Assisting BC's largest post-secondary institution to follow through on an ambitious energy management initiative and save over $1 million in the process

The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is BC's largest post-secondary institution with approximately 16,000 full-time and 32,000 part-time students. BCIT's culture of innovation permeates all aspects of the over 40-year-old institute, including energy management.


"Replacing and installing a huge amount of lighting in 55 buildings on Burnaby Campus, all at night from 10 pm to 6 am, was particularly tricky. Prism's people were always readily available, taking action when necessary to ensure the entire process went smoothly. Prism makes sure that what the contractor has been specified to do gets done and that the savings are achieved. They keep us focused and help us look for additional savings going forward. Now we are working towards being carbon neutral, and Prism is helping us get there."



In 2001, with the guidance and support of Prism Engineering, BCIT began an ambitious initiative to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from more than 150,000 square metres (1.6 million square feet) of facilities contained in 55 buildings on its Burnaby Campus.


The retrofits and upgrades included the following work:


2001     Prism conducted a high-level audit and review of energy savings potential at the site.
2002     Heating was converted to infrared in the shop buildings in the North East Campus, saving energy by heating only the people and objects occupying the space, as opposed to the entire air volume.
2003     BCIT and Prism implemented a campus-wide lighting system retrofit, including the installation of electronic ballasts, T8 lighting, compact fluorescent lamps, LED (light-emitting diode) exit signs and occupancy sensors. Controls were installed to power off snack and beverage dispensing machines when cafeterias were vacant. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls were upgraded to allow for campus-wide scheduling, holiday and optimum start operation, summer scheduling and exhaust fan control.
2004     The central heating plant was modernized with state-of-the-art combustion controls and a heat exchanger in the common boiler stack to recover waste heat. Variable speed compressors were installed to significantly reduce compressed air use and its associated costs.

The cost of the upgrades was significantly offset by the combined contributions from BC Hydro and Natural Resources Canada of over $600,000--made possible by Prism coordinating the extensive reporting of energy savings.


Cost savings and recognition for the project included the following:

  • over $1.3 million in utility costs saved in the three and half years post retrofit
  • cost savings exceeding $650,000 in 2007--08 fiscal year
  • a 22% decrease in electricity and natural gas consumption from year 2000 levels
  • 2,282 tonnes of GHG emissions prevented in the latest fiscal year alone
  • BCIT was presented with a Power Smart Excellence Award from BC Hydro in 2004
  • Based on a net project cost of $2 million, the project paid for itself in less than four years