LEDs on display at Rabba. (Photo provided by Rabba Fine Foods.) LEDs on display at Rabba. (Photo provided by Rabba Fine Foods.)

Rick Rabba of Rabba Fine Foods isn’t shy about his love of energy conservation. It’s a passion he thinks everyone in the business world should share.

His latest project was one of the largest he’s ever undertaken — retrofitting all lighting in the company’s 34 stores in Mississauga, Toronto, Brampton, Milton and Oakville, as well as its GTA distribution centre.

And considering Rabba is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the lights are always on.

“Making the switch was good for the environment, and financially makes sense." 

Rabba’s constant search for technology to reduce his company’s energy usage led him to consistently retrofit his operations, particularly lighting. They had just finished changing the lighting in all of their refrigerators, deli counters and display cases to LEDs when Rabba made the call to switch all overhead lighting to LEDs as well.

This most recent retrofit reduced Rabba’s every usage for lighting alone by 54 per cent, a major money-saver for a family-operated business. It’s also a significant load-off our provincial electricity grid, powered largely by aging nuclear plants.

“Sitting in my office I can see we used to have four fluorescent bulbs, which we retrofitted to fit two, and then again where we now have two LED lamps,” Rabba told Alternatives.

“Making the switch was good for the environment, and financially makes sense. At the end of the day it’s [about] good stewardship. We don’t want to be an irresponsible community member.”

Making that energy-efficient switch wasn’t cheap. There was a substantial overhead cost to transition from using 2.6 million kilowatt/hour of energy to 1.2 million kWh, but they found the resources. If offered, government programs can help, but they typically reimburse companies afterwards for a portion of their up-front costs.

Rabba currently advises other companies to take responsibility for their energy usage and its associated pollution by actively seeking ways to reduce their electricity footprint. Engaging experts is one simple way of finding energy savings — everyone from personalized consultants to heeding the advice offered by local utility companies, most of whom offer programs to help individuals and businesses conserve electricity.

“Every day that you don’t act, you are wasting energy and wasting an opportunity. It’s something I tell my people all the time,” Rabba said. “My advice is to get moving, to start immediately, because every day that goes by, more energy is being wasted.”

*   *   *

While Ontario’s GreenOn program of financial incentives for making businesses and homes more energy efficient was scrapped by Premier Doug Ford last month, other financial incentives, broken down by province, can be found at Natural Resources Canada.

Darcy Higgins is a food activist and consultant in Toronto, Founder of Food Forward and Partner with Building Roots. He is a member of A/J’s Editorial Board and a long-time community, environmental and Green Party organizer.

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