By Émile Audet
May 23, 2024

Webinar: Guide to Grants in Infrastructure and Green Transition

On May 22, helloDarwin collaborated with the BDC and the Quebec Action Fund to present a webinar on the various financial supports available for sustainable development and infrastructure. Vincent Desrochers, an expert at helloDarwin, was joined by Justin Lemieux, Senior Director at the BDC, and Amélie Saint-Laurent, Deputy Executive Director and Public Relations Manager at Quebec Action Fund, to present the different grants and a typical case study of a subsidized project.

Sustainable Development at the BDC

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) offers a range of online tools to help companies adopt sustainable practices. Accessible on the BDC website, these resources include a GHG emissions calculator for businesses, enabling them to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, the BDC provides a list of available grants, categorized by sector and industry, to support sustainable development initiatives. These tools aim to facilitate the ecological transition of Canadian businesses by providing practical and financial solutions.

Green Building Loan

The BDC offers a Green Building Loan, a financing package dedicated to ecological buildings, whether for purchase or construction. This pilot project requires certification from a recognized organization such as BOMA, Energy STAR, LEED, Zero Energy, or Zero Carbon. Companies also benefit from a free session with Éconoler, a firm specializing in energy efficiency, to analyze their initiatives. EY will help identify government grants and programs for the planned renovations. Finally, the project benefits from a reduced interest rate, ranging from 0.25% to 1%, making financing more accessible.

What is ESG Certification?

ESG certification (ISO 14001) aims to reduce the harmful effects of your company's activities on the environment. Throughout the certification process, you will be guided by specialists. One of the main advantages of ESG certification is the internal process analysis, which identifies opportunities to optimize energy use. This becomes a differentiating factor against competitors, as more large clients value the sustainable measures taken by their partners. Additionally, this certification helps create a safer and cleaner work environment.

Quebec Action Fund for Sustainable Development

The Quebec Action Fund for Sustainable Development (FAQDD) provides expertise in integrating sustainable development into businesses, collective mobilization, and social innovation, as well as tailored support for public organizations.
What does FAQDD offer? Primarily, it helps reduce operating costs through efficiency gains and loss reduction. This allows companies to stand out in the market by gaining a competitive advantage and improving their brand image. Moreover, the FAQDD facilitates access to responsible financing, meeting the growing expectations of stakeholders.
Meeting social expectations is another major motivation. By integrating sustainable practices, companies increase their attractiveness to customers and improve social acceptability. Finally, FAQDD helps improve employee attraction and retention by creating more responsible and sustainable work environments.

Ecoleader Fund

Supported by MEIE, the Ecoleader Fund will reopen in the coming weeks, aiming to assist companies from all sectors in Quebec in adopting eco-responsible practices and clean technologies. Eligible activities include conducting studies and analyses, developing concrete action plans, and providing support for implementation (PAE) or pre-implementation (TP).
The fund offers financial support divided into two components:
  • Component 1: Companies
    • Up to $40,000 for PAE
    • Up to $60,000 for TP
  • Component 2: Cohorts of Companies
    • Up to $200,000 for PAE or TP
    • Up to $300,000 for PAE and TP
This program can cover up to 75% of eligible costs. To date, 1,181 projects have been funded, including 725 PAE projects and 456 TP projects, supporting 1,837 companies. Key regions include Montreal, Montérégie, Capitale-Nationale, Estrie, Centre-du-Québec, and Chaudière-Appalaches. The most represented sectors are manufacturing, retail, real estate and rental services, agriculture, forestry, hunting, and fishing.
The anticipated economic impacts of the Ecoleader Fund are significant, with $18.43 million in reduced operating costs and $55.42 million in additional revenue expected. Moreover, a reduction of 478,785 tons of CO2 equivalent is anticipated.

Funded Project Example: Usinatech

Usinatech, a company specializing in the manufacturing of steel mechanical parts, undertook an ambitious project to improve its energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint. With the expertise of Groupe Alphard, a comprehensive study was conducted to evaluate the building's energy efficiency and the potential for heat recovery in the plant.
The study identified several energy-saving measures and corresponding technologies, with payback periods (PRI) ranging from 2 to 3.8 years. The estimated benefits of this project are significant: an 80-ton reduction in CO2 equivalent, a 50% reduction in propane consumption, and a $46,376 annual reduction in operating costs.
To support the implementation of these measures, it was recommended to use the Écoperformance and Valorisation des rejets thermiques programs from MELCCFP. Through these initiatives, Usinatech not only improves its energy efficiency but also strengthens its position as a sustainability leader in the manufacturing sector.


