems, we are able to predict with a high degree of accuracy how much energy each measure can actually save our clients. Using these tools helps prevent assumption bias errors and errors due to poor modeling. Our tools are either developed in-house, or by reputable organizations such as the US Department of Energy or Natural Resource Canada. They are updated regularly based on feedback from our trained energy auditors and our continuing experience in the field.

#8 Billing Analysis

Inadequate billing analysis for measures and projects

Over half of the energy audits that Shapiro looked at did not include adequate billing analysis. While the ASHRAE Standard is to study at least one year of monthly data, Prism typically analyzes three years worth of energy data. This gives our clients a better understanding of the consumption patterns and energy costs of their buildings. We are able to run better regression analysis (a statistical technique used to determine the relationships between variables in order to predict future energy use) which allows us to properly understand how variables that affect energy use, such as weather or occupancy patterns over a particular period, affect energy consumption. This provides us and our clients with a baseline standard against which to measure energy consumption in subsequent years.

#7 Building Description

Building components poorly described or missing entirely

All energy audits should include a detailed description of all components of a building. Description and analysis of some components listed in Shapiro’s article are more applicable to commercial and industrial buildings, while some are more appropriate for residential energy audits, such as infiltration, windows and wall/roof components. Prism focuses on HVAC and lighting systems for commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential buildings, because these are the systems that typically offer the best opportunities for energy savings in these building types. Our energy reports provide a detailed description of all major energy consuming systems and equipment in a building, based on all available information collected and observations made by trained energy engineers during site visits.

#6 Installation Costs

Installation costs underestimated or omitted

It is crucial that installation costs are properly reflected in the energy savings calculations. If no installation figure is provided for the implementation cost, there is a good possibility that the measures will be prioritized incorrectly and a more expensive project could be selected over a more cost-effective one. Furthermore, energy audit reports often provide an initial budget for implementing selected measures. If the installation cost is missing or underestimated, the project would be at risk of going over budget. Our installation cost estimates are based on 20 years of industry experience and the knowledge base of our diverse team of energy engineers. We are careful to conservatively estimate installation time, ensure that we have current quotes from suppliers, estimate any available incentives, and include all applicable engineering costs.

Installation costs are critical to the decision making process, but can be difficult to properly estimate because of fluctuating prices over time and between suppliers. We achieve a high degree of accuracy on lighting retrofit costing by having a detailed costing database. Developed in house, this tool helps our lighting team identify retrofit opportunities, model scenarios for different lamp and ballast options, and calculate payback for various alternatives. A recently implemented lighting retrofit measure at a B.C. university identified 800,000 kWh of projected savings, a 30% reduction in lighting energy costs. Using the database to calculate implementation costs, the project came in under the projected budget by 10%. Through conversations with our staff, we have discovered that we can provide even better information to our clients by creating an installation cost database for all mechanical systems and equipment types. Plans are underway to develop this tool with help from our mechanical department.

#5 Energy Savings Measure Selection

Selecting the wrong measure due to missing or incorrect information

The most common reason that energy auditors do a poor job of identifying and recommending energy saving measures is due to missing or incorrect information. According to the article, one of the most common errors is to recommend a measure with a longer payback than the expected life of the project. Other errors happen when energy auditors make biased assumptions, do not use life cycle costing, or underestimate equipment or installation costs. Our tight quality control process helps us catch potential mistakes and ensures that we are making good recommendations to our clients. The process begins with a well developed report template, includes careful calculations based on accurate data, and ends with a thorough final review by our Senior Energy Engineer.

#4 Life-cycle Costing

Failure to provide client with the “whole picture” afforded by Life-cycle costing

Unlike simple payback, life-cycle costing provides a holistic perspective on potential measures and helps clients and energy auditors make better decisions about which projects to pursue. In our energy audits, in addition to providing simple payback metrics, we also calculate the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and Net Present Value (NPV) for all measures, as well as for the report as a whole. All of these figures are captured in a high-level overview table in the report summary to allow for easier decision making on the part of the client. This information helps our clients make the most effective business case to senior management, for the implementation of the energy savings measures. We also include various options for utility rates, such as ‘no price escalation’ and ‘2% annual price escalation’. We can’t predict the future but we can provide reasonable models for possible scenarios.

