All Articles  / Sep 10, 2020

Energy with Impact

The Cash Management Group (CMG) at Canaccord Genuity, in partnership with Kindred and other Canadian credit unions, offers IMPACT GICs to municipalities, post-secondary institutions, and other investors. When their institutional clients invest in an IMPACT GIC, Canaccord Genuity aligns the funds with a partnering credit union, such as Kindred. We then lend those funds to one of our members that pursues at least one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, all of these loans are subject to a series of positive and negative screens so that we can ensure the funds are loaned out in a sustainable way. Kindred is pleased to profile VCT Group, a member whose loans are matched with the CMG IMPACT GIC.

VCT Group has been supporting clean energy since 2008. An innovative organization that offers clients consultation services, installation, and maintenance services, VCT Group is well known in Waterloo Region. Over the years, they have experimented with a number of different types of energy models; however, today they specialize in solar installations. Working with businesses and individuals, VCT Group helps clients maximize their electricity savings and their contribution to the province’s clean energy supply.

One of VCT Group’s keystone solar installations is their contribution to the evolv1 office building, Canada’s first Zero Carbon Design Certified project, which set out to prove that it’s possible to build using low-carbon strategies for the same cost as conventional construction. VCT Group partnered with the developer and other stakeholders to design a sophisticated solar system with integrated monitoring capabilities that produces more energy than the site consumes. Another showcase of VCT Group’s work is the 50 Kent building which houses Kindred’s Kitchener branch, Mennonite Central Committee, and other organizations with shared values.

As technology advances and prices for solar come down, VCT Group continues to seek new ways to make clean tech more accessible. “Advancing solar panel technology was the focus in the industry for about 10 years,” Brian Unrau, VCT Group President notes. “Now, we’re able to make solar systems work smarter with improved battery storage, custom racking, and monitoring software, which means solar is becoming practical for more uses—including night and winter energy needs, as well as off-grid applications.”

Originally known as Vigor Clean Tech, VCT Group holds a number of companies under its umbrella, including a renewable energy co-operative. They launched CED Co-op as a way to better share the benefits of the clean energy business with the community, providing local, visible, and impactful investment opportunities. CED Co-op has raised over $20 million in investments from its 750 members, is helping to fund a portfolio of renewable energy projects worth more than $40 million. “We seek financial returns and efficiency for our clients,” Brian tells us, “as we build a sustainable business that contributes to growth and innovation in the clean energy sector.“

VCT Group and Kindred have a long working relationship. Brian worked in various roles at Kindred over a seven year period, including three years as the Waterloo branch manager. Later, in 2011, VCT Group helped Kindred with our first solar installation at the Waterloo branch. Since then, the panels have generated over 68,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy and offset our carbon emissions by 47 tonnes, which is equivalent to planting 1,233 trees. “We’re happy we could help Kindred start on its clean energy path,” Brian offers. When discussing VCT Group’s relationship with Kindred, Brian adds: “Obtaining financing in Ontario for an emerging sector can be challenging, yet our Kindred Account Manager is always willing to discuss our options with us.” Ben Janzen, Kindred’s Director of Values Integration, concurs: “Climate action is one of our areas of focus. The clean energy sector can sometimes be difficult to finance, as various government regulations, subsidy and consumer programs change the landscape for all those involved in delivering sustainable change. At Kindred, we’re committed to learning more and working harder to understand how to support clean tech businesses such as VCT Group.”

Together with their clients, VCT Group has generated well over 70 million kilowatt hours of clean energy! Kindred is pleased to partner with such an innovative and climate-friendly enterprise. You can be sure you’ll hear more about VCT Group and CED Co-op in the years to come. To learn more, visit vigorcleantech.com.

Sheila de Peuter

Sheila de Peuter, BComm, MMCCU

Communication Specialist / Kindred Credit Union Sheila is an experienced marketing communications professional with a depth of experience working with credit unions and a passion for co-operatives.

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