Green Economy Peterborough: Get the Green!

October 6th, 2022

Anne and Steve Wildfong, owners of Lake Edge Cottages Inc, standing in front of a cottage smiling together.

Anne and Steve Wildfong, owners of Lake Edge Cottages Inc, received over $85,000 from the Tourism Relief Fund through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario to improve their environmental impact. Construction is beginning this fall as they work toward installing solar panels, electric car chargers, and signage. (Photo courtesy of Steve and Anne Wildfong)

 By Natalie Stephenson, Hub Coordinator – Green Economy Peterborough

Whether a business needs $2,500 to overhaul their recycling program or wants to install a $250,000 energy efficiency upgrade, access to financing – through grants, incentives, or loans – is essential. Experts and experienced members of our business community are available to help organizations in Peterborough & the Kawarthas “get the green”.

Pressure on businesses continues to grow from stakeholders, customers, and the public to buy-in to sustainability and contribute to collective emissions reduction targets. Simultaneously, with rising costs across the board, the business case for these projects is also growing stronger.

Businesses are agile and responsive to these challenges, proactively seeking out the financing they will need to take on sustainability projects, make impactful environmental change, and improve their bottom line.

Canadian banks, too, are responding to changing demands and can help with financing these projects. “We are seeing phenomenal growth in the sustainable debt issuance market as ESG (Environmental, Social, & Governance standards) makes its way into the normal course of everyday business,” says Susan Thompson, Director of Sustainable Finance & Corporate Transitions at TD Securities. “2021 was a barn burner of a year, with almost $1.8 trillion in sustainable debt issuance, making up 12-13% of the overall market worldwide.”

There are now greener options from Canadian banks that might appeal to corporate borrowers: green loans and sustainability-linked loans.

The former is very similar to a typical corporate loan but governed by a set of Green Loan Principles. These dictate that they can be used only for projects linked to an environmental objective, like installing renewable energy systems or converting to clean transportation.

Sustainability-linked loans (SLL), by contrast, can be used for any corporate purposes, and are tied to predetermined sustainability targets. Those who choose to borrow with SLL demonstrate a tangible corporate commitment, as there is often a payoff to hitting your targets. This is by way of a 1-5% basis point adjustment in your favour on the interest rate – and a corresponding penalty if the targets are missed.

It’s heartening to see these loans trending at mainstream banks and to note a sea change in the way that investment decisions are being made. Clearly, climate action is becoming an asset in the eyes of a financier.

Even more attractive to local businesses – and Green Economy Peterborough (GEP) members – are sustainability grants and incentives that can help a business realize a quicker payback period.

Often, though, businesses lack the time or capacity to tune into funding announcements or proactively search for opportunities. Gail Moorehouse, Executive Director of Community Futures Peterborough and member of GEP says, “There is money [in sustainability] available… but they are through very sector-specific specialties based on government mandates and priorities.”

Gail Moorehouse, Executive Director of Community Futures Peterborough speaks to businesses at the organization’s 2022 AGM – Community Futures.

Gail Moorehouse, Executive Director of Community Futures Peterborough speaks to businesses at the organization’s 2022 AGM – Community Futures. The organization aims to assist the growth of local business and employment opportunities, strengthening the communities and economy in Peterborough & the Kawarthas by providing financing and support. (Photo courtesy of Community Futures Peterborough)

Green Economy Peterborough recommends learning from expert business community members and organizations with similar values to tackle these challenges proactively and with zest.

To start, if there are no grant opportunities directly linked to your project, Community Futures says it may be time to get creative. According to Moorhouse, if you put the right spin on your application, it can really make a difference in your success. “When you are writing an application for grants, you need to make sure that you are including the keywords that the government is looking for. If it doesn’t fit within the sector but is strong in all other areas, you may be successful anyway.”

Two Green Economy Peterborough members have recently been successful recipients of grants and provide some insight into their experiences.

“A grant isn’t going to fall in your lap, you have to go get it,” says Lesley Robb, owner of online retailer Swell Made Co., who recently received a $20,000 Desjardins GoodSpark grant to help make her shipping greener.

Robb recommends auditing your business to determine where you can improve, honing your writing skills, and knowing when to ask for help. Most importantly, she iterates that if you don’t get the grant, to keep trying. Practice makes good enough!

Lesley Robb, owner of Swell Made Co smiling in her shop.

Lesley Robb, owner of Swell Made Co is working to make the business’ shipping more sustainable. The Green Economy Peterborough member received a $20,000 Desjardins GoodSpark grant toward the effort. (Photo courtesy Lesley Robb)

For Steve & Anne Wildfong, co-owners of Lake Edge Cottages Inc, a Tourism Relief Fund grant of over $85, 0000 helped them fund a new building equipped with a solar array, engineered to meet 100% of their resort’s electricity needs. Although this opportunity wasn’t explicitly related to sustainability, they were successful.

“The opportunity we went for was ‘product development’,” said Steve Wildfong. “So we’re going to change the way that we do business to make it more sustainable and friendly to the environment.”

Green Economy Peterborough helps its members to identify, set, and achieve sustainability goals while improving their bottom line. GEP is currently recruiting members for 2023 – and is offering an early bird rate to those who join before November 1st. If you are interested or know someone else who might be, please join us at one of our upcoming Membership Information Sessions, Tuesday afternoons through October 18th.

Interested in learning more about Green Economy Peterborough? Visit www.GreenEconomyPeterborough.ca or contact Hub Coordinator Natalie Stephenson at natalie.stephenson@greenup.on.ca or 705-745-3238 ext. 223.

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