#3 Equipment and Project Life

Overestimated or omitted

Because equipment or project life is so critical to accurate life-cycle cost analysis, Shapiro included this issue among his top three. Missing or incorrect information regarding project life can lead to poor measure prioritization. At Prism, we include project or equipment life in all of our NPV and IRR analysis, calculating it for every measure we recommend.

#2 Scope of Opportunities

Weak description of scope of measures

We provide our clients with all pertinent details about a particular measure in our energy reports, including the location, quantity of items needed, and the energy rating of the equipment. All of our reports include an explanation of the measure intent and a list of assumptions used in the calculations. We also provide design schematics for the more complex measures. Although Shapiro recommends including testing requirements, we don’t often include this information in our reports. Given that some of our clients implement measures on their own after receiving our reports, we have decided to explore, with feedback from our clients, whether to include testing requirements in future reports.

Heat recovery system

#1 Missed Opportunities

Neglecting key opportunities

The most widespread problem in energy audits as identified by Shapiro is missed opportunities. Shapiro argues that comprehensiveness is widely recognized as a critical feature of all high quality energy audits. He provides a list of opportunities which he feels should be covered in every energy audit: high-efficiency HVAC, domestic hot water and lighting; lighting power density; lighting controls; wall or roof insulation; motors/drives; HVAC controls; and fenestration opportunities. While we agree that all energy audits should provide clients with a reasonable selection of options for implementation, his study combined results from energy audits of both residential and commercial buildings. In the context of Vancouver’s mild climate, building envelope opportunities for commercial buildings such as fenestration measures or wall and roof insulation do not offer good returns and are sometimes difficult or disruptive to implement. These types of improvements are more appropriate for mid-to-small scale residential buildings. This list, therefore, might not be entirely relevant to clients with commercial, institutional or large-scale residential building portfolios who are trying to determine the comprehensiveness of an energy audit.

Prism has over 20 years of experience working with industry and commercial sector clients. The information in our energy audits is the result of careful study, precise calculations and meticulous review. Our reports are comprehensive in scope and allow our clients to make better decisions about proposed energy saving projects. Through site visits and client consultations, we spend the time necessary to really get to know our clients’ buildings’ systems. Our calculations and energy savings models are based on well-developed tools and our energy audit report template helps ensure we do not miss any opportunities. Despite the numerous systems we have in place to avoid these industry problems, we are always looking for ways to improve our audit process. Our team of highly skilled and well-trained energy staff at Prism Engineering strives for continuous improvement of our tools and services, in order to better help our clients save energy.

Realize Results by Retro-commissioning

Top 10 Retro-commissioning Opportunities Found In Your Building
With LEED and other building certification programs pushing the ‘energy efficiency’ envelope, building owners are constantly looking for ways to upgrade their older building stock in order to optimize occupant comfort while lowering utility bills. The challenge is knowing which operational changes and retrofit projects will yield the best results.

Retro-commissioning helps pinpoint specific opportunities to improve a building’s overall performance. Retro-commissioning studies can help resolve problems that occur during design or construction, or help address issues that may have developed over the course of a building’s lifetime.

To help building operators understand the types of opportunities that may exist in their buildings, we have compiled a list of the “Top 10 Retro-commissioning Opportunities”, commonly identified in our Retro-commissioning studies.

10. Eliminate Passing (leaky) Valves

Our engineers have found that passing valves that control heating or cooling coils can result in unnecessary energy consumption. The following conditions can interfere with a valve’s ability to fully stop the flow through the coil when in a closed position: an improperly connected, aligned or adjusted actuator and valve; insufficient seat load; debris or other contaminants caught in the seating surface; and equipment wear and tear.

9. Add or Improve Chilled Water Temperature Reset

We regularly find chillers operating at fixed supply temperature set points, rather than according to the building’s actual cooling demands. Increasing the chilled water supply temperature will improve the chiller efficiency. This can be achieved by revising the DDC system to provide chilled water supply temperature reset based on cooling valve positions, high temperature variance, or outdoor temperature, depending on the application.

8. Volume Control for Pumps and Fans

It is a common practice to install variable speed drive on pumps and fans in variable volume systems. However, inefficiencies result in the system when speed drives are continuously running at high capacity. This can be caused by excessive pressure set points, critical zone reset algorithms that do not address rouge zones, air intakes clogged with debris, operator overrides, and many other causes. Modulating pumps or fans to deliver the required flow will save energy.

