Businesses making green choices

Dr. Adam Pite stands in his Oak Bay Dental Clinic on Oak Bay Avenue. Dr. Pite is a finalist in a B.C. Hydro Power Smart contest and could win a $35

Local businesses up for Power Smart energy makeover

Adam Pite has long made a habit of shutting off lights in rooms with no one in them.

Being energy conscious in the workplace can be a challenge, especially for a young dentist who is keen to utilize up-to-date technology in his Oak Bay Avenue practice.

That consciousness has been ramped up of late. Pite’s business is vying for a $35,000 professional energy makeover, courtesy of B.C. Hydro, as part of its 2011 Power Smart Energy Fix contest.

The dentist, who moved to the Capital Region this year to take over the practice of David Philip, has been chatting his patients up about energy efficiency while they lay in the chair.

“(The contest) gives me a reason to talk about these kinds of things,” he said. “When you come into the dentist’s office it’s not always the most comfortable situation. This has helped put people at ease.”

Specialized, high-intensity lighting and computers, and to a degree, heating in his leased clinic space, draw the most power, he said, and have been the focus of his initial efforts to lower his Hydro bill. Simple actions like shutting lights and computers off for the night and sealing up drafty single-pane windows helped reduce his bill from $800 through the winter months to $340 last month.

But he felt he could do more. Friends who work at B.C. Hydro suggested he enter the contest, which offers the winner a professional energy audit and funds to upgrade lighting, heating and other electricity draws.

Pite’s clinic is one of two Victoria-area finalists in the contest.

The Fernwood Inn pub and restaurant, located in a 100-year-old building in the heart of the Fernwood neighbourhood, is also looking to boost its energy efficiency.

In March it was part of a University of Victoria “carrot mob” event. The company pledged to match its sales for the day and put the money – the total was more than $16,000 – toward “greening” its operations.

Fernwood Inn general manager Mike Colwill said the bulk of their energy use comes from heating and lighting the building and keeping its coolers and freezers operating 24/7.

Like Pite, Colwill and his staff have looked into higher efficiency lighting, but also a more efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. Winning the contest and getting some expert guidance would take their greening efforts to the next level, he said.

“There’s new technology coming out all the time,” he said. “We’re just really excited to get their spin on what they feel would be a high priority. They would do stuff that is above and beyond what the average business could afford.”

The clinic and restaurant are up against Super Suds laundromat in Quesnel. Information about the finalists is available at www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/product_incentive_program/energy_fix.html.

Online voting closes June 3.

While there are clearly long-term financial benefits to the winner, Colwill and Pite also see their operations inspiring both industry counterparts and individuals to make energy efficiency changes.

“I see a ton of people and I can help spread the word on this,” Pite said. “And being relatively new to town, it gives me something to focus on – bringing in some new ideas around energy consumption.”

editor@oakbaynews.com

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