Cool shop Uptown business owner recognized for energy conservation Jennifer Ormston, Waterloo Waterloo Chronicle – Jun 21, 2006 Only a couple of months after opening the doors of Loop Clothing in 2004, owner Alnoor Keshvani knew something had to be done about its costly hydro bills. So he switched the 75-watt bulbs in the store's 34 pot lights to 13-watt compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, to name only one of a number of changes he made to the lighting system. "It was about energy consumption and it was also about saving money. I'm a small business, not a huge corporation. Anything I could save here or there was definitely worth it," he said. As a result of his energy conserving efforts, Keshvani was among four small business owners in Waterloo Region to be recognized at the recent launch of the 2006 Cool Shops program. Each of the business owners has made significant energy efficient changes, such as installing programmable thermostats, upgrading lighting systems and changing old bulbs to CFLs, said Cara Sweeny, the Cool Shops program manager for the Clean Air Foundation. Some have also made efforts to change their behaviour, like keeping doors closed in the summer while the air conditioning is on. Cool Shops -- which is new to the region but has been running in Toronto since 2000 -- is managed by the Clean Air Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing emissions, improving air quality and protecting the climate. The program provides business owners with advice on how to conserve energy and save money, Sweeny said, adding it has many free benefits. Business owners receive a complimentary energy audit of their facility that instantly calculates the annual savings they would have if they made energy efficient changes or retrofits to their lighting. They also receive two free light emitting diode (LED) bulbs for their exit signs and two free CFL bulbs, in addition to a discounted product sheet that offers substantial savings on such items as CFL bulbs. Businesses that are audited and install the free bulbs are given signage and decals to brand their stores as "cool shops." And those that purchase energy efficient products are rewarded with free advertising in local newspapers. "The most important thing about participating in Cool Shops is that some of its simple, turnkey changes are low cost, really easy to implement and can make a big difference on energy bills at the end of the month," Sweeny said. "With the threat of rolling brownouts and blackouts in our province, and the increasing demand for electricity with not enough supply, it's crucial everyone does their part." As well, the program -- which is funded by local electricity distribution companies and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment -- allows business owners to pocket more money at the end of the day, Sweeny said. "When small businesses save money through these types of actions, it helps to foster small economic development," she said. "This is just one way to help small businesses stay afloat." Keshvani couldn't agree more. "Why wouldn't you want to participate? You're saving money. You're doing the right thing for the environment. It's all around a good thing," he said. John Tutt, the owner of the Princess Twin Cinemas, is the other Waterloo business owner Cool Shops recognized for conserving energy. He had six dimmers in the theatre removed and replaced with regular switches. As well, he converted 22 150-watt bulbs in the main lobby to 13-watt CFLs, which, he said, has not impacted the brightness in the entranceway. "They look great," Tutt said. Hydro rates will continue to rise, Tutt said, so these changes just make sense. "I think it's going to save me money over the long haul. Those lights are on for six to eight hours a day, so from a cost perspective you do it." More than 100 businesses in Waterloo Region have already followed in Tutt's footsteps and had an energy audit of their premises, Sweeny said. And that's about 40 per cent of the Cool Shops' summer target. "It's been very well received. Business owners are very eager to participate," she said. To book an audit, businesses should contact their local utility office. In Waterloo the number is 886-5090, ext. 277.