Kelowna hotel takes on climate change

Investing in carbon reduction projects like solar PV panels was off the table for most businesses—until now.

Solar panels on the roof of the Best Western Hotel in Kelowna.

With some help from a local consulting firm, the Best Western Hotel in Kelowna has realized a new mission to help businesses tackle climate change in a cost effective manner.

GreenStep Solutions has created an innovative program, called ecobase Certified, that has further enhanced the Best Western’s reputation as an environment-conscious hotel.

“We strive to go above and beyond with our green initiatives,” said Greg Salloum, proprietor of the Best Western Plus Kelowna. “We started with a solar thermal system in 2002 and we’ve done almost everything else we can to reduce our impacts, including our recent LEED Silver Certified environmental wing and new Tesla Supercharger station.

“Installing a solar PV array has been a goal of mine for a long time, and with this program we’ve been able to make it a reality.”

The program, launched in 2015, has helped the hotel to create a “carbon conscious” experience for their guests, measuring its carbon footprint while generating a sizeable eco fund targeted for investments in large carbon reduction projects at the property that might otherwise not be initiated.

“Scientists and economists have warned that we need to start investing a bare minimum of 1% of GDP in order to avert a climate catastrophe, or face costs exceeding 20% of GDP if we do nothing,” said Angela Nagy, CEO of GreenStep and a former Kelowna city councillor.

“We created ecobase Certified with the vision of helping thousands of businesses to make investments in carbon-busting projects while also delivering a return on investment.”

The 184-panel, grid-tied solar PV module system is being supplied and installed by Swiss Solar Tech, a leader in providing heat recovery and solar technologies for residential and commercial applications. Once operational, the system will generate more than 64,500 kWh, enough to power six Canadian homes, annually.

“The sun hasn’t raised its rate for over four billion years. Pricing for solar PV will never be as low as now, since the demand is rapidly increasing in Canada. You won’t be the first but please, don’t be the last.” said Roger Huber, CEO of Swiss Solar Tech.

Hotels and other businesses participating in the ecobase Certified program add a nominal eco fee to their guest’s transactions, with a commitment to measure and reduce their carbon footprint based on international standards.

The eco fees are remitted to GreenStep monthly and held in trust until a project has been implemented, providing accountability that the funds are being used as promised. GreenStep’s Certified Energy Managers help participating businesses to identify emission reducing goal-projects, identify rebates, and assist with project implementation.

Nagy says that businesses which invest in the efficiency of their operations not only save money and stay ahead of rising energy costs, they have a more compelling story to help attract and retain customers, and top talent, helping them to improve their competitiveness and profitability.