The Green 30

Here are the Canadian companies that are leading the way in creating a new culture of environmentally responsible business

by Richard Yerema

The Green 30

Click on company names for details on how they do it:

Town of Banff
Bayer Inc.
B.C. Public Service
Busby, Perkins & Will Architects Inc.
Cascades Inc.
Enmax Corp.
Fairmont Hotels Inc.
2009 Canada's Greenest EmployersHewlett-Packard (Canada) Co.
HOK Canada Inc.
IBM Canada Ltd.
IKEA Canada LP
Intrawest ULC at Whistler Blackcomb
Jacques Whitford Ltd.
KPMG LLP
McGill University
Nature’s Path Foods Inc.
New Flyer Industries Canada ULC
Rescan Environmental Services Ltd.
Royal Bank of Canada
SAS Institute Canada Inc.
Sapient Canada, Inc.
SaskEnergy Inc.
SaskTel
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Toronto-Dominion Bank
Toronto Hydro Corp.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc.
University of Alberta
Vancity Group
Zerofootprint Inc.

Town of Banff
Municipality, Banff, Alta.

  • Organic waste drop-off program with secure waste-collection bins for residents and visitors, in part because backyard composting can attract wildlife inside the park.
  • “Towards Zero Waste Events” program to eliminate non-recyclable garbage generated at special events.
  • Diesel-hybrid transit buses reduce carbon emissions and are washed with captured rainwater. (108)


Bayer Inc.
Health care and science business, Toronto

  • Employee-led “Green Matters Team” reviews and manages its environmental initiatives.
  • LED bulbs, computer-controlled lighting and heating systems, as well as environmental audits of all facilities; created a summer position for an environmental sciences student to assist in the auditing process.
  • Tree and vegetation planting campaign to “re-naturalize” and create a walking trail on its head office property, which has an 8,000-sq.-foot green roof on the main building. (885)


B.C. Public Service
Provincial civil service, Victoria

  • Legally bound to be a carbon-neutral public sector employer by 2010, the first major political jurisdiction in North America to adopt such a goal.
  • New government buildings to be constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold (or equivalent certification) standard; existing buildings being upgraded to reduce energy consumption.
  • Online emissions calculator for travelling employees to work out emission levels from different travel options, to help them to make better choices.
  • An intranet site, “Where Green Ideas Work,” highlights ongoing initiatives, such as its hybrid-first purchasing policy for vehicles, and educates employees about what can be done in the office and at home. (24,503)

Busby, Perkins & Will Architects Inc.
Architectural firm, Vancouver

  • “Green Operation Plan” ensures its operations are conducted in an environmentally responsible manner; provides employees with transit subsidies and secure bike storage with shower facilities, and monitors water and energy use as well as office waste.
  • Committed to the “2030 Challenge”—that its building projects will be designed to be carbon neutral by 2030. (67)

Cascades Inc.
Paper products manufacturer, Kingsey Falls, Que.

  • Celebrates individual employees through its “Eco-Hero” contest, which recognizes workers who integrate concern for the environment into their daily activities.
  • It recycles 2.8 million tonnes of board and paper every year, accounting for 77 per cent of the raw material used by the company, making it the largest user of recycled fibres in Canada and the 11th-largest worldwide.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by 26 per cent since 1990 and it currently uses five times less water than the Canadian industrial average. (10,400)

Enmax Corp.
Energy distribution firm, Calgary

  • “Enmax Ecopledge” program encourages workers to take specific actions to reduce their environmental footprint at work and at home; more than 87 per cent of employees signed the pledge in its first few months.
  • Hosts initiatives ranging from transportation fairs (to encourage use of public transit and alternative transportation) to setting up a battery recycling program.
  • Idle-free zone policy at company facilities requires drivers to turn off their engines.
  • Rooftop solar power demonstration centre will evaluate how different solar technologies perform in the Alberta climate. (1,196)