7. Optimize Ventilation Rates

Optimizing ventilation rates in air handling units provides further opportunities for energy savings. For instance, an air handling unit serving a gymnasium could be outfitted with occupancy and carbon dioxide sensors which would provide demand controlled ventilation and maintain minimal outdoor air when there is limited or no occupancy.

6. Eliminate Unnecessary Lighting Hours

Even when building lighting control systems are programmed by a schedule, lights will occasionally remain on when the space is unoccupied. To minimize lighting hours, require the first person using the space to manually turn on the lights and set up the system to sweep off the lights at fixed intervals after normal occupancy hours.

5. Optimize Zone Temperature Set Points

When a system is programmed to satisfy the highest cooling demand in a space, a single zone with low set point can set the system in full cooling mode, while reheat coils serving other zones are open to provide heat. To rectify the situation, avoid having one zone dictate the supply temperature, limit the range of occupant temperature reset, and follow up by investigating the root cause of the problem.

4. Optimize Supply Air Temperature

Another energy saving opportunity is found when the supply air temperature set point is fixed instead of being on a reset schedule. In some cases, the set points are chosen based on the operator’s desire to minimize complaints. In order for the system to run optimally, temperature must be adjusted based on the actual requirements of the spaces and occupants.

3. Eliminate Simultaneous Heating and Cooling

Eliminating simultaneous heating and cooling offers an important means of reducing energy consumption. One prime example is when a Variable Air Volume (VAV) system is delivering a low supply air temperature but all the VAV boxes downstream are in heating mode. Another occurs when the building has a mix of DDC and pneumatic controls. With the pneumatic thermostat controlling the hydronic baseboard heaters and a DDC space temperature sensor controlling the VAV box, the same space may be simultaneously heated via the baseboard and cooled from overhead.

2. Optimize Economizer Operation

Our engineers often find economizer dampers that are failed in minimum position (which results in inadequate free cooling), incapable of full closure, or lacking full range operation. This often occurs with aging actuators and damper bearings that are overdue for maintenance.

1. Reduce Equipment Runtime

The most prevalent opportunity for increasing energy efficiency in buildings is reducing equipment runtime. In our experience, equipment is often left on by accident or by decision of the building operator. Instead of simply restoring the auto or scheduled running times, we work with the building operator to address the root cause of the problem, which yields better long term results. Use energy monitoring information to identify opportunities to reduce equipment runtime. Often, DDC schedules are not aligned with statutory holidays. The DDC system should be programmed to reduce equipment runtime, as when in unoccupied mode.

Our engineers, and the operators that oversee their buildings, use a variety of tools to assess and monitor a building’s energy performance. These tools include energy profiles, DDC trend logs, DDC graphics (for quick troubleshooting and verification), exception reports that generate alarms, and CUSUM analysis to track energy savings.


This list of Retro-commissioning opportunities is focused on restoring a building system’s optimal operational conditions. They are all non-capital, operational measures that have relatively quick paybacks of between one to three years. Ultimately, compared to the cost of wasted energy, additional maintenance, and equipment downtime, Retro-commissioning studies represent an excellent investment and offer an extremely cost-effective way to enhance the energy performance of existing buildings.

Condensing Boilers for Existing Buildings: Opportunities and Pitfalls

With maximum efficiency ratings in the range of 96%, condensing boilers are becoming a popular choice for building owners looking for improved energy efficiency, reduced operating cost and lower GHG emissions. However, many owners are not aware of the technology behind condensing boilers and the conditions required for achieving their rated efficiency. Mismatching the boiler with the heating system requirements can result in operating conditions that do not achieve the potential of condensing boilers.

The high efficiency rating for condensing boilers is primarily achieved by capturing latent heat from water vapour in the flue gas. This is done by condensing, or changing the phase of water vapour from a gas to a liquid. As the water vapour in the flue gas condenses, it releases heat that is then captured in a heat exchanger and transferred to the boiler return water flowing through the other side of the heat exchanger. For this process to occur, the return water temperature has to be below the dew point of the water vapour. The dew point for natural gas combustion products is typically around


55°C (130°F) under Stoichiometric conditions. To obtain complete condensing and achieve the maximum rated efficiency of the boiler, return water temperature needs to be approximately 20°C (68°F), which is extremely low and unachievable for most applications. Between return water temperatures of 20 to 55°C, condensing will partially occur but the boiler does not reach the maximum rated efficiency.

