Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Features Operations Sustainability
Finding funds: Five steps to improved energy efficiency


March 25, 2014
By Ryan Weaver

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Canadian manufacturers who improve their energy efficiency can save money and protect the environment, while increasing industry productivity and competitiveness at the same time. The message sounds like a broken record, but some small to mid-sized businesses are still not following through — perhaps because they do not know where to start.

The following list outlines five steps that manufacturers can take to drastically improve energy efficiency, including where to look for help and funding.

1. Contact your local utility companies for a list of incentives for replacing outdated equipment. Utility companies across Canada are committed to helping businesses — regardless of size or sector — improve energy efficiency and save money through a variety of incentives and programs. They tend to group their programs and incentives in one of three ways: by business type (i.e., small, commercial, industrial); by industry; or by type of equipment. Utility companies can also offer businesses expertise, and even perform energy audits to help determine the best incentives and upgrades to maximize efficiency.

2. Use the SR&ED tax credit to save money on equipment upgrades and energy R&D projects. SR&ED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development) is a federal tax incentive program administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that encourages businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to conduct R&D in Canada. It is the largest single source of federal government support for industrial R&D. The SR&ED program gives claimants cash refunds and/or tax credits for their expenditures on eligible R&D work done in Canada. This program offers tax credits related to both equipment and salaries.

3. Apply for government incentives. There are federal incentives available for the support of energy efficiency measures and for developing new technology in the sustainability sector.

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Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC): CIPEC and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) can help your organization cut costs, improve energy efficiency and reduce industrial greenhouse gases. CIPEC leaders have access to the following resources: Cost-shared assistance to perform ISO 50001 implementation pilots, process integration studies and/or computational fluid dynamics studies; industry networking opportunities with CIPEC sector task forces; customized energy management workshops and toolkits; and technical information and calculators.
NextGen Bio-fuels Fund: The NextGen Bio-fuels Fund offers repayable funding to support the development and production of bio-fuels using next-generation processes. Funding is repayable over 10 years upon project completion, based on cash flows.
SD Tech Fund: This program offers two rounds of funding annually to support the late-stage development and pre-commercial demonstration of new technologies that address clean technology solutions (climate change, clean air, water and soil quality).

4. Take advantage of Industry Canada tools to learn more about saving energy and money. Consider becoming familiar with the following:

Green Globes – Environmental Assessment of Buildings is an online building and management audit that helps property owners and managers measure the environmental performance of their buildings against best practices in areas such as energy, water, hazardous materials, waste management and indoor environment.
Green Procurement: Environmental Awareness Tool Kit is made available through Public Works and Government Services Canada. It provides information on green procurement tools, the development of specifications for environmentally preferable goods and services, green product certification programs and standards, purchasing guides, checklists and related federal government information.  
Eco-S.A.T.: A Green Purchasing Self-Assessment Tool consists of a two-part best practices guide, as well as a corresponding checklist. The intention is for professional purchasers to evaluate their own organization’s overall environmental purchasing initiatives.  
The Environmental Accounting Online Training Tool, made available by the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention, is designed to familiarize participants with the steps and tools available for identifying and estimating the costs and benefits associated with pollution prevention options.  
The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Product Evaluation Tool, from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), is designed to assist decision-makers across Canada in the prioritization of candidate products for an EPR program.
Pollution Prevention for Small Business is a site offered through the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention that delivers access to information, tools and networks for the purposes of improving the environmental performance of small businesses.
SmartSteps is a set of tools, technical assistance and information offered by Metro Vancouver to help businesses become more eco-efficient and competitive. It includes sector-specific guides for the manufacturing and service industries.
The Environmental Management Tool Kit is a website containing a series of downloadable tools that can help a company improve its environmental performance while reducing waste, water, energy and other costs.
The Global Environmental Management Initiative is a business-sponsored site created to provide tools and strategies to help businesses foster global environmental, health and safety excellence and economic success.

5. Take advantage of NRCan’s OEE guide to energy efficiency incentives. NRCan has a section on its website called the “Office of Energy Efficiency,” where you will find numerous links to energy efficiency initiatives, tools and information. There is information available on recommended equipment — that is either more energy efficient or that monitors and optimizes energy usage — for commercial and industrial businesses.

In the next issue, my three-part series on funding will conclude with information on funding opportunities available to companies looking to demonstrate innovation.

Ryan Weaver is a marketing analyst at Mentor Works Ltd. Mentor Works helps companies identify and apply to government funding programs from both the provincial and federal levels.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2014 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.