The Écoemballage+ grant is an initiative funded by MAPAQ and administered by the Quebec Action Fund for Sustainable Development (FAQDD). It targets food processing companies, with the main objective of supporting the eco-design of recyclable food packaging and containers. This grant has a budget envelope of $16.5 million.
Eligible activities include:
  • Studies and analyses
  • Concrete recommendations
  • Development of action and implementation plans
  • Implementation support
  • Additional support
The program offers two financial aid components:
  • Component 1: Business Support
    • Up to $50,000
  • Component 2: Innovation with Collective Impact
    • Up to $300,000
This program can cover up to 75% of eligible costs, providing substantial support for companies seeking to adopt more sustainable practices in food packaging.
Funded Project Example: Aliments MLW (Wong Wing)
Aliments MLW, under the Wong Wing brand, undertook a sustainability initiative with the expertise of Papineau & Co. The project involved comprehensive studies and analyses to propose a range of recyclable containers, including material characterization and life cycle analysis. The estimated outcomes of this project are significant: identification of alternative materials, a 63% reduction in GHG emissions for certain packaging, and the elimination and replacement of some packaging. Additionally, the project improved recyclability communication on packaging by optimizing the placement of the Möbius logo and specifying the type of material used. This initiative reinforces Wong Wing's commitment to more sustainable and responsible practices.


The Ministry of Environment, Fight Against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP) announces the second call for projects for the Action-Climat grant, which will be held from June 10 to September 9, 2024. This initiative aims to engage citizens and organizations, including businesses, in the fight against climate change by supporting the deployment of mobilizing initiatives from civil society.
Eligible projects can cover various themes related to reducing GHG emissions and adapting to climate change, such as electrification of transportation, circular economy, energy, health, and land use planning.
The program offers substantial financial aid distributed as follows:
  • $1.5 million for national projects
  • $450,000 for regional projects
  • $250,000 for local projects
This program can cover up to 80% of eligible costs, providing significant support for initiatives aimed at combating climate change and promoting environmental sustainability.

Available Grants for Your Green Transition

Natural Resources Internships

The Natural Resources Internships grant aims to promote the hiring of young workers for green jobs. Eligible internships include positions such as environmental business analyst, sustainable forestry manager, and conservation officer. This program offers financial assistance of up to $30,000, covering up to 75% of the intern's salary. This initiative not only supports the professional integration of young people but also promotes sustainable practices in the natural resources sectors.

Clean Technology Internships

The Clean Technology Internships grant is designed to facilitate the hiring of young workers in internships related to science, technology, or mathematics. Eligible internships include fields such as ecotourism, health and environmental technologies and practices, and sustainable planning. This program offers a grant of up to $30,000, covering up to 80% of the intern's salary. This initiative encourages the professional integration of young talent and the development and adoption of clean technologies and sustainable practices.

Infrastructure Grants


The Bioenergy grant program targets companies with projects to reduce GHG emissions through the use of bioenergy. This program financially supports various eligible expenses, including costs related to the implementation of projects on existing and new sites, equipment purchases and upgrades, and engineering, installation, and commissioning costs. It also covers GHG measurement costs after equipment installation.
The grant can reach up to $5 million, covering up to 50% of eligible costs. This substantial support allows companies to move towards more sustainable practices by reducing their carbon footprint and actively contributing to the fight against climate change.


The Energir grant combines several components aimed at supporting renovations, new constructions, and green transition innovations. Its main objective is to make buildings more energy-efficient, thus reducing energy costs for businesses.
The grant envelope components include:
  • Renovation
  • Construction
  • Efficient diagnostics and implementation program
  • Mechanical systems recommissioning
  • Solar preheating
  • Innovation
This grant can offer over $2 million in cumulative support across the different components. Through this program, businesses can invest in energy-efficient projects, optimize their infrastructure, and adopt innovative technologies while benefiting from substantial financial support for their sustainability initiatives.