For condensing boilers to achieve maximum efficiency, the overall heating system, including distribution and end uses, should operate as an integrated unit. When recommending condensing boilers for existing facilities, the end use systems already exist and it is not usually practical to modify them to obtain lower supply and return water temperatures. There can still be improved boiler energy use, but the performance  will be limited according to the return water temperature.

To evaluate whether an existing building heating system is suited for condensing boilers, categorize the end use systems served by the boiler plant according to high/mid/low temperature return water. Domestic Hot Water is a high temperature load as it requires a high output temperature. This usually results in the boiler return water temperature being higher than what is needed for condensing. Other examples are hot water coils in air handling units, unit heaters and perimeter radiation systems. Medium Temperature loads need boiler supply water in the range of 40°C to 65°C (100 – 150°F). Low mass radiant heating is an example. Low temperature  loads, such as radiant slab heating, require supply water temperature in the range of 27°C to 50°C (80 – 120°F).

Low temperature loads are the best match for condensing boiler systems as their return water temperature is low and provides the most opportunity for obtaining high boiler efficiency. A building  that has mostly high tempera- ture loads is not an ideal candidate for condensing boilers unless operating practices include strategies such as hot water reset schedules that result in low temperature return water whenever possible. In these cases the most benefit from condensing boilers will be gained in the shoulder seasons when lower supply water temperatures, and hence lower return water temperatures, can be realized.

Here are strategies that can be used in existing facilities to decrease the supply and return water temperature requirements, and therefore improve condensing efficiencies:

  1. Decoupling DHW. Consider heating the DHW and other non-weather related high temperature loads with a separate boiler rather than from the main boiler plant. This will allow the supply water temperature of the boiler to be lowered according to actual load requirements during shoulder season and non-peak periods. This also allows the boiler plant to be shut down dur- ing summer months when no space heating is required.
  2. Demand Control for Supply Water Temperature (SWT). Control the boiler supply water temperature according to the demand from the building systems. If all heating valves are partially closed it indicates that the supply water temperature could be lowered without impacting comfort in the space.
  3. Variable Flow. If the boiler can accept variable flow, another method of demand control is to adjust the flow according to the load requirement. A variable speed drive would reduce the flow during non-peak periods, resulting in a lower return water temperature and more condensing.
  4. Cascade load types. Supply the highest temperature load requirements first, with loads with the lowest water temperature requirement near the return end of the loop. As an example, preheating DHW makeup water with a heat exchanger located next to the boiler return can be an effective strategy to lower the temperature of return water prior to it entering the boiler.
  5. Burner Operation. If too much excess air is brought into the burner, the dew point for the flue gas will reduce, making it even harder to reach condensing conditions. Setting burners for lower excess air while still maintaining safety levels will improve efficiency of the boiler.
  6. Operator Training. Ensure the operators know the requirements for optimum condensing boiler operation so they can operate the system as ef- ficiently as possible.

Condensing boilers are an important product for the market, but they are not necessarily the best choice for all existing facilities. Incorporating considerations of the overall heating system can help make their installation successful, but it takes a bit more work and some training to make it happen.

LED Lighting Leads the Way to more Efficient and Comfortable Office Spaces

As our work environments have evolved, so too have our lighting requirements and expectations. Today the emphasis is on energy efficiency, flexibility, personal control, and the promotion of human health and wellbeing.  As a result, lighting designers must now be able to meet a wide range of requests when it comes to office lighting and address a set of stringent national and local building code requirements aimed at energy savings.  One set of standards being adopted by many jurisdictions across Canada, ASHRAE 90.1, defines minimum building efficiency requirements and requirements for lighting controls for different spaces and areas within a building.

The advent of LED lighting makes achieving, and surpassing these requirements much simpler than with more traditional light sources.  Today’s lighting designers should have a good understanding of the opportunities associated with LED lighting in terms of comfort, control, and energy savings.

Comfort and Control

LED lighting boasts a number of benefits.  Unlike CFL and fluorescent sources, LED technology can be switched on and off frequently without reducing the life of the system. LEDs also offer more dynamic dimming and adjustability options including brightness, colour temperature and hue – which can be used to mimic our natural light expectations based on circadian rhythms.  These inherent characteristics of LED lighting allow for more advanced control strategies which, when properly implemented, reduce energy consumption and improve employee comfort. In an office setting, where employees spend the majority of their workday indoors, it important that artificial light feels natural for the hour of day and provides flexibility for different preferences or sensitivities.

