Doing it right

These Canadian organizations are making the environment a big part of business

By Andrew Tolson

The Green 30 is based on how employees perceive their employer’s environmental efforts. We asked each organization that made the 2010 list—compiled by Hewitt Associates, a global HR consulting and outsourcing firm—to highlight some of the key programs, practices, values, leadership behaviours and actions that they think earned them high marks. Here are some of the highlights:

Aecon Group Inc.
Construction, Toronto
• Installed tracking and anti-idling technology on its fleet of more than 3,000 vehicles, which saved 105,000 idling hours—or 700 metric tons of carbon.
• Hosts a competition between employee groups to see “who has the greenest team of all.” Started an “Adopt a Highway” program as a result of this competition.
• Created new rules to control chemical spills and deal with situations involving water runoff, fuel storage, and the disposing of controlled products.

BC Biomedical Laboratories Ltd.
Laboratory, Surrey, B.C.
• Formalized the process by which surplus items are disposed of—established reuse/resale/donate/recycle options to prevent used equipment from ending up in landfills.
• “Green Teams” meet every six weeks to discuss the environmental issues that should be addressed by the company.
• Cut reliance on paper products at company functions by using cotton tea towels and durable dishes.

Bentall LP
Real estate advisory and service, Toronto
• Achieved carbon neutrality in 2009 and maintains that status through carbon emission reduction programs and the purchasing of carbon credits.
• Has the largest number of green certified buildings of any non-government organization in Canada.
• Started a Ride Share commuting program that encourages carpooling, biking and public transit; a One Minute Carbon Calculator that helps workers determine how much they’re adding to the company’s carbon footprint; and launched an email, intranet and word-of-mouth campaign to encourage staff to turn off electronics and use less power.

Real estate management, Markham, Ont.
• Developed an energy and sustainability consulting practice, which employs 22 experts who consult with other leading companies.
• Introduced hybrid vehicles into its service fleet, which improved average fuel efficiency by 14 per cent in the first year.
• Established the annual Evergreen Award, which recognizes an individual (or team) who helps reduce a client’s carbon footprint. Last year’s winner was responsible for $400,000 worth of energy savings since 2006.

Paper products manufacturing, Kingsey Falls, Que.
• Is Canada’s leading collector of waste paper. In 2009, it incorporated more than 2.1 million short tonnes of recycled fibres into its products.
• Uses six times less water than the Canadian paper industry average.
• Makes all fine paper with biogas—gas resulting from the decomposition of landfill waste that is captured to prevent it from releasing into the air.

Cisco Systems Canada Co.
Communications networking, Toronto
• Launched the One Million Acts of Green campaign, which calls on Canadians to add their “acts of green” to the program’s website. So far, 1,816,647 acts have been logged, totalling 444,003,437 lb. of greenhouse gas saved.
• More than 1,300 employees have made pledges to lower their carbon footprints thanks to the company’s Think Green, Act Green campaign.
• Lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent between 2008 and 2009 thanks to the introduction of energy-efficient products and operating practices.

Co-operators Life Insurance Company
Insurance, Regina
• Created the Youth Engagement in Sustainability (YES) program that networks with high school students to teach them about sustainability and help create community leaders.
• Partners with groups like the Saskatchewan Science Centre to help educate the community about sustainability.
• Created a print strategy to reduce paper use, started using video conferencing to cut down on travel, and retrofitted its offices to be more sustainable.

Delta Hotels
Hotels and resorts, Toronto
• Each hotel has a “green champion,” who tracks the hotel’s environmental initiatives at the local level.
• Requires each hotel to host at least one green activity in the community each year.

• Is in the process of launching Delta Greens, a national sustainability program that will align company efforts across the country.

By Andrew Tolson

Building contracting, Mississauga, Ont.
• Created the sustainable building services department, which provides environmental stewardship within the company.
• Encourages staff to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditations by covering the cost of exam and study materials (there are more than 80 LEED APs on staff).
• Launched a tree-planting campaign.
Envision Financial
Banking and investing, Langley, B.C.
• Offices are located in green buildings that have earned four Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design awards.
• An environmental advocacy team comprised of green-conscious employees manages daily practices—including on-location recycling and paper usage reduction campaigns—and implements the company’s Environmental Response Plan, a strategy for continuously improving environmental performance.
• Partners with community organizations and schools to educate children about environmental issues.

G&K Services, Inc.
Uniform and equipment rentals, Mississauga, Ont.
• Installed waste-water and reuse-treatment system in all processing facilities.
• Launched a solvent recovery program to tackle unique environmental issues within the printing industry.
• Efficiently plans delivery routes to reduce drive time and unnecessary idling.

