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An Evolugen employee at the Kokish River hydro facility in Telegraph Cove, B.C.Provided

When your business is providing sustainable power solutions, it makes sense to operate in a building that’s as energy-efficient as possible. So it’s no surprise that the head office of Evolugen, the Gatineau, Que.-based renewable energy company, sets a high standard for environmental innovation.

Evolugen’s employees work in a LEED-certified building that overlooks the Ottawa River and the Parliament Buildings. “It’s beautiful, with lots of natural light and amazing views,” says Emily Zhang, senior sustainability analyst on Evolugen’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) team.

The company’s ESG program looks at its strategy and performance on climate change, biodiversity, water management, community relations, Indigenous relations and health and safety. “It’s a dream job for me,” says Zhang. “We support other companies’ transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon future, and we also work to improve our own performance. We’ve been carbon neutral since 2020.”

Evolugen has environmental and social committees to engage employees and encourage them to work together to improve its green performance, and a wellness program that offers on-site yoga and fitness classes. There’s even a rooftop garden where Evolugen employees grow fruits and vegetables that are harvested and donated to a nearby kindergarten.

Zhang appreciates the support the ESG program receives from Evolugen’s management. “The ESG team includes our top executives, and we have quarterly meetings to update our targets and discuss any challenges,” she says. “And we’re researching things like hydrogen and battery storage to support the whole industry’s transition, not just ours.”

According to Jonathan Lee, vice-president of human resources, it’s important to apply the same sustainability principles across the board at Evolugen, from major energy projects in other provinces to coffee machines in the office.

“These days everyone wants to know where their coffee comes from, and it’s the same with power,” he says. “People want to know: Is it green? What powers it? Where do our solar panels come from and how are they built?”

So the company engages in extensive research and discussion to come up with the greenest and most innovative solutions – for itself as well as its clients. “There’s a lot of inner reflection on everything we do,” Lee says, “whether it’s as simple as not having disposable cups or plastic in the cafeteria, or larger things like our fleet vehicles, which we’re converting to hybrid or electric where the technology exists. We figure out what else we can do and challenge ourselves.”

“We have biodiversity principles integrated into our decision-making,” adds Zhang. “We want to make sure that if we build new sites or new developments, we can avoid and mitigate risk. We work with partners on things like tree planting, we support environmental initiatives and we develop science-based solutions for climate-related issues. That’s really important, and it’s in place across the whole business. From operations to office management, it’s all aligned.”

Lee believes that approach results in a culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurialism. “At the end of the day, we’re solving problems that we don’t know exist yet, to challenges we haven’t come up with yet,” he says. “The culture is so collaborative, and we spend so much time trying to be innovative and looking at problems from different angles. It’s exciting.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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