Achieving Savings with LED

At Prism Engineering, we use our office as a living laboratory to test new technologies.  A recent expansion at our offices in Burnaby offered us the opportunity to conduct a lighting improvement project in the new space and explore a variety of LED technologies and applications.

Open Office Lighting
The renovation included new LED recessed troffer luminaires uniquely sized at 20’’ x 24’’ and complete with wireless dimming controls that interfaced with each user’s personal computer in the open office areas. Set at 50% dimmed, these luminaires achieve a lighting power density of 0.18 watts per square foot, exceeding ASHRAE 90.1/2010 LPD requirements by 80%, while still meeting industry target illumination levels.

A survey of the office’s lighting control system revealed that a majority of staff set their lighting levels between 30% and 60% of total lighting capacity.  No one in our office was found to have their default light setting above 80%, demonstrating a general preference for moderate lighting levels but allowing the freedom to adjust lighting based on need.  Providing employees with personal control allows individuals to optimize their comfort level, while generating considerable energy savings. At the 50% dimmed setting, the recessed LED luminaries consume 75% less power than a similar luminaire that utilizes long CFL lamps, and 80% less than the standard 2’x4’ fluorescent luminaires used in the building.

Taking advantage of the capacity of LED lighting to be switched on and off more frequently, we also installed occupancy sensors, which automatically switch off the lighting in each “pod” of four workstations when no one is in the area.  Meeting lighting requirements on an “as needed” basis ensures that entire floors or departments don’t remain fully lit when there are only a few employees left working in an area. Compared to a scenario were the lights are turned on by the first person to arrive and turned off by the last person to leave, this zoning strategy has proven to reduce lighting operating hours by 25% to 30%.

Meeting Room Lighting
In our new work space, private offices and meeting rooms were fitted with 8’ LED pendant luminaires that utilize cutting edge light distribution and optical control technology that delivers over 75 lumens per watt and virtually eliminates glare. These luminaires meet target illumination levels, while using 60% less energy compared to pendant luminaires that utilize high output T5 (T5HO) fluorescent lamps. Pairing this technology with dimmable wall switch vacancy sensors, which operate as “Manual-On Auto-Off”, ensures that lights are only on when needed and function at maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Key Features of Prism’s Office Lighting Improvement Project:

  • All new LED luminaires are fully dimmable and can be adjusted to suit personal preferences
  • Occupancy / Vacancy sensors automatically switch off lighting when not required
  • Reduced lighting power density from 0.93 to 0.20 Watts/ft2

Summarizing the LED Office Advantage

Although not all LED products are created equal and must be closely evaluated for a number of different metrics, the performance of LED luminaires has now reached, and in many cases exceeded, the level of fluorescent lighting that we’ve become accustomed to.  LED is now a viable option for most general office lighting applications and offers far more options for controls. Properly designed LED lighting systems easily meet ASHRAE 90.1 requirements (both 2010 and 2013 versions) and even surpass the more stringent requirements of ASHRAE 189.1 2014.  At the same time these systems can meet target illumination levels set by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) without compromising office comfort or control.

Case study for New Gold New Afton Mine ISO 50001

New Gold is a leading international gold producer. When the company hired a BC Hydro-funded Industrial Energy Manager in 2011 and officially opened New Afton mine 15km west of Kamloops, B.C. in 2012, it was an opportunity to capitalize on the foundational support provided by BC Hydro to pursue the first ISO 50001 certification at a mine in North America.

BC Hydro’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) Program enables organizations to successfully staff and deliver a strategic approach to managing energy. ISO 50001 takes energy management to the next level with an external validation process, a focus on operations and controls and the requirement to understand and document all energy management systems.


  • explores the value of ISO 50001 to BC companies
  • compares the certification process to BC Hydro’s SEM Program
  • outlines the steps to implementation and shares results, benefits and lessons learned based on New  Afton mine’s experience


Many organizations have made great strides in reducing energy consumption, but they are now asking  themselves whether their project-based approach to energy savings will reach their  goals. Often, the  answer is to introduce a systematic approach to managing energy, also known as an Energy Management System. Taking  a management systems approach and  establishing sound business processes are necessary for achieving continual improvement in many aspects of an organization. Energy is no different.

In summer 2011, the International Standards Organization released the ISO 50001 Energy Management System Standard which formalises energy management and  provides a global benchmark. This standard has been adopted by the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation amongst other national organisations.


Why ISO 50001 for New Gold’s New Afton Mine?