Greater Edmonton Foundation
Seniors’ housing, Edmonton
• Replaced 1,500 toilets with low-flow brands, improving water efficiency by 36 per cent.
• In the process of swapping all T12 lighting for more energy-efficient T8 lighting.
• Has implemented a paperless pilot project at one company site, with the aim of going paperless at all GEF locations.

ISL Engineering and Land Services
Engineering and consulting, Edmonton
• Developed “Kick Carbon to the Curb” car share program—purchased Smart cars for travelling to off-site meetings.
• Partnered with the Natural Step (TNS), a non-profit that promotes sustainability. ISL’s 260 employees had to complete TNS’s Sustainability 101 online course.
• Named 25 sustainability champions who are allowed to dedicate 10 per cent of their work hours toward green objectives.

Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc.
Property management and ownership, Montreal
• Designed a rainwater harvesting system for its facility in Rocky View, Alta., which is designed to capture and store a million litres of rainwater in cisterns buried under the parking lot. The water is used to irrigate all exterior landscaped areas.
• Remains the largest real estate and property management purchaser of green electricity in North America. Powers Toronto offices with 100 per cent green power.
• New procurement policy requires information on sustainable initiatives from all service contractors.

Marketing, Toronto
• Calculated company’s carbon footprint and put in place a long-term plan to reduce it, in part by replacing on-site meetings with video conferencing.

• Relocated two LoyaltyOne facilities to LEED-certified spaces. Transformed Mississauga, Ont., call centre into a sustainable facility, with 800 photovoltaic solar panels located on the roof, generating enough energy to power 16 homes. Company hopes to have 85 per cent of its associates working in LEED-certified spaces by the end of this year. Hopes to reduce total energy consumption in all facilities by 20 per cent.
• Established local partnerships to work on sustainability issues. Joined with groups like WWF Canada and Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) to encourage corporate Canada’s adoption of the Copenhagen communiqué. Solicited more than 500 Toronto businesses leaders to sign the communiqué.

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Cosmetics retail, Vancouver
• Donates all proceeds from the sale of Lush’s Charity Pot Hand & Body Lotion to grassroots organizations; many are involved in environmental conservation. Initiative has raised $1,072,269 since October 2007.
• Minimizes packaging required for retail products. When unavoidable, uses recycled materials 90 per cent of the time.
• By selling shampoo in bars, the company has saved nearly six million plastic bottles from ending up in landfills.

Marriott Hotels of Canada Ltd.
Hotels and resorts, Mississauga, Ont.
• Each hotel has a green committee made up of representatives who manage recycling programs and green initiatives, and work to expand environmental awareness among employees.
• Uses low-energy light bulbs and fixtures, as well as digital thermostats and low-flow shower heads in all guest rooms.
• Has all of its hotels participate in Earth Hour by asking guests to reduce their power usage and turning off non-essential lighting, heating, ventilating and air conditioning.

McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada
Food service, Toronto
• Created the food-service industry’s first corrugated-cardboard recycling program.
• Is the largest user of recycled paper in the food-service industry—95 per cent of cardboard used behind the counter has been recycled—and utilizes reusable shipping containers for food and dairy products.
• Created an environmental scorecard for food suppliers and an annual sustainability award that recognizes advancement in energy conservation, solid-waste mitigation and recycling. This led to 45 per cent of its suppliers decreasing the amount of water they use when making products.

Mountain Equipment Co-op
Mountaineering equipment, Vancouver
• Co-founded wilderness conservation initiative with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Committee (CPAWS), which encourages employees to raise money and awareness for parks and protected areas.
• Donates one per cent of total sales (approximately $2.5 million in 2009) toward community involvement grants that support Canada’s outdoor community. Employees are involved in awarding grants.
• Organizes “dumpster dives” to encourage waste reduction. This effort has helped divert 90 per cent of the company’s waste from the landfill.

National Leasing
Equipment leasing, Winnipeg
• Created a “green team” of employees that organize initiatives such as lunch seminars and electronic-waste recycling programs; has showers and bike lockers available for anyone who bikes or walks to work.
• New head office used recycled furniture from the old building and was built with an open-concept design to reduce construction waste and the materials needed.
• Formed gardening committee to design and grow a garden outside of the company’s head office building.

Nexen Inc.
Energy production, Calgary
• Offers employees home audits to help them make their houses more efficient.
• Uses an enhanced oil-recovery system at its Long Lake oil sands project that causes less environmental damage than open-pit mines by removing oil from underground sand without the use of tailing ponds.
• Helped found the Integrated CO2 network, which works to implement a cost-effective network for storing large amounts of greenhouse gas underground.

