Ottawa co-op raises $336K for green building fit-ups

LED lights

Local community finance co-op CoEnergy raised $336,000 in a recent share offering to help install green energy technology in several Ottawa buildings, the organization said this week.

The funds will be used to install energy-saving infrastructure such as LED lighting at Ottawa’s RA Centre as well as at two local housing units and a condominium in a drive to cut the buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions.

“Each of these facilities is taking meaningful strives to reduce their carbon footprint, while saving money and creating better environments for their tenants and customers,” CoEnergy general manager Janice Ashworth said in a statement.

More than three dozen members of CoEnergy purchased the shares and will be paid back over the next decade from savings generated by the co-op’s retrofits. The participating facilities expect to save money on energy costs thanks to CoEnergy’s improvements, and a portion of those savings will then be repaid to the co-op.

“From there, we are able to issue an annual dividend and return the original investment at the end of the 10-year team,” explained CoEnergy communications manager Aaron Thornell in an email.

CoEnergy was established last year by members of the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative, which has been in business since 2010. The two co-ops share resources and staff and operate under a single board of directors.

While OREC is restricted to the generation and sale of renewable energy tied to the power grid and the group’s membership is limited to Eastern Ontario, CoEnergy has a broader focus on sustainability and energy-efficiency goals and also operates in west Quebec.

OREC is incubating CoEnergy for its first year of operation, Thornell said, adding the new group plans to elect its own board of directors next year.

He said CoEnergy is also aiming to develop community-owned solar energy programs that will have a similar revenue model to the retrofits announced this week and will also be financed through member investments. OREC has previously developed 20 solar projects across Eastern Ontario.

The two co-ops will hold a second investing round in April and May, Thornell said, adding its financing goal might differ based on “the scope of work that project partners are looking to take on.”