Fairmont Hotels Inc.
Luxury hotels & resorts, Toronto

  • Employee-run recycling programs are so successful and profitable that each hotel has its own “Green Team,” which meets monthly and includes employees from all departments; properties compete for coveted “Environmental Hotel of the Year” title.
  • Long-standing environmental program focuses on waste management, energy and water conservation, and the use of earth-friendly products; at some hotels more than 80 per cent of items previously thrown away as garbage, such as food scraps and used furniture, are now recycled or reused.
  • With their “Green Partnership Guide” distributed to hotel management schools and even other hotel chains, it literally wrote the book on how to build a greener business.
  • Wide variety of environmental initiatives including organic gardens, nature trails at resort locations and support for clean air initiatives and habitat protection; golf courses are part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary system and hotel properties worldwide operate programs to raise awareness and protect endangered species in areas where they operate, including raising funds to conserve the beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River, right whales off the coast of New Brunswick, grizzly bears and wolves in Alberta, sea turtles in Acapulco and bluebirds in Bermuda. (8,836)

Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co.
Computer products, Mississauga, Ont.

  • Provides free employee recycling depots at its offices for batteries, mobile phones, ink and laser jet cartridges and compact discs; for last year’s Earth Day employees collected and recycled more than 46,000 kg of old electronics from their homes and company offices.
  • Funds the employee-led “HP Sustainability Network” since 1998, which supports educational, networking and sustainable practice initiatives within the firm.
  • Encourages employees to leave the car at home through a long-standing commitment to telecommuting, and also provides preferred parking for carpoolers and shower facilities for bicycle commuters at some locations.
  • Head office is situated on seven hectares of land adjacent to an environmentally protected ravine, where the company planted more than 26,000 trees and shrubs; inside, the building features motion-sensitive lighting to cut energy use.
  • “HP Green Advocates” program educates employee volunteers who attend quarterly training seminars and disseminate environmental information across the company, as well as to HP customers.
  • As well as having recycled hundreds of millions of pounds of used computer equipment and ink cartridges since 1987, last year it sponsored “Waste Reduction Week”—volunteer employees collected more than 6,800 kg of discarded electronics at the University of Waterloo and sent it to the firm’s recycling facility in Brampton. (3,841)

HOK Canada Inc.
Architectural firm, Toronto

  • Workplace initiatives range from using recycled paper and biodegradable cleaning products to installing motion-sensor-controlled lighting fixtures in the office.
  • Carbon footprint reduction strategy aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2010.
  • Electricity comes from Bullfrog Power, a Canadian energy provider that exclusively uses emission-free sources, such as wind and low-impact hydro.
  • Completed more than 30 LEED-certified projects worldwide, nine of which got the highest gold standard, including its own head office.
  • Building partnerships with the Clean Air Foundation’s “One Panel” initiative to promote solar power generation in Canada as well as the Biomimicry Guild, which incorporates nature’s best ideas into building design. (339)

IBM Canada Ltd.
Computer products and services, Markham, Ont.

  • Awarded the Building Owners and Managers Association “Go Green Plus” certification—a Canadian award for existing structures determined by measuring energy usage, water consumption, office waste, emissions, indoor work environment and environmental management initiatives—for its Markham facility.
  • Founding member of “Smart Commute 404-7” that advocates responsible commuting in its rapidly growing suburban neighbourhood, and has an employee cycling club that encourages other employees to cycle to and from their workplace; shower and changing facilities for those taking self-propelled transportation.
  • An international telecommuting network eliminates needless commutes and tonnes of CO2 emissions along the way.
  • Provided its Bromont, Que., workers with 2,000 trees last year to promote in-house recycling programs. (17,377)

IKEA Canada LP
Home furnishings retailer, Burlington, Ont.

  • After introducing a five-cent charge for plastic bags in 2007, plastic bag usage dropped by 90 per cent.
  • Recycling depots where customers can drop off compact fluorescent light bulbs (which contain low levels of mercury), halogen bulbs and old batteries—even non-IKEA brands.
  • Regular environmental audits ensure stores maintain or improve their internal efforts to recycle, reduce waste and save energy.
  • Preferred green parking spaces for customers who drive hybrid, fuel-efficient and electric vehicles.
  • Employees have planted over 14,000 trees as part of “Pick a Tree, Plant a Tree” initiative, in partnership with Tree Canada.
  • IKEA Canada parent company’s sourcing policy means it won’t accept illegally felled wood or wood from intact natural forests; suppliers required to document the origin of their wood and monitor forestry companies. (1,475)

Intrawest ULC at Whistler Blackcomb
Ski resort, Whistler, B.C.

