Nfld. & Labrador

Johnson Geo Centre in St. John's getting more energy efficient

The futuristic looking Johnson Geo Centre in St. John's is becoming even more energy efficient.

Switching out light bulbs to LED will save $10K a year

The Johnson Geo Centre in St. John's taking steps to save money and the environment. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

The futuristic looking Johnson Geo Centre in St. John's is becoming even more energy efficient.

There's a good chance that most of the 50,000 visitors to the Geo Centre each year don't know that it was one of the first buildings in St. John's to use geothermal technology to heat and cool the building and save money.

The orange boxes are valve monitors to help make the heat pump system at the Geo Centre more efficient. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Even though the system is much more efficient than conventional ones, regulating it was pretty much guess work. But now, the Geo Centre has installed valves to monitor how efficiently the system is working.

"Technology 15 years ago wasn't able to give us this amount of data in the price point it is now," said Jamie Valone, Branch Manager of Centinel Service Ltd, the company that installed the monitoring valves.

Almost 600 bulbs used to light exhibits at the Geo Centre will be replaced with more efficient LED bulbs. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

"We can use this data to make intelligent decisions to control these heat pumps more efficiently."

It costs about $100K a year to heat and light the centre. Without the geothermal unit, that figure would be closer to $160K a year.

The new monitoring system will help to lower the cost even further. 

And the centre isn't stopping there. It's going to do something most homeowners can relate to. It's switching the nearly 600 halogen light bulbs it uses on exhibits to more efficient LED bulbs.

The centre says $10,000 a year savings can be used to create and look after exhibits. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

The Geo Centre's Property Manager, Dennis Keough, said the savings will be dramatic.

"We're hoping to save about $10,000 in energy savings per year from just switching out the light bulbs. We are going to go from spending about $11,000 a year to about $1,500 dollars a year."

Keough said the new LED bulbs will last about 10 to 12 years, as opposed to the conventional halogen bulbs which last about six months. 

He said that will lead to other savings. "We'll be saving the labour costs to switch bulbs out all the time."  

An interactive display at the Geo Centre shows how heat pumps are working to save energy and money. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Keough said making the building even more energy efficient just makes economic sense. 

"Any dollar saved is a good dollar. We are a not-for-profit organization. So, the more money we can save on heating and cooling and lighting the building, we can put into exhibits, school programs and what not."

Keough also said the Geo Centre prides itself on being an environmental steward. 

"We like to set an example. If we can save energy, we are not only saving money, we are saving the impact on the environment." 

About the Author

Glenn Payette


A veteran journalist with more than 30 years' experience, Glenn Payette is a videojournalist with CBC News in St. John's.