Canada’s greenest employers

The Green 30 is based on how employees perceive their employer’s environmental efforts

Kate Lunau and Stephanie Findlay
Looking good in green

Photography by Andrew Tolson

Looking good in green
Photography by Andrew Tolson

The Green 30 is based on how employees perceive their employer’s environmental efforts. We asked each organization that made the 2011 list, compiled by Aon Hewitt, to highlight some of the key programs and practices that they think earned them high marks. Here are some of the highlights:

Baxter Corporation
Medical products and services, Mississauga, Ont.

•    Has published an annual Global Sustainability Report, measuring the company’s progress on nine sustainability priorities, including reductions in its carbon footprint and a green supply chain, since 1999.

•    Less reliant on natural resources by reclaiming cooling water from its manufacturing process; decreases energy use through gas and electricity reduction efforts.

•    Since 2002, the facility in Alliston, Ont., has diverted more than 1.7 million lb. of packaging from landfills, and recycles more than 90 per cent of non-hazardous waste.

BC Biomedical Laboratories Ltd.
Laboratory, Surrey, B.C.

•    Reduces waste by working with suppliers to rethink ways of packaging products.

•    Works with recycling provider to find solutions for high-volume items such as small caps from needles, which wouldn’t normally be considered recyclable.

•    Telecommuting is encouraged. Nearly 15 per cent of the administrative staff (a total of 23 employees) works from home.

Bentall Kennedy LP
Real estate advisory and service, Toronto

•    Tracks energy and water consumption, as well as waste, through Eco Tracker, a greenhouse gas management and reporting tool.

•    More than 300 buildings—worth $10 billion—certified by BOMA BESt (Building Owners and Managers Association’s Building Environmental Standards) and LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design).

•    Has expanded the number of “Green Teams,” an employee-driven network that implements social and environmental programs and initiatives, from one to three.

Real estate management, Markham, Ont.

•    Purchases renewable energy credits for all the power it uses. And a “zero waste challenge” was implemented at headquarters with the aim of increasing recycling, and diverting all of its waste from the landfill.

•    Salary increases for half the team members is based on a commitment to the company’s values, including living sustainably.

•    Publicly discloses its environmental objectives and reports on progress. Last year, the Energy Efficiency Challenge resulted in a six per cent reduction in energy consumption.

Looking good in green
Photography by Andrew Tolson

Electronics manufacturing services, Toronto

•    Cross-departmental team assessed the Toronto facility to identify areas of potential improvement. The result: 150 ideas for reduction in energy use.

•    Separate containers in the offices for disposal of paper, aluminum, plastic, organics and glass; also separates waste products on the manufacturing floor, resulting in 80 per cent less going to the landfill.

•    An “end-of-life” materials management operation that disassembles, tracks and manages electronics.

Cisco Canada
Communications networking, Toronto

•    Works with governments on climate-change regulations and is active in the environmental policy committees and councils of several trade associations.

•    Distributes a quarterly environmental newsletter to employees sharing best practices and news about programs and achievements.

•    The Cisco Green website focuses on environmental strategy and “green works.” Features a discussion forum, employee commentary and a “green news” feed.

Co-operators Life Insurance Company
Insurance, Regina

•    Sustainability strategy aims to reduce emissions from business travel and building climate control by 50 per cent by 2014.

•    Youth Engagement for Sustainability network educates young people in the community to make their homes, schools and communities greener.

•    Partners with the Saskatchewan Science Centre to create environmental awareness programs during Earth Month, which included stage shows, family-friendly nature games and a speaker series.

Construction, Kingston, Ont.

•    Performed energy audits on its offices and manufacturing plants resulting in upgrades to lighting, insulation and equipment.

•    Purchased equipment to recycle asphalt into paving material, cutting fuel consumption by 80 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent.

•    Upgraded heavy equipment to more efficient machinery; instituted route optimization, maintenance and tracking programs, as well as an anti-idling policy; installed speed- limiting devices to decrease emissions.

Delta Hotels and Resorts
Hotels and resorts, Toronto

•    More than 40 properties are certified under the Hotel Association of Canada’s Green Key Eco-Rating Program and are regularly evaluated.

•    Every hotel has a green team and committee that leads and tracks the hotel’s environmental initiatives at the local level; highlights include a solar-heating system at the Delta Trois-Rivières, Que., the 100 per cent carbon neutral Delta Chelsea in Toronto, and the “living green roof” at the Delta Guelph.

•    Delta Greens, the national sustainability program, aligns the company’s efforts across the chain.

