An energy conservation program for older apartment buildings, launched by FortisBC Energy Inc. in 2015, has upgraded more than 800 buildings representing over 30,000 units. With more than 11,000 older rental apartment buildings in British Columbia, FortisBC estimates that simple energy efficiency upgrades have the potential to reduce carbon emissions in the province by about 200,000 tonnes annually.
According to FortisBC, 80% of apartments are at least 35 years old and were built to much lower energy efficiency standards. These buildings often provide affordable housing, and owners may already struggle with the cost and complexity of ongoing and routine maintenance. Energy efficiency upgrades may not be top of mind.
Energy efficiency investments can also have a long payback period, but not this one, explains Nicole Brown, corporate communications advisor with FortisBC, in a telephone interview with EcoLog News. It’s free.
FortisBC will replace taps and faucets with energy efficient equivalents, saving water as well as energy. In areas of the province where FortisBC supplies the electricity, the company will also replace lighting with LEDs. FortisBC will then provide a complete energy assessment of the building to identify additional needed upgrades and to help determine if they would be cost-effective.
This is all at no charge to the building owner, explains Brown. If the owner decides to proceed with more extensive upgrades, FortisBC will cover some of the price differential between a basic upgrade (e.g., replacing an old boiler with a standard model) and an energy efficient upgrade (e.g., replacing an old boiler with an energy efficient model) and will support the owner with sourcing and installation.
FortisBC is a regulated utility, and it received permission in 2019 to triple its funding for energy efficiency incentives.
“Between 2019 and 2022, we’ll be spending upwards of $381 million on energy conservation programs,” says Brown.