What improvements have been made to the buildings?
One of the first changes made was the lighting. The on-site building manager replaced all the incandescent lighting with new LED bulbs. “Funny story about that,” says Erik. “He made the mistake that so many people make when they buy LED lights. Everybody buys the ‘daylight’ style lights thinking ‘oh that’s what I want!’ Turns out you actually want the warm style lights.” The cold blue lighting didn’t quite suit the warm interior of the Riverwind buildings, so they were used in the parkade instead. Warm white LED bulbs were bought for use in the hallways and common areas.
Individual residents were also encouraged to change their lighting to LED bulbs. Riverwind residents jumped on the Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program from Energy Efficiency Alberta before registration was closed. “We got contacted by them and told you can do a whole building at a time and we absolutely jumped on it,” says Erik. “We probably had 50-60% uptake on that, and I was a little disappointed with that at first. But as it turned out a lot of the people had already made the changes to LED themselves.”
When the water heater in one of the towers had reached the end of its lifespan, Erik and the co-op jumped on the opportunity to make a change. “We made the decision to go with something that was a lot more efficient - a tankless system,” says Erik. “We did that in one tower, and when we saw how efficient is was we said, ‘let’s not even wait till the other one gets too old!’”
To determine what else they could focus their efforts on, the cooperative arranged an Energy Audit of the buildings. Through the Building Energy Benchmarking Program, Riverwind received an Energy Audit rebate to assist with the cost. “They told us where and why we were so efficient, so we knew where to focus our energy - pun intended,” says Erik.
A result of that audit led Riverwind to replace the front doors with a newer design that is much more energy efficient as the doors themselves are not only better insulators of heat but are also designed to be open for less time to keep the existing heat in. Additionally, a heater in the towers’ shared parkade was marked for replacement after it was found to be a major source of inefficient energy use.