Dillon Consulting Ltd.
Consulting, Toronto

•    Implements a corporate environmental management strategy, embedding sustainability into measures of success; communicates progress to staff and clients.

•    Carbon neutrality is achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions—office energy upgrades, three-stream solid waste recycling and green procurement practices. The rest is offset by investing in Canadian renewable energy projects.

•    Has a goal of investing one per cent of revenue into social, environmental and community initiatives. Helps volunteer committees implement local projects aimed at improving the environmental footprint.

DuPont Canada
Science-based products and services, Mississauga, Ont.

•    Developed a “Mission of Sustainable Growth” that focuses, in part, on reducing the firm’s environmental footprint.

•    Produces sustainability progress reports, which detail progress toward the company’s 2015 goals, such as more than doubling investment in research and development programs with quantifiable environmental benefits for customers and consumers.

•    Undergoes an external review once every three years that looks into many facets of the business, including environmental protection, resource conservation and product stewardship.

EllisDon Corp.
Building contracting, Mississauga

•    Sustainable Building Services department promotes stewardship through environmental initiatives, education, and improvements to work practices.

•    Is part of the Canada Building Information Modelling Council, which helps save millions through more efficient and environmentally sound construction.

•    Green campaigns include organic waste recycling at the head office, and Earth Day Challenge activities that range from tree planting and roadside and park cleanup to low-impact transportation use.

First Calgary Financial
Banking, Calgary

•    An employee-led Environmental Advocacy Team champions the reduction of waste, water and energy use through initiatives including a carpool challenge and a waste-free lunch week.

•    Requires LEED standards to be applied to the construction or renovation of all its buildings.

•    The Corporate Citizenship team partners with community projects such as education programs and river cleanups.

Greater Edmonton Foundation: Housing for Seniors

Seniors’ housing, Edmonton

•    Replaced 81 per cent of its buildings’ toilets—about 2,500—with dual-flush models.

•    Is building a 50-suite apartment building, featuring solar-heated hot water and a heat recovery system.

•    Upgraded lighting in nine buildings, saving roughly 35 per cent on electricity costs.

IHG Canada
Hotels, Mississauga, Ont.

•    Uses the LEED-certified Green Engage, an online tool that allows hotels to track their waste, energy and water use and recommends actions to cut energy bills.

•    Acknowledges responsibility for managing its impact on the communities in which it operates, through green practices in hotel design and operation.

•    Created the Innovation Hotel in 2008, an online tool that allows guests and hotel employees to share sustainability-related ideas.

ISL Engineering and Land Services, Ltd.
Engineering consulting, Edmonton

•    Developed a strategic approach to sustainability by partnering in 2009 with the Natural Step, which helps companies embed sustainability into their business model.

•    Twenty-eight “sustainability champions” initiate internal programs, and identify and educate on best practices.

•    Company programs include “Kick Carbon to the Curb” to reduce its carbon footprint, and “Last One Out” aimed at decreasing energy use. As well, a smart car is available for off-site meetings.

Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc.
Property management and ownership, Montreal

•    Three LEED professionals are on staff to advise on future building projects, and 76 per cent of its Canadian properties are certified by BOMA BESt.

•    An internal website facilitates discussion on ways to improve environmental practices, and employees are encouraged to propose environmental solutions.

•    A Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Committee evaluates the social, economic and environmental impacts of company practices and identifies priorities, gaps and areas of improvement.

Looking good in green
Photography by Andrew Tolson

Marketing, Toronto

•    Work-At-Home program means that 50 per cent of call centre representatives don’t have to commute to the office.

•    A fleet of Smart cars is available for associates to use for business.

•    The Mississauga, Ont., facility has 800 solar panels that feed enough energy back into the local grid to power 16 medium-sized homes.

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Cosmetics retail, Vancouver

•    Products are designed so that they require neither preservatives nor packaging.

•    Buildings run on 100 per cent green energy from Bullfrog Power; more than 80 per cent of factory and administrative waste is diverted from landfills (manufacturing facilities in Toronto and Vancouver composted more than 100 tonnes of organic waste and recycled over 200 tonnes of recyclables last year).

•    Shopping bags are compostable and made of recycled paper, as are all the gift wrap and shipping packages.

Marriott Hotels of Canada Ltd.
Hotels and resorts, Mississauga, Ont.

•    Made a $500,000 commitment to protect the source of fresh water in Asia, helping two billion people in rural communities develop sustainable businesses.

•    Each hotel has a “green” committee that coordinates recycling and composting and monitors daily energy use.

•    Partnered with the Brazilian state of Amazonas to preserve 1.4 million acres of endangered rainforest, funded in part by $1-per-night guest donations.

McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd.
Food service, Toronto

•    Will ultimately require suppliers to use only agricultural raw materials from sustainably managed land. Will start with beef, poultry, packaging, coffee and oil (the World Wildlife Fund identified these as having the greatest potential impact on sustainability).

•    Ninety per cent of packaging is made from renewable resources.

•    Through energy-saving practices, the company has saved about 24 million kWh and well over a million cubic metres of natural gas since 2005—that’s equal to taking about 1,300 cars off the road for a year.

Minto Group Inc.
Real estate developer and manager, Ottawa

•    Green Champions are the driving force behind company-wide activities like Earth Week, the Commuter Challenge, spring cleaning of roadways and parks, and the Green Office Certification Program that audits consumption and outputs of such items as paper products, office waste, and travel.

•    The annual Environmental Footprint Report highlights the company’s accomplishments, including $4.7 million in energy and water savings in 2010.

•    Helped create Algonquin College’s Construction School of Excellence, a green facility that will educate the next generation of builders in the importance of sustainable construction.

Nexen Inc.
Energy production, Calgary

•    An annual environment week raises awareness and provides educational opportunities on everything from water preservation to recycling initiatives.

•    A data management project develops new water use and waste data tracking tools.

•    Partners with organizations like the Horn River Basin Producers Group—a shale gas industry initiative aimed at minimizing environmental impacts while maximizing economic benefits to the area.

PCL Constructors Inc.
Construction, Edmonton

•    Reduces waste by reusing materials—like using crushed concrete for bedding and road-building use—or recycling.

•    More than 100 projects have achieved or are targeting various levels of LEED certification.

•    Has its own sustainable training and professional development centre, the Ross Grieve Centennial Learning Centre.

Scotiabank Group
Banking and investing, Toronto

•    EcoApplause program allows employees to recognize co-workers for their green initiatives. Since the November 2010 launch, more than 1,700 have been awarded.

•    Recently launched EcoEnergy Financing Options for small businesses and home owners, to help cover the costs of small-scale energy projects such as solar panels.

•    Its EcoLiving program, launched last June, educates Canadians on how they can save money by reducing their energy bills.

Stikeman Elliott, LLP
Law firm

•    Saved 7.5 million sheets of paper last year thanks to double-sided printing, and eliminated all bottled water, paper plates and plastic cutlery from its offices, stocking kitchens with china plates, glasses and stainless steel cutlery.

•    Is replacing office chairs with “Celle” chairs, which are made of 33 per cent recycled materials and are 99 per cent recyclable.

•    Partnered with the Greening Canada Fund to invest in the establishment of Canadian carbon offset projects.

TD Bank Group
Banking and investing, Toronto

•    Has had a chief environment officer in charge of the company’s environmental strategy since 2008.

•    Offers a number of green services to its customers, including paperless record keeping, which saves about 10,000 trees a year.

•    In 2010, the company helped plant 77,000 hybrid poplar trees in southwestern Ontario—the plant species, developed by the University of Guelph, has above-average carbon-capture capabilities.

The Co-operators
Insurance, Guelph, Ont.

•    Between 2008 and 2010, the company reduced carbon emissions by 10 per cent thanks in part to building retrofits, and installing video-conference technology to cut down on travel for meetings.

•    A “Sustainability 101” course introduces employees to the basics of sustainability. The e-learning session is not compulsory, but has been taken by more than 1,500 staff members.

•    A Stakeholder Sustainability Survey monitors the company’s progress toward its goals every year, and serves to gather new ideas.

Vancity Group
Banking and investing, Vancouver

•    Reduced utility consumption by 12 per cent through energy-saving retrofits such as replacing old thermostats with programmable ones, and removing air conditioning units in ATMs and using exhaust instead.

•    The Vancity Visa enviroFund program, which was established in 1990, has injected more than $4 million into local environmental projects.

•    The head office, which is developing a rooftop garden this year, recycles 79 per cent of its waste.

Whole Foods Market
Food retail, Toronto

•    Every four months, stores donate five per cent of one day’s sales to a designated non-profit, often an environmental agency.

•    The chain was the first grocery retailer to completely eliminate plastic bags.

•    Each store has a group of employees who concentrate on environmental initiatives, which include organizing neighbourhood park cleanups and recycling programs.

THE METHODOLOGY: The Green 30 is based on employee opinion data collected as part of Aon Hewitt’s annual Best Employers in Canada study and Best Small & Medium Employers study. More than 134,000 employees and 2,500 leaders at over 250 organizations participated in the 2011 edition of these studies. To be eligible, organizations must be in business for at least three years and have 50 or more employees.