During December, Sustainable Waterloo Region held a bright and early seminar at the Waterloo Inn on Financial Incentives that are out there for businesses to take advantage of when trying to follow the sustainable and environmental friendly path. Guests were happy to be spoken to by 6 speakers from various sectors: Union Gas, SaveONenergy, REEP Solutions’ RAIN Program, WET Program, University of Waterloo, and a PhD student who was a wealth of knowledge on Green Revolving Funds.

The session was creative in nature as each speaker gave a two minute pitch on the great incentives they have to offer, allowing guests to choose listening to 3 out of the 6 speakers in divided classroom style info-sessions. This allowed for guests to choose what interests them most and to listen in on just those speakers. With hot coffee and a delicious breakfast selection available throughout the session, we learned of the wide variety of incentives that utility companies, organisations and universities are implementing in order to make the shift to sustainability a much easier and rewarding move.

Here’s a little summary of untapped information, programs and resources that each speaker had to offer:

REEP’s RAIN Program: Did you know that you are being billed for the amount of hard surface your property contains? It doesn’t have to be so, with some measures put in place to ensure that not only water quantity is reducing, but water quality is maintained, you can earn up to 35% of the charges back. Also, you can earn an extra 10% rebate by simply educating yourself about water conservation and sharing the knowledge.

Union Gas:  Hugh Cuming spoke on behalf of this company and has assured that with support available for projects from small scale residential to larger industrial sizes, Union Gas has Combined Heat and Power Projects that allow a redistribution of waste heat to where it’s needed, which helps to displace boiler loads and improve on energy conservation. Apart from this, they have other incentives such as Auto Control and Heat Retention mechanisms that allow for the reduction of gas and energy consumption.

SaveONenergy: Jeff Quint from Waterloo North Hydro saveONenergy provided some encouraging numbers- $10.5 million in incentives for energy efficient projects. Through projects, audits, and engineering studies, businesses can have their costs refunded up to 50%. Their most popular project sector, the retrofit program, allows for per unit incentives to be devised- from lighting to cooling equipment to agriculture. They also have a 45 day time frame for quick replacements as they recognise the real world requires a quick pace.

University of Waterloo’s SEED: Joanne Adair pointed out the reality that many businesses are always interested in projects but never have enough hands or time to get involved. It is here that student power can be mutually beneficial- you get the enthusiastic students and they get a great opportunity to work on real- life projects. Along with co-op jobs and internships, University of Waterloo even has an Environment and Business course that teams up students to conduct actual projects for organisations – they get the grade and experience, you get the project carried out with little to no cost to you!

W.E.T. Program: Wayne Brabazon gave us some insight on where we get our potable water and what measures we can take to keep it flowing without having to invest in an expensive pipeline into the Great Lakes. The Water Efficient Technology (W.E.T.) Program encourages cost sharing of water and provides rebates on the amount of water saved. Businesses also benefit from fixture and toilet upgrades that encourage efficient water flow. Because a significant portion of the water comes from groundwater, it is important to keep track of how much we’re using so that the cost raise doesn’t affect you.

Green Revolving Fund: John Maiorano from the University of Toronto gave a lot of insight into green revolving funds. This is a reliable funding source that allows for sustainability to be integrated into corporate goals and through the formation of a committee to measure and monitor the progress and success of the projects. What’s great about this fund, apart from the zero to low interest rate, is that the savings created from the project goes right back in to help either pay off the loan or help finance other green projects. A collaborative effort without the additional time used!

Companies are taking initiative and showing consumers not only how much we are wasting, but how we can reduce the waste while saving money simultaneously. This is a great encouragement for businesses, and what’s also fantastic is that majority of these measures can be applied at the residential level as well. Everyone can hop on board the green train with ease!