Offering efficiency as a service, Efficiency Capital (EC) is an investment solutions provider that upgrades the energy and environmental performance of buildings with no upfront cost to owners. Efficiency Capital partners with multi-residential, social housing, commercial, industrial and institutional building owners to fund, develop and manage sustainable and low-carbon upgrades.
Tell us about yourself?
I come from the banking/investment industry. As an investor, I invested into multiple businesses. About 15 years ago, I ended up running one of the businesses I invested into. This business was a clean energy business with significant experience in the renewable energy space. However, back in 2009, when the whole world was reeling under a global financial crisis, a business that was highly dependent on governmental subsidies (like renewable energy then) was never going to succeed. That’s when we pivoted to do more of the energy efficiency work – which stayed true to our energy background but focussed on a sub-segment where governmental support was not needed. That turned out to be the turning point – and since then, I have been highly focussed on the energy efficiency/net-zero segments of the market.
What keeps me going is that our business addresses and solves a multitude of issues – financial, environmental and social. Energy efficiency has a lot of low hanging fruits and provides market returns financially. It also reduces environmental footprints by reducing GHG emissions. By upgrading older buildings, we significantly increase thermal comfort, boost fresh air supply and improve health outcomes which leads to lower doctor visits and decreased absenteeism at school and work. No other business that I have worked in makes me feel as good about myself as what I do here, because of the multitude of benefits that we provide.
I’ve always been passionate about sustainability and entrepreneurship, and I’m attracted to solving complex problems and innovative ways of doing things. As such I’ve been a part of enterprising not-for-profits in the green building space. I’ve led the development of Canada’s first RRSP-eligible solar bond that went on to fund over $70M in solar PV projects, pioneered efforts to develop green ammonia projects, and now Efficiency Capital gives me the opportunity bring together everything I’ve learned into investing and developing low-carbon infrastructure projects at the building scale.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
There isn’t much we would change. The one element we would prioritize and continue to focus on is raising more capital early on so that we can attract best-in-class talent who are value- and mission-aligned with the business, as this is a key ingredient for success in any business.
What problem does your business solve?
Buildings are responsible for more than 50% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in metro areas in Canada and globally, with older buildings contributing greatly through the use of inefficient or outdated technology—a significant issue when you realize the age of our nation’s building stock. Our nation needs as much help as possible to reach its 2030 emission targets; efficiency retrofits offer a great opportunity for decreased emissions but also benefit building owners through decreased energy costs and increased building value. However, starting a project can be challenging, as retrofit projects can be complex, time-consuming and expensive. Owners and operators often don’t know where to start, don’t have the capacity as they’re managing large portfolios or they may not have the capital to fund it upfront.
We provide an innovative, performance-based investment model that removes all barriers to efficiency and low-carbon retrofits through our trademarked Energy Savings Performance Agreement (ESPA); EC pays, installs and maintains sustainable upgrades on behalf of a building as a third-party investor.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Building retrofits offer one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions, especially given the ancillary benefits it provides – the financial, social and environmental benefits are vast. Though retrofits provide a great opportunity for increased value, we’ve noticed that, despite a need and want in the market and money available to invest in retrofits, there has never been a comprehensive middle piece to meet this demand. EC bridges this gap. Our model allows buildings to invest in efficiency as an asset class while working towards net-zero.
EC was born out of The Atmospheric Fund (TAF), a regional climate agency with support from the federal, provincial and city (of Toronto) governments that invests in low-carbon solutions in the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area and helps them scale up for broad implementation.
Besides the ESPA model that was originally created by TAF and improved upon by EC, we also created a new Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) solution to focus on the commercial and the industrial market segments. EC continues to tailor its offering to provide upgrades that suit the needs of buildings of all kinds.
What is your magic sauce?
EC approaches building efficiency with a holistic lens, creating a comprehensive, 360-degree sustainable program that tackles efficiency issues and opportunities at a building’s core. As a performance-based investment solution, EC partners with each building to fund up to 100% of a building’s sustainable and low-carbon upgrades, taking only a portion of energy savings generated–if savings aren’t made, we don’t get paid. Transferring all of the risks onto EC, retrofit projects are done on our time and our dime, leaving clients to spend theirs on what matters most. By having EC invest as a third party partner, balance sheets and borrowing power are left untouched—building owners reap the benefits of a cleaner, brighter and healthier space, alongside perks of upgraded assets, new technologies, financial returns, ESG reporting and increased competitiveness as a low-carbon building.
We are one of only a select few organizations in North America that have the capacity to facilitate low-carbon retrofits at scale. We have multiple funding partnerships including with TAF, the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (a $62.5M commitment), various foundations and impact investors – this also demonstrates the level of belief our partners have in our approach.
Finally, we have a body of work over the past 10 years – we have upgraded multiple buildings, and each of our upgrades have met or exceeded the performance requirements that were set for these upgrades.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
Our goal is to become the leading third-party developer and investor for building retrofits in North America within the next five years. We have established ourselves as a premier retrofit provider in certain segments of the market, and we look forward to expanding our presence within the commercial, industrial and institutional building sectors.
We applaud the 2030 and 2050 emission targets set by various organizations/governments, but realize that there is a lot to be done in order for Canada to achieve this goal. We want to be a key driver in this march towards net-zero, and look forward to partnering with the industry and the government at all levels to facilitate sustainable and low-carbon upgrades from coast to coast.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge we face is a lack of market education. Real estate owners, asset managers and building operators of all kinds just aren’t aware of the options that exist to decrease emissions in their buildings, or of the turnkey solutions and funding that are available to increase their asset value. Before we can sell or encourage a partnership with EC, we need to educate potential clients and partners with industry knowledge about innovations like specialized mortgage insurance, investments from CIB and new financial innovations that make low-carbon retrofits a reality.
How can people get involved?
Visit us at www.efficiencycap.com to discover ways to increase your building’s value with no upfront cost. Reach out to us to unlock your efficiency advantage today.