With gold prices dropping from $1,900 per ounce in 2011 to under $1,200 in 2015, cost reductions in production and operations are critical in the mining business. To maintain competitiveness, producers must find improvements that require minimal capital investment through innovation, creativity, and improved systems.

“Mining is energy intensive,” says  Andrew Cooper, New  Afton’s Energy Specialist. “At the  New  Afton Mine,  a one  per cent reduction in energy costs is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. With low commodity prices and  increasing offshore competition, energy-efficiency improvement is one of the few  places where we find increases in profitability.” ISO certification offers value to the  company in several ways. It helps achieve the consistent cost reductions the company requires to remain competitive. From a social responsibility perspective, ISO fits well with New Gold’s corporate social responsibility program as well as the company’s Towards Sustainability Mining initiatives. Furthermore, ISO 50001 provides a vehicle  to achieve the company’s Energy Management vision: to have  energy management practiced by all employees on a day-to-day basis.

A key element of the value ISO delivered to New  Afton stemmed from  the accountability that it created. Internally, having  an outside organization verify the  site’s energy management system meant the entire team had  to sit down and  work with an auditor to assess their organization. Externally, it offered value through recognition and verification of the site’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainable mining.

Says Cooper, “ISO certification means a few things: it’s verification that we  are serious about managing energy; it’s in line with  our vision around energy management and our values at the  mine; and  in addition to assisting with cost reduction and GHG reduction, it also demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility and sustainable mining.”


Energy-efficiency projects often result in operational performance improvements. At New  Afton, every energy-efficiency project completed has had  additional benefits for operations (production), safety and the environment. Increasing efficiency with process improvements on an ongoing basis is part of the culture of the company, so energy efficiency connects well to this focus.

“I’m always very conscientious of the fact that the primary objective of the mine is to produce copper and gold concentrate,” says Cooper. “If something’s just going to save energy and not help with production, people are going to lose interest. For example, we did a flotation blower improvement project, where we  saved a lot of energy. At the same time, we improved the operation of the circuit that increased production, the air flow to the  flotation process is smoother, and since the operators don’t have to run around and adjust valves, there’s a safety improvement. On top of that, we were able to reduce the noise of the equipment, another health and safety benefit.”


Comparing  BC Hydro’s SEM Program to ISO 50001

BC Hydro’s SEM Program and ISO 50001 complement each  other, with both integrating energy management into management practices. ISO then ensures these are sustained through regular external validation. Based on New Afton Mine’s experience the two energy management programs compare in the following ways.


Getting to ISO 50001: the  Implementation Phase


Since the  launch of its energy management program, New  Afton has built from  the  ground up, a different approach than that taken in some companies where the mandate for energy efficiency starts at a high level and is pushed down through the organization. By starting with the operators on the  floor and  getting proof of concept, Cooper has been able  to use  initial energy project success stories to secure support from the executive team to pursue ISO 500001 certification.


New  Afton followed five steps, many of which were in place from their SEM Program participation, to achieve ISO 50001 certification:

1. Building on previous energy management success, gained support from senior management for certification.

2. Measured energy performance:

  • Energy  Management Information System (EMIS): workshop, system design, vendor selection, set  up;
  • Process Integration (PI): server installed and  data stored in database;
  • EAC: Identified Energy  Account Centres: Milling (5), Mining  (5), Crushing and  Conveying.

3. Developed an energy policy that calls for staff commitment to continually improve energy performance.

4. Developed and implemented training and engagement plans: “When you have a 24/7 operation with different departments and  different crews, the  energy team has to spend a lot of time spreading the  word, training people and  promoting the  program.”

5. Prepared documentation: prepared for the auditor; not just program components but proof of what is being done as well.


The biggest challenge for New Afton lay in operational controls and  maintenance, and getting people to remember what is expected of them from  an energy management perspective. To tackle the  challenge, Cooper has spent countless hours talking to crews. He has daily conversations with people who want to talk about energy; this aspect of the work is constant and ongoing.

“All the interaction with the crew is important because it’s people, not systems, that manage energy,” he says. “This is how I communicate specifics of SEUs [Specific Energy Uses], the operational requirements of their department relating to energy management and how operators get to know exactly what they need to do to operate with optimal efficiency. They are not going to know that unless you get in front of them.”

With more than 152 electrical sub-meters and  five gas sub-meters, another challenge to implementing ISO was the time required to install sub-metering and ensure that each meter was communicating properly with the Energy Management Information System (EMIS).