  • A $32-million hydroelectric plant under construction within the ski area will produce clean electricity for all operations, offsetting more than 11,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and making the resort carbon neutral in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
  • Full-time “Environmental Coordinator” manages zero-waste goal initiatives; aggressive recycling and composting programs have goal of reducing waste by 75 per cent in food and beverage operations; light timers, temperature control and energy-efficient light bulbs installed in a majority of facilities.
  • More than 40 employees participate in a carpool program that uses five company vehicles, saving an estimated 64,000 km of driving, equivalent to more than 200 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
  • “Operation Green-Up” program has spent $1.5 million since 1999 enhancing the natural environment, including limiting erosion in watersheds, protecting drinking water and reintroducing native plant seeds and species; works with a local community organization, the Habitat Improvement Team, to protect, restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the area, as well as partnering with local government and other area businesses in developing a community sustainability plan called Whistler 2020.
  • Trains employees on best environmental practices and hosts ecology and wildlife tours for visitors; has more than 50 environmental interpretive sites throughout the property. (2,853)

Jacques Whitford Ltd.
Consulting engineering firm, Dartmouth, N.S.

  • Has reached carbon-neutral status, with each office required to reduce its carbon footprint every year.
  • Employee “green teams” review day-to-day office practices, such as purchasing environmentally friendly products and monitoring waste management programs.
  • Encourages carpooling and bicycling to work, with some locations providing secure bike storage and shower facilities.
  • Completed the first LEED-certified office in New Brunswick. (132)

KPMG LLP
Audit, tax, corporate finance services, Toronto

  • After measuring carbon emissions in business travel, set a 10 per cent reduction target to be achieved through increased utilization of video conferencing technology and updated travel policies.
  • Aggressive paper-reduction targets to be achieved through double-sided printing, electronic document sharing software and a “think before we print” educational campaign for all employees; half of all paper used has recycled content and 70 per cent of virgin paper must be sourced from sustainably managed forest operations.
  • In-house energy saving initiatives include reviewing heating and air conditioning equipment efficiency, thermostat settings, office lighting as well as conducting awareness campaigns to remind employees about the importance of reducing their own consumption through measures such as shutting down their computers.
  • Office waste-reduction strategies, which are managed by employee-led EPI Office Champions at each location, include recycling, and procurement of reusable and recyclable products.
  • New office space and building construction has to meet green-building standards, such as LEED certifications.
  • Environmental groups added to list of charitable organizations the firm supports through its long-standing “KPMG Foundation” community program. (5,152)

McGill University
University, Montreal

  • Environmental officer hired and “Rethink McGill” strategy launched to bring together employees, faculty and students to reduce the university’s energy consumption in keeping with provincial mandate of a 14 per cent reduction by 2011 from 2003 levels.
  • Unnecessary pesticide use eliminated.
  • Bicycle lending program established at its suburban Macdonald campus.
  • Paper telephone directories eliminated, on-campus recycling program expanded; use of recycled-content paper expanded from zero two years ago to 33 per cent used for daily functions.
  • Geothermal heating system installed. (5,495)

Nature’s Path Foods Inc.
Breakfast food manufacturer, Richmond, B.C.

