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New Brunswick Commercial Buildings Complete Efficiency Upgrades And Are Showing Big Results

Image: Nick Staples/BrainWorks Marketing

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton has gotten bigger but its power bill has not, a result of participating in the Commercial Buildings Retrofit Program. The program, offered by NB Power, is helping businesses and organizations across New Brunswick save both money and the environment.

The gallery, host to world-famous and fragile art collections, underwent a big expansion that included energy-efficiency upgrades.

“For many years, our temperature control system was basically working against itself, heating and cooling at the same time in order to maintain a stable environment, and using much more energy than needed,” says Tim Murphy, Construction Project Manager at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

“Thanks to the Commercial Building Retrofit Program, we were able to update our heating and cooling system with new digital controls. Not only does the new digital control system enable us to better regulate the conditioned environment, it’s also helped us significantly lower our energy usage and power bills.”

The program assists businesses big and small in learning about their energy usage, determining what improvements can be made, and helping to pay for those upgrades with great incentives.

“The program works really well for most companies or buildings in New Brunswick,” says Beth Pollock, Program Delivery Manager at NB Power. “We have restaurants, hotels, shopping centres, offices, municipal buildings, rinks, community centres, wastewater treatment plants all participating in the program, so it is a good fit for any building that’s not a home or is not a manufacturing facility.”

The program isn’t just limited to businesses either.

“We have a lot of churches and not-for-profit organizations that come through the program,” says Pollock. “Because they often have big old buildings, they tend to get great incentives and energy savings.”

RELATED: NB Power Commercial Retrofit Program

The Commercial Buildings Retrofit Program provides financial incentives of up to $3,300 for the evaluation to determine the potential for energy efficiency upgrades in a commercial building. Once upgrades are completed, participants can receive a maximum of $75,000 in incentives for their retrofitting project costs that result in measurable energy savings.

Between 50 to 80 buildings have accessed the program every year since it was first offered by NB Power in April 2015 – one of them being the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. At the Gallery, it’s crucial that the temperature and humidity be tightly managed to minimize the risk of damage to the art. The upgrades also improved the visitor experience, says Murphy.

“These retrofits also resulted in a quieter and more comfortable environment for our staff and visitors,” he says. “And by ensuring tight controls to maintain temperature and humidity set points, the Beaverbrook will continue to have access to some of the most important works of art in the world.”

The Commercial Buildings Retrofit Program has also proved beneficial for Historica Developments in Saint John. The company renovates and restores historic buildings in the city centre and turns them into beautiful apartments, office and retail spaces. President and CEO Keith Brideau says the program has helped make their properties more energy efficient for the long-haul.

“When we’re restoring these buildings, our ultimate goal is to make them viable for the long term, and preserve their beauty for future generations,” says Brideau.

“Energy efficiency upgrades also allow us to preserve a lot of the character that makes our properties so unique. By adding insulation on top of the roof, we were able to keep aesthetic elements like exposed brick and heavy timber ceilings. I really do believe that efficiency upgrades are essential to long-term sustainability in the real estate business.”

Making their properties energy efficient has also helped attract and retain tenants.

“These upgrades make our properties more attractive to potential tenants, while also significantly improving our retention,” says Brideau. “People are always looking to save money on energy costs. I also think people these days are more conscientious about their impact on the environment.”

Whether you’re a big business, small business, or a non-profit, there are many benefits to becoming more energy efficient. Long-term, you can reduce operating/maintenance costs and energy bills as well as increase building value. Also long term, it helps the planet.

“Investing in energy efficiency strengthens a company’s corporate image and lessens their impact on the environment,” says Pollock. “A lot of companies will actually promote the fact they are doing energy efficiency upgrades, that they are leaders in their community and doing their part to reduce emissions and not be wasteful.”

Businesses interested in learning more about the Commercial Building Retrofit Program can find out more at