EcoPerformance Program

The EcoPerformance program aims to reduce GHG emissions and energy consumption in Quebec businesses. This program offers several components to help companies achieve these goals:
  • Analysis
  • Mechanical systems recommissioning
  • Energy management
  • Simplified implementation
  • Commercial bioenergy
  • Standard implementation
This program offers cumulative grants that can exceed $6 million across its different components. With EcoPerformance, Quebec businesses can not only reduce their carbon footprint but also achieve substantial energy cost savings while contributing to the fight against climate change.


The Commerce-Montreal grant is intended for the renovation of commercial buildings and premises, aiming to stimulate the metropolis's economy by supporting projects focused on social, circular, and sustainable economies. This program provides financial support for various eligible works, including:
  • Exterior elements: walls, cladding, doors, windows, storefronts, signs, lighting, awnings
  • Permanent terrace development
  • Roof, structure, and foundations
  • Interior renovation of commercial spaces: painting, stairs, floors, ceilings, plumbing, bathrooms, etc.
  • Equipment for clients with reduced mobility
The grant can reach up to $50,000, covering up to 40% of eligible costs. Through this program, Montreal businesses can improve their infrastructure while contributing to a more sustainable and inclusive economy, thereby enhancing the metropolis's economic vitality.

Case Study

A company faced several major challenges, including high energy costs, an energy-consuming building, a significant ecological footprint, and the need for major renovations to improve energy efficiency. To address these issues, the company implemented an ambitious project that included installing high-efficiency windows, insulating walls and the roof, replacing heating and cooling systems, installing solar panels, and setting up an intelligent energy management system.
To finance this project, the company mobilized several sources of funding. A $225,000 loan was obtained from the BDC, and grants were provided by several programs: $150,000 from the Écoperformance solution, $60,000 from the Écoleader Fund, $40,000 from the Énergir Program, and $25,000 for bioenergy implementation. Additionally, the company contributed $50,000 of personal funds.
The total project cost was $550,000, of which $275,000 was subsidized and $225,000 was financed through a loan, complemented by a $50,000 cash advance. Thanks to this diversified financing strategy, the company was able to cover the costs of its project to improve the energy efficiency of its facilities. The grants and loans obtained significantly reduced the company's ecological footprint while lowering its long-term energy costs. This initiative perfectly illustrates how a combination of financial resources can enable a company to undertake major renovations and promote environmental sustainability.


In conclusion, the programs and grants available for companies in Canada, such as those presented during the helloDarwin webinar with the BDC and the Fonds d'Action Québécois, offer substantial opportunities for financing sustainable development and infrastructure renovation projects. By focusing on various initiatives, from improving building energy efficiency to promoting circular economy and clean technologies, these programs support businesses in their ecological efforts. The available funds, such as the Écoleader Fund, ÉcoPerformance, and the Bioenergy and Énergir grants, cover a wide range of eligible expenses, including equipment purchases, engineering and installation costs, and the studies and analyses necessary for implementing sustainable projects.
These grants are not only intended for private companies but also extend to public organizations and Indigenous communities, meeting social expectations and enhancing employee attraction and retention. Specific programs like Commerce-Montréal, which aims to revitalize commercial premises while supporting the social and circular economy, illustrate the importance of these initiatives for the economic vitality of municipalities.
Case studies, such as those of Usinatech or Aliments MLW (Wong Wing), demonstrate how well-structured financing access can lead to significant reductions in energy costs and GHG emissions while strengthening market competitiveness. The combination of loans, grants, and personal contributions allows for total project cost coverage, ensuring successful and sustainable implementation.
Ultimately, these grant programs offer a robust financial framework for companies looking to invest in sustainable infrastructure and adopt more environmentally friendly practices. They represent a valuable opportunity for applicants from the private, public, or Indigenous sectors to actively contribute to the fight against climate change while achieving significant economic and social gains. For more information and to explore available financing opportunities, companies are encouraged to consult the dedicated grant pages and participate in informational webinars organized by organizations like helloDarwin.
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Government aid

About the author

Émile Audet - Canadian grants specialist

Émile Audet

Canadian grants specialist
Working at helloDarwin for some time now, I'm in charge of providing you with the information you need on government aid. Dedicated to helping companies in Quebec and Canada reach their full potential, I write on the helloDarwin blog about the various programs, allowances and funding available to enable organizations to make their digital transformation through access to federal and provincial support.

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