Demand Renewables is Empowering Communities with the Watt For Watt Solar Initiative

Photo credit: Jonathan Marshall 

As the Wiikemkoong First Nations community on Manitoulin Island broke ground on their first sustainable greenhouse, a celebration was held 500 km away in Ottawa by organizations pledging to do more for the world’s energy crisis.

The Watt For Watt Initiative was officially launched June 20th, with a mission to divert funding and renewable resources to the ‘rising billion’ people on Earth without a source of reliable energy.

Demand Renewables, in partnership with Watt For Watt, Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative, has pledged to donate a percentage of their sales towards communities facing energy poverty.

Their first project together is construction of the Wiikwemkoong Greenhouse for Change, a student-maintained building that will create renewable energy and educate youths on the power of independent energy production.

Demand Renewables is an Ontario-based company that offers solutions to energy dependence by providing customized solar systems to meet the personal demands that businesses and homeowners face.

This campaign educates people on the benefits of alternative energy, including the immediate savings on utility bills, increasing the value of property, and of course, environmental preservation.

“Our main focus is to end energy poverty in our generation,” says Daniel Edwards, vice-president operations at Watt For Watt. “It also includes helping small- and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs to gain access so their work can have a ripple effect throughout their communities.”

Their premier engineering, procurement, and construction partner, Demand Renewables, has helped the Watt For Watt initiative bring the Wiikwemkoong greenhouse project to fruition.

“Without partners like Demand Renewables helping to solve this issue of energy poverty that we face, Watt For Watt wouldn’t exist,” explains Edwards. “These partnerships are what drives the engine behind us.”

Demand Renewables is one of the leading alternative energy brands in the Canadian market, upholding a commitment to producing quality solar equipment for individuals and commercial level installations. Their dedication to sustainable energy doesn’t stop at the marketplace though.

“When we started our solar business we wanted to be brand ambassadors for the renewable energy industry at large,” says Peter Basso, Chief Operating Officer at Demand Renewables.

Watt For Watt's Daniel Edwards and Peter Basso of Demand Renewables

“We’re growing as an organization, and we understand the importance of giving back. We believe that reinvesting into alternative energy will benefit communities in this country and elsewhere in the world,” says Basso.

Not only are they donating a portion of all their sales to the Watt For Watt initiative, but they will be making it easier for the Wiikwemkoong community to have access to solar equipment at a reduced price.

The decision to fund the greenhouse project was spearheaded by Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth (FFIY), a not-for-profit organization that facilitates community-based learning for indigenous youth. They work with different regional groups to develop unique solutions that fix the issues each community is facing, and helping them cultivate the right skills to manage the completed projects on their own.

“Sustainability is a big aspect of all the projects that we do with our community partners,” explains Cedric Pepelea, Operations Director at FFIY. “We strive to make every project as community-driven as possible.”

Indeed, the Wiikemkoong Greenhouse for Change will be built by students over an eight week period, and every step of construction is overseen by the Wikkwemkoong band leaders. The students will be taught about sustainable energy production in the greenhouse, and will offer insights on how energy fuels the rest of the community.

“The greenhouse will help launch a food share program within the community, as well as a seed incubation program kick-starting the growing season for all their outdoor planters, and help power the electrical needs of the building,” says Pepelea. “They’re really pioneers in solar sovereignty.”

The real message behind the initiative is that no community is too small to make a difference in energy consumption, so long as others join together to make a brighter future a reality.

To see how your organization or community can make a change, get the conversation going with Demand Renewables about your energy needs.