Business and Environmental Organization Working Together
By Kithio Mwanzia and Evan Ferrari
Rarely do business and environmental organizations work together. But in our community we can see an emerging partnership unlike any other that is bringing together the conversation around the environment and the economic opportunity in an innovative way.
The Guelph Chamber of Commerce and eMERGE Guelph Sustainability are teaming up to ask the City of Guelph to update its Community Energy Initiative (CEI) to take advantage of our community’s competitive advantage; where the economic opportunity for businesses and tackling climate change meet to elevate transformational solutions.
Never before have we seen such broad support for action on climate change.
In less than a year there have been monumental steps forward, starting with the Pope’s letter on Climate Change, major provincial announcements incentivizing carbon reduction activities, an active federal government at the Paris COP21 (climate change talks) and, of course, the Guelph CEI.
The economy and climate change are intricately linked.
While we have been leaders with our own CEI for a decade, it’s now time to update it and its major components, including GEERS (Guelph Energy Efficiency Renovation Strategy) and District Energy.
GEERS offers a unique opportunity for our community to be on the leading edge in making our homes more energy-efficient. GEERS represents the opportunity to enable design innovation and will be an important gateway for small and medium sized businesses to hone their expertise in this area and make Guelph a leading exporter of energy efficiency solutions.
Just recently, the provincial government announced $100 million to “create jobs and help homeowners save energy” as part of its Climate Change Strategy. The federal government is expected to announce its climate infrastructure investment in a matter of weeks.
All of this means investing in local businesses, homes, schools and transportation with efficiency, conservation and clean renewable energy projects. Leadership at the local level to ensure that we leverage CEI would be an important step in distinguishing Guelph as a leading centre for doing business and cultivating opportunities in energy management and efficiency.
Kithio Mwanzia is president and CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.
Evan Ferrari is executive director of eMERGE Guelph Sustainability