The Top 3 Green Technologies for Canadian Businesses
While carbon footprint and public image are important factors in adopting corporate green technologies, there is one incentive that all business owners understand: cold hard cash.
This article will discuss the top three green technologies that Canadian businesses can adopt today, with fast break-even points and tangible benefits to corporate image and the environment.
#1 – Geothermal Energy and Heat
One of the biggest assets to Canadian business owners is, quite literally, right below their feet. Geothermal heat pumps benefit from a large difference between the temperature at the Earth’s surface and the temperature underground. With Canada’s intense cold periods and volatile weather swings, it is the perfect location for geothermal.
How perfect? Large scale projects such as entire apartment buildings are calculating their break-even point from a geothermal heat exchange installation at under seven years. To put that into context, most green energy projects worldwide break even at about the fifteen year mark, across all industries. Solar in the sunnier parts of the U.S. has an eight to nine year break-even point, by comparison.
Because of material price drops in 2021, the ideal commercial structures in the right locations have recently been quoted a four to five year break-even point for geothermal heat exchange. The time to get a quote is right now.
On the commercial energy side, Canada is poised to take advantage of the vast stores of shallow hot spots all over the country. Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Yukon are all poised to build geothermal electric plants. They promise to generate some of the cheapest electricity in the nation. Businesses located in (or relocating to) the right regions will be able to take advantage of this cheap power generation.
#2 – Wind Power via Small Wind Turbines
Businesses only have so much open space, either on adjacent land or on the roof. Assessing the best way to convert that space into green energy depends on a lot of different factors. But key among them is location. If a business is in a windy area, with average sustained speeds of at least 6m/s, it is absolutely worth considering a small wind turbine installation. Usually, assessments from the installers are quick and free, and they will have exact numbers on cost VS return within a day.
Many business owners think big, with a dream of selling their excess wind power back to the grid and accelerating their break-even point. However, the reality is grid connections are expensive. Rather than looking at a 40k CAD installation of a big 5kw grid system with a fifteen year ROI, most companies should start smaller.
An off grid, 3k CAD (fully installed) small wind turbine (1kw) has several advantages over its bigger cousin. They can be fitted on a scaffolding pole. Most roofs will shrug off their weight. Planning permission might be optional depending on the region. It is far more quiet than a larger model, and best of all, ROI can be achieved in about seven to eight years.
These kinds of investments are possible even for smaller companies in more rural areas… particularly in Canada’s eastern regions, where the wind tends to gust higher. There may be grants and other incentives available on a regional basis that can drive the break-even point down to five years or less.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with large companies thinking bigger. Yes, the ROI for a grid-connected sub 10kw installation is much longer, and yes, the heavier installations require specific placement in more open spaces. However, the long-term benefits can be dramatic. The PR benefits alone might make such a project worthwhile.
#3 – Carpool, Bike, E-bike, and E-scooter Programs
This might seem like a strange pick as a top green tech solution. But it is not. In fact, this might be the quickest return on investment of any green program that a company can implement.
Private parking is one of the biggest wastes of space in the corporate world, particularly in urban areas. This means that companies either offload the inconvenience of off-site parking to their employees, or they pay through the nose for space where chunks of metal sit motionless, waiting for their owners to return.
These decisions have impacts on how attractive the business is to new candidates, the expense of property selection, and of course the environment.
Rewarding employees for carpooling or using non-car transport is a no brainer. Carpool organization is essentially free, often run by employees who are green advocates. On the traditional bike side of things, studies have long shown that fitness benefits translate into workplace benefits; including less paid sick leave, less insurance use, and fewer chronic conditions among employees.
E-bike use at the corporate level is being incentivized by provincial governments. In British Columbia, this includes rebates of up to one third of the cost of business-owned e-bikes, for up to five units. That rebate encompasses cargo e-bikes that can be used to transport inventory or make deliveries.
What is the end goal for businesses, other than being green? Maximizing the amount of time that their current premises remain useful. A combination of work from home policies, hot desking, carpooling, and non-car transport means that smaller premises with fewer parking options are still viable for months or even years after many other businesses would be forced to move out and expand. That saves on buying or leasing expenses, moving expenses, insurance hikes, and potentially losing members of staff to a big relocation.
Green Financial Sense
It is not always the big, flashy technology that presents the most appealing opportunities for Canadian businesses. While geothermal energy and in particular heat exchange are not sexy topics, they can provide great ROI. Small wind turbines might seem like a fairly minor concession. However, it makes financial sense. Additionally, the environmental impact upon mass adoption is huge. Non-car transport, as well as organized carpooling and work from home schemes, can save companies a lot of money in the long run while taking dozens of cars off the road per-company, per year. Sometimes saving the bottom line and saving the world go hand in hand.
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