2020 FortisBC Efficiency in Action award winners

October 22, 2020


How many energy conservationists does it take to change 900+ lightbulbs?

Just ask the District of Summerland, which recently switched 902 of its streetlights over to high-efficiency LED bulbs—and was recognized with one of this year’s FortisBC Efficiency in Action Awards. They’ll tell you that before you even get to the installation phase of an energy-efficiency upgrade, there’s typically a small army of people who complete energy audits, create energy conservation plans, research the best options and apply for FortisBC rebates to make upgrading more affordable. But the environmental benefits and cost-savings are powerful motivators for pioneering organizations.

“Our community has a deep connection to nature and is very committed to protecting the environment. And, with an older than average population compared to the rest of the province, our taxpayers are very sensitive to increases in energy costs,” says Tami Rothery, the District of Summerland’s sustainability/alternative energy coordinator.

“There are really great partners out there to help you get started, including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, FortisBC and others.”

Our key account managers are part of the team behind successful energy efficiency upgrades like this. They work with large commercial and industrial customers every step of the way to help them save energy, working towards provincial climate action goals and our long-term vision to 2050. Every year they identify some of the most exciting work taking place across they province and recognize those organizations with an Efficiency in Action Award.

Check out the 2020 FortisBC Efficiency in Action award winners

What does it take to win an Efficiency in Action award?

We chose these eight winners for the savings they achieved through energy-efficiency upgrades, as well as the leadership and innovation these organizations have shown in saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

Small Commercial Customer

Interior Community Services received almost $200,000 in rebates after installing 46 condensing furnaces, 46 connected ENERGY STAR® thermostats and 21 condensing tankless water heaters.* To date, this is one of the largest rebates provided to a single affordable housing project.

Interior Community Services has been interested in looking at creating more energy efficient buildings at all the properties we manage and own for several years... we would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who worked on the Spencer Court project and a thank you to FortisBC for their recognition.

John Trotta, Director of Housing, Interior Community Services

Medium Commercial Customer

The Board of Education of School District No. 23 (Central Okanagan) upgraded Canyon Falls Middle School with several energy-efficiency features, and they used the proceeds of their FortisBC rebate to purchase solar panels to decrease the school’s carbon footprint even further.

These upgrades are important to create a greener environment for our students and our community… FortisBC challenged our design team with the construction of Canyon Fall Middle School to achieve a 100 per cent ENERGY STAR rating and supplied us with rebates that ensured this project would be successful.

Harold Schock, Energy and Sustainability Manager, Central Okanagan School District No. 23

Large Commercial Customer

University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus (UBCO) received more than $240,000 in rebates after achieving approximately $112,000 in annual electricity bill savings and approximately $19,000 in annual gas bill savings.* UBCO took part in seven different rebate programs while constructing a teaching and learning Centre and upgrading existing student housing and their science building, in addition to LED lighting upgrades and heating system upgrades.

The Science building ventilation upgrade has experienced reduced noise, which has benefitted the teaching experience, and the improved occupant thermal comfort from these projects has made the teaching and learning experience better.

Colin Richardson, Energy Systems Manager, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus

Public Sector – Municipal

District of Summerland upgraded their town streetlights to LED after doing a full street light design and energy study to ensure the upgrade would meet the highest lighting standards while maximizing energy savings. They received a $90,000 rebate and are saving 642,000 kWh electricity annually. They also carried out American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) level two audits on most of their facilities in 2019, and installed a heat pump and heat pump hot water heater in District facilities.

Being able to undertake large, comprehensive upgrades is great but even small projects can make a big difference. Start with something you know you can accomplish easily, prove the win and then take on bigger more complex projects once you’ve gained some momentum.

Tami Rothery, Sustainability/Alternative Energy Coordinator, District of Summerland

Public Sector – Provincial

Interior Health earned around $386,000 in gas* and electricity rebates for energy-efficiency upgrades to Penticton Regional Hospital. They’ve also applied for new construction incentives for Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, and are working on significant energy-efficiency upgrades at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake, participating in our Custom Design Retrofit Program. FortisBC has created custom bundling rebates for East Kootenay Regional Hospital and they will be moving forward with these energy-efficiency projects. Interior Health was also an early adopter of our steam boiler rebate that launched in 2019.

One of Interior Health’s goals is to improve the health and wellbeing of our residents so taking care of our environment just fits with who we are. It’s good business and it makes perfect sense, we can reduce our operating costs and do the right thing for our environment.

Trevor Forumeaux, Director, Plant Services, Interior Health


Richmond School District No. 38 earned our inaugural Innovation award by achieving a dramatic reduction in gas consumption through several innovative gas projects, including installing a solar wall at McMath Secondary School, and gas absorption heat pumps as part of a FortisBC pilot project at both Richmond and Cambie Secondary Schools.

Energy system retrofits are the best way for me to achieve energy-saving targets.

Thi Nguyen, Energy Specialist, Richmond School District No. 38


Canfor's WynnWood Division in Creston earned more than $98,000 in rebates after working with FortisBC to improve their compressed air system efficiency by installing a new compressor and interconnection controls, which resulted in a significant energy consumption reduction and annual billing savings of approximately $41,000.

For energy-efficiency upgrades, we recommend thinking outside the box and taking advantage of opportunities to further improve energy savings that may not always be in the original plan.

Mike Sluz, Systems Integration Manager, Canfor WynnWood Division


Home Block Restaurant at CedarCreek Estate Winery took a comprehensive approach to sustainable operations, taking advantage of rebates* for high-efficiency boilers, water heaters, kitchen equipment and lighting while constructing the restaurant. In addition, CedarCreek has been very active in understanding their gas and electricity consumption at the winery, with the goal of becoming a better corporate citizen.

I’ve been so happy to work with both [FortisBC key account managers] Stephanie and Perry, they guided me through every step when I was unsure what to do next and kept me well informed as to the rebate status at all times. For someone like me who has no experience in this you feel empowered and confident that you can make the process work for you and your company.

Ron Shaw, Chef de Cuisine, Home Block Restaurant at CedarCreek Estate Winery

*This program has been updated. Some rebates and other offers are no longer available as of January 1, 2024. Learn more.

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