PCL Constructors Inc.
Construction, Edmonton
• Incorporates LEED into almost every facet of its business, implementing internal LEED training programs and working on over 100 LEED-certified construction projects.
• Donates one volunteer workday per year of PCL time for each employee to work on community projects such as environmental preservation, natural habitat cleanups and charitable small-building projects through its Building Community Program.
• Employs sustainability experts, committees and representatives to manage the environmental issues related to green building projects and general operations.

Public Outreach Fundraising
Fundraising, Toronto
• Is moving toward video conferencing for national meetings; purchases carbon credits when flying is necessary.
• Work clothing is strictly fair trade, and the staff is encouraged to support local independent businesses while working in the field.
• Keeps a strict emphasis on reusing and recycling office supplies and furniture, which are purchased from green suppliers or Craigslist.

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Ricoh Canada Inc.
Document and networking management and products, Mississauga, Ont.
• Set up Ricoh boxes in central locations so that consumers may deposit used cartridges and bottles—98.4 per cent of parts are recovered, and converted to reusable plastics, aluminum, steel and copper materials.
• Includes energy-saving default modes on Ricoh machines: devices can be auto-set to shut down at the end of the business day, ensuring that they do not waste energy overnight.
• Worked with VANOC to make the Olympics more sustainable—will provide the information it collected to future host committees.

Banking and investing, Toronto
• Created the Scotia Global Climate Change Fund to help Canadians invest in environmentally responsible companies.
• Launched an environmental paper policy that set a reduction target for paper use and partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to educate employees about paper reduction. This helped to switch 6,800 accounts to paperless record-keeping and led to 5,056 tonnes of paper being recycled from branches and offices.
• Created the ScotiaGreen intranet site and began holding information lunches to educate employees about climate change.

Stewart, Weir & Co. Ltd.
Construction, Sherwood Park, Alta.
• Reduced emissions by replacing most of its 35-vehicle fleet with more fuel-efficient models, such as the GMC Sierra pickup truck.
• Invites guest speakers for environmental meetings aimed at educating employees; and posts environmental information on its intranet site and bulletin boards.
• Encourages employees to reduce their vehicle emissions through a carpooling program, shuttle services, transit incentives and the installation of bike racks.

Stikeman Elliott LLP
Law firm, Toronto
• Was the first national law firm in Canada to go carbon neutral.
• Changed its printers’ defaults to double-sided printing, saving more than six million sheets of paper.
• Eliminated all bottled water, paper plates and plastic cutlery in its offices, filling kitchenettes with china plates, glasses and stainless steel utensils.

TD Bank Financial Group
Banking and investing, Toronto
• Created a chief environment officer, environmental steering committee and more than 50 “green teams” that oversee environmental policy and initiatives, including paper reduction and community involvement projects.
• Spent $50 million over 20 years funding 19,000 environmental and wildlife projects through the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
• Established a dedicated intranet site that allows employees to share green ideas and tips on how to be environmentally friendly at home, in the office, and in the community.

The Co-operators
Insurance, Guelph, Ont.
• Created a “Sustainability 101” e-learning workshop for staff and directors and brought 180 college and university students together with business experts and academics for IMPACT!, the Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership.
• Has partnered with other companies, government and non-governmental organizations to discuss new climate-change strategies. Is aiming for a 10 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2010 through cutting air travel, paper use, fleet vehicles and heating and cooling in buildings.
• Created a sustainability steering committee of vice-presidents and directors who meet quarterly to ensure effective implementation of sustainability strategies.
Vancity Savings Credit Union
Banking and investing, Vancouver
• Reduced energy consumption by 50 per cent per employee since the 1990s, saving more than $2 million in utility costs so far.
• Solar panels on the roof of the head office warm the water in the kitchens, bathrooms and showers, saving about 15 barrels of oil a year; retrofitted taps with low-flow, automatic shut-off faucets save about 540,000 gallons of water.
• Builds branches near SkyTrain stations and bus routes to minimize distance employees have to travel to work; offers discounted parking stalls for carpool users, and discounts on bus passes.
—Katie Engelhart and Tom Henheffer

THE METHODOLOGY: The Green 30 is based on employee opinion data collected as part of Hewitt Associates’ annual Best Employers in Canada Study and Best Small and Medium Employers Study. More than 100,000 employees and 2,000 leaders in 230 organizations participated in the 2010 edition of these studies. To be eligible, organizations must be in business for at least three years and have 50 or more employees.