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Lighting retrofit reaps rewards for S.D. 20

Up until nine months ago, the lighting in schools across School District No. 20 (Kootenay-Columbia) was old and inefficient. Many of the fixtures dated back more than 40 years.

So the district embarked on a retrofit project to replace all of the lighting in its 13 schools and maintenance building and install occupancy sensors in each gymnasium. Nine months later, the district has replaced more than 20,000 lights and earned a FortisBC PowerSense rebate of $24,000.

 “As an educational institution, we need to show leadership in these initiatives and work together to reach our goal of being carbon neutral in 2010. This is a big step in that direction,” says Steve Morissette, Director of Operations for School District No. 20.

The project started two years ago with a lighting audit that helped the district identify the potential for energy savings and provide the information needed for grants. With funding in hand, they replaced the first light last July and will install the last one this March. The district switched out older T-12 lamps with more efficient T-8s and T-5s. The bulbs last three times longer and use 30 per cent less power. As a result of its efforts, the district will save more than 430,000 kWh per year, or enough electricity to power about 35 homes for a year.

The total cost of the project is $600,000 and was funded by the provincial government’s Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement grant, Natural Resources Canada and FortisBC.

“Without the grants, the project would have paid for itself within 10 years, but now, the expected savings of $30,000 per year will go directly into our operating budget for other classroom improvements,” adds Morissette.

Michael Mulcahy, FortisBC’s Vice President of Customer and Corporate Services, recently toured Fruitvale Elementary.

“It’s impressive to see what a school district can achieve through a lighting retrofit. By modernizing its light fixtures and incorporating natural light, the district will see substantial energy savings, as well as a healthier, more comfortable learning environment for students and staff,” says Mulcahy.

School District No. 20 was also recognized with a 2009 FortisBC PowerSense Conservation Excellence Award for its lighting retrofit.

FortisBC PowerSense is committed to helping customers conserve energy and get the most out of their energy dollar by providing both financial incentives and advice on energy efficient technologies and practices. Since its inception in 1989, FortisBC PowerSense has helped southern interior customers save over 360 million kWhs, enough energy to power over 30,000 homes each year.

For more information on FortisBC’s PowerSense program, visit or call FortisBC PowerSense at 1-866-4FORTIS (1-866-436-7847).