New  Afton is certified to the environmental standard ISO 14001. However, as they entered the  ISO 50001 certification process, Cooper and  his Energy Team were surprised to find there isn’t as much overlap as they anticipated. ISO 50001 addresses a key energy management section in the 14001 system, but  the most similar aspect between the  two standards is the  document management and control system. That being said, Cooper points out  that, “it made an easier case for 50001 because people were already using ISO, so it wasn’t a new thing we were trying  to implement.”


The external accountability aspect of ISO 50001 helped build energy management into the New  Afton’s systems and the culture of the company. Energy is a topic discussed during daily staff huddles and Cooper was given a platform at the mine’s quarterly meetings and in the site newsletter. To maintain certification, the company also includes energy performance improvement objectives in the organization’s business planning process and uses a systematic approach to consider energy efficiency in new design or upgrades.

“[With ISO 50001] everything’s covered, even down to the operational aspects of managing energy. You have to identify each Significant Energy Use  (SEU), develop training programs for each SEU, do operator training on specifics of energy within each SEU, develop significant deviations and targets for each SEU and tell people how they need to act in case of significant deviations for each SEU.”

“The BC Hydro program is second to none; there are not many utilities that offer the support it offers,” says Cooper. “ISO 50001 may not have been possible without the energy project funding and coaching support from BC Hydro that enabled it to happen.”


Results and Benefits


With a strong Strategic Energy Management Program in place, New  Afton Mine used the ISO 50001 certification process to reinforce good energy management practices and achieve a number of impressive results:

  • ISO certification in March 2014.
  • Energy  performance improvement initiatives implemented in 2014 yielded savings equivalent to 7.3% of 2013’s  total energy consumption.
  • The New  Afton operation was originally designed to process 11,000 tons per day (4 million tons perannum) of ore at full capacity. With the focus on energy efficiency and  process improvements, the mine has increased production to more than  5 million tons per annum – 25% above design.
  • Projects completed in 2014 include:
    • Conveyor shut  down during shift changes identified by staff.
    • Mill flotation blower control upgrade.
    • Underground compressed air compressor relocation.
    • Increase in the port size of SAG mill discharge grate.
    • Surface and mill lighting upgrades.
  • As a result of its hard work, New  Afton mine was awarded NRCan’s CIPEC Leadership Award for Energy Performance Management in May 2014.


The benefits of participating in the ISO certification process and having a strong Strategic Energy Management Program in place have been numerous for New  Afton.

  • The mandated regular management reviews of energy ensure that energy management remains a focus with senior management at the mine.
  • By participating in the  process, New  Afton has built a strong energy team with representatives from across the  mine.
  • Engagement of operators and  staff across the site has improved. Staff are more aware of energy management opportunities and  their role in achieving results.
  • Energy performance improvement projects have resulted in a number of spinoff health and safety benefits.
  • Energy data is used instead of run hours for some reliability-centred maintenance. Energy data shows how hard equipment is working as opposed to how long it is running for.
  • The annual checks conducted by a third party provide rigour to the  program as well as validation that “we are doing the right things.” They are also an opportunity for the  mine to reinforce and renew their commitment by maintaining their certification.
  • ISO 50001 ensures that “you can’t let up on energy management: ISO requires you to stay on top of all aspects of the program and continually improve. And that’s a good thing.”


Lessons Learned


New  Afton took the  first step with SEM, providing a strong foundation for success in energy management. Going beyond SEM to 50001 provided additional benefits. These included the additional traction gained through an external verification process, the greater structure and  systems required to achieve certification and the focus on detail in the energy management program.

Says Cooper, “You’ve got to have a vision and it has to be inspiring, even if it’s only for the person managing the project. It’s got to say what you want to achieve, where you want to get to, what it’s going to do for you and  what is the  long  term goal? As part  of our SEM Program, we put ours together into a policy and in a lot of ways it’s become what we do now. The vision is still relevant today. I saw ISO 50001 as a vehicle to achieve our vision.”


Looking to the Future

New  Afton will continue to promote energy management as a core  activity. They  will use  the  EMIS to make energy management visible to all levels of the  organization and to optimize energy use. A key area for improvement is to solidify the ISO 50001 systems, ensuring energy management is integrated into everyone’s work process, not dependent on a single person or department.

Finally, the success of the energy management program at New Afton will help to bring the experience to other New Gold facilities.