  • Employees get $1,000 subsidy toward the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.
  • Workers manage own organic garden and composting program for food waste; green roof constructed on company’s head office.
  • Zero waste goal, plus 2012 carbon-reduction goal of 20 per cent below 2005 level.
  • Donates one per cent of sales from “EnviroKidz” product line to species and habitat conservation programs worldwide.
  • Development of organic products has helped to eliminate the use of tonnes of synthetic fertilizers and has helped keep more than 14,000 hectares of farmland under organic stewardship. (156)

New Flyer Industries Canada ULC
Transit-bus maker, Winnipeg

  • Metal recycling initiatives in manufacturing process meant it recycled more than 850 tonnes of aluminum, copper, steel and stainless steel last year.
  • Environmental Coordinator oversees policies, such as the employee carpool program, which has preferred parking spots, and also develops other energy saving strategies, such as shutting down unused computers and unnecessary lights.
  • Offers a variety of alternative bus designs for mass transit providers across North America, incorporating electric trolley, clean diesel and hybrid technologies. (1,338)

Rescan Environmental Services Ltd.
Environmental and engineering consulting firm, Vancouver

  • “Green Rebate Program” provides a 25 per cent reimbursement (up to $250 annually) on qualified environmentally friendly purchases such as energy-efficient light bulbs, cloth diapers, water barrels, native plant species, bicycles and tune-ups.
  • Toyota Prius hybrid for employee use plus an employer-paid rebate for the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.
  • Employee-led “Green Ideas Committee” reviews and introduces green initiatives in the office; the company now serves organic teas and fair-trade-certified coffee and is using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper in printers and copiers. (107)

Royal Bank of Canada
Financial services, Toronto

  • “RBC Environmental Blueprint” strategy addresses ways the bank and its employees can tackle environmental issues, such as climate change, biodiversity, forest and water resource management; three priorities include reducing its environmental footprint, promoting environmentally responsible business activities, and developing environmental products and services.
  • “EnergySmart” program has installed energy-efficient lighting, purchased clean, renewable “green energy” to power more than 75 branches as well as purchased zero-emission offsets for 23 additional branches; new retail banking and insurance locations to be powered with green energy.
  • Buys FSC-certified paper products where possible and has recently ensured that all office paper in Canada is now FSC-certified. (52,000)

SAS Institute Canada Inc.
Business software, Toronto

  • Constructed the first commercial office building in Canada that is LEED-registered, using 55 per cent recycled materials in its construction, and incorporated energy saving features to use up to 50 per cent less energy than a traditional structure.
  • Filters for drinking water negate need for plastic bottles; disposable paper plates and cutlery replaced with reusable dishes, glasses, cups and cutlery.
  • Used laptops and personal computers donated to charitable organizations for a second life. (208)

Sapient Canada, Inc.
IT consulting and marketing, Toronto

  • Employees eliminated disposable plates, cups and cutlery; energy saving kitchen appliances installed; paper towels replaced with hand dryers; recycling and office paper reuse programs established; cleaning service encouraged to use environmentally friendly products.
  • Nightly shutdown protocol for all non-essential electronics and lighting to conserve energy.
  • Used laptops donated to Reboot Canada, which refurbishes and distributes used computers to charitable and non-profit organizations across the country.
  • Recently moved into an LEED-certified head office to help reduce its carbon footprint. (187)

SaskEnergy Inc.
Natural gas distributor, Regina

  • Employees can control their lighting through motion-sensitive fixtures in meeting rooms and light switches in offices; a follow-up educational and promotional campaign encouraged employees to turn out the lights when they leave; CFL lights installed where possible and a light management system in place to reduce unnecessary electricity consumption by reducing lighting after hours and on holidays.
  • Employee rebates (up to $1,000) for purchase of high-efficiency furnaces and (up to $2,400) for construction of a new energy-efficient home.
  • Rebates, grants, and loans available to help customers buy energy-efficient appliances; annual volunteer-driven home energy upgrade project for province’s low-income families. (997)

SaskTel
Communications firm, Regina

  • Extensive in-house recycling programs for batteries, printer cartridges, office paper, light bulbs, phone books, furniture, office equipment, wire and cabling and computer equipment meant that more than 770,000 kg of waste, or 69 per cent of the company’s total, was diverted from landfill last year.
  • “Ecological Strategy” commits the company to consider environmental impacts as part of its decision-making processes while a “Greenhouse Gas Management” plan has aggressive reduction targets for the use of electricity, natural gas and fuel.
  • Sponsors local recycling projects for a variety of household items, diverting thousands of litres of paint, tonnes of waste batteries and old telephone directories from landfills every year; employees have used their expertise to repair and donate more than 25,000 surplus computers to local schools and community organizations since 1993. (3,363)

