An Incentive Program for Energy Savings
By Gail Chiasson
While mandatory emissions reductions by big industry are considered key to fighting climate change, building owners and managers are becoming more aware that they also have a role to play in reducing greenhouse gases and helping provide a healthier environment for today’s and tomorrow’s employees and customers.
In 2007, the Canadian government launched ecoENERGY Retrofit for Buildings, an incentive program that encourages energy retrofit in small- and medium-sized businesses and helps building owners and managers financially with funds equaling $10 per gigajoule of estimated energy savings or 25% of eligible project costs, to a $50,000 maximum.
Rather than considered a grant, the money is considered a contribution agreement when building owners or managers commit to measures retrofitting their lighting, heating, controls, air conditioning, IT server rooms or other measures to save energy.
To date, the program has received 160 applications from across Canada, including every province except Newfoundland and the Territories. Of these, 50 are now at the stage to go ahead, and some are at the point of getting their cheques.
“There are a number of engineers and service providers across Canada who can provide pre-project energy audits for SMBs, but many of them tend to focus on larger buildings,” says Marie-Lyne Tremblay, acting director, Buildings Division, Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada. “Through the availability of assessment software such as RETSCreen, training and the ecoENERGY Retrofit incentive, the government hopes that there will be an increase in the number of professionals who will perform assessments of small- and medium-sized buildings in all regions of Canada.”
The program is publicized though an online newsletter that goes to 15,000 SMBs, product suppliers and engineering firms, as well as through trade shows, conferences and partner associations.
An early user of the program is The Centre for Skills Development and Training, in Burlington, Ontario. It has just completed a lighting retrofit project and is receiving a cheque from the ecoENERGY program for $5,010.
The centre provides corporate training, English as a second language, pre-apprenticeship for trades, and career services for people in the Burlington-Oakville-Milton-Halton Hills region.
“We heard about the ecoENERGY program at an information session held by Burlington Hydro,” says Barb Krukowski, senior manager of languages and operations at the Centre. “Working with Lightworks in Aurora, we had an audit to show savings in our 30-year-old, 95,000 sq. ft. building. Jon LeFave, president of Lightworks, worked with us from start to finish.
“Before, we had inconsistent lighting. Now we have better quality lighting and are using less energy. Further, the work was done discreetly, mainly after hours, so we didn’t lose any business. And people are surprised at the difference the improved lighting makes.”
LeFave, whose company is one recognized by Burlington Hydro as qualified for such projects, handled the energy audit, lighting design, energy savings—including all the paperwork—installation and everything else associated with the retrofit. The Learning Centre also received a grant from Burlington Hydro to help offset expenses. However, it has not received carbon credits for the retrofit.
A new application period to take part in the ecoEnergy Retrofit program runs to February 27, 2009. Details of how companies can take advantage of the program can be found on the Web at www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/commercial/financial-assistance/existing/retrofits.