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Hospital, Toronto

  • Manager of environmental sustainability oversees ongoing initiatives and plans for the future; in midst of $28-million facility renewal including installing energy-efficient lighting, upgrading heating and air conditioning systems and adding state-of-the-art building automation systems, all of which will cut greenhouse gas emissions by a projected 9,000 tonnes. A large photovoltaic array will be installed and architecturally integrated into an existing structure.
  • “Earth Matters Showcase” event educates employees about environmental initiatives under way and how employees can become more involved, both at work and at home; is developing a next-generation recycling program, including better composting efforts.
  • In response to feedback from anesthesiologists, the hospital installed anaesthetic gas absorption technology to reduce by 95 per cent the amount of waste gas released into the environment, which has prevented the release of more than 470 tonnes of CO2-equivalent gases into the atmosphere. (5,179)

Toronto-Dominion Bank
Financial services, Toronto

  • Employee-led “Green Teams” and individual “Green Ambassadors” manage corporate initiatives, which include paperless record keeping, recycling and reduced paper usage, and new environmentally focused procurement strategies.
  • Targets being carbon neutral by 2010; LEED standards for new construction as well as matching wind power investments through Bullfrog Power to offset 6,432 megawatt hours of annual energy consumption from its ATM network.
  • “TD Friends of the Environment Foundation” has provided over $45 million to Canadian environmental projects since 1990. (36,174)

Toronto Hydro Corp.
Electrical utility, Toronto

  • Gives out $10 transit subsidies each month to employees.
  • Employees and their families planted over 2,000 trees and shrubs for Earth Day since 2004.
  • Has saved 355 megawatts of electricity since 2005—enough to power approximately 240,000 homes—through recycling and reuse programs; converting vehicles to biodiesel and ethanol; maintains a solar panel array and installed the first urban wind turbine in North America.
  • Power saving initiatives for customers include giving away over 75,000 retractable clotheslines, handing out one free string of LED Christmas lights for every two incandescent strings returned, and a 10 per cent discount on summer electricity bills for residential customers who reduced their demand by 10 per cent from the previous summer; business customers get a 10 per cent credit on their summer electricity bills for a 10 per cent cut in energy consumed. (1,542)

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc.
Automobile manufacturer, Cambridge, Ont.

  • Heat reclamation technology saves enough energy to warm 65,000 homes each year.
  • Recently achieved its goal of zero waste to the landfill through extensive recycling, reusing, reducing and composting programs.
  • Sponsored a green roof at nearby Laurel Creek Nature Centre, which showcases the benefits of the technology such as reduced heating and cooling costs. (5,186)

University of Alberta
University, Edmonton

  • $25-million energy management program that will save more than $1.7 million in utility costs and reduce CO2 emissions by 20,000 tonnes annually.
  • Sustainable cleaning practices include environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals.
  • Composting of organic kitchen waste in university dining facilities as well as landscaping waste.
  • “Green demolition” program encourages salvage and reuse of building materials during renovations and demolitions. (7,259)

Vancity Group
Financial services, Vancouver

  • Customers get discounted loan rates for hybrid vehicles and energy-efficient home renovations; green building grant program is funded by profits from its credit card operations.
  • Carbon-neutral goal met through reductions in the company’s greenhouse gas emissions combined with investments in climate-friendly projects to offset remaining emissions.
  • “Cut the Carbon” campaign, in partnership with B.C. Hydro, challenges employees to reduce their office footprints and offers monthly prizes.
  • Half of employees use public transit or alternative transit, including carpooling and bicycling; firm maintains a small fleet of Smart cars and easy-to-ride bicycles when workers have to attend off-site meetings. (1,954)

Zerofootprint Inc.
Environmental consulting and software firm, Toronto

  • Free online carbon calculator lets kids and adults determine how many tonnes of carbon dioxide they produce as part of their day-to-day activities and helps to find ways to reduce their carbon footprints. (13)

–Compiled by Patricia Treble




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