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As the earth takes a collective breath, what can Canada’s Greenest Employers 2020 teach us about doing business with a fresh environmental consciousness?

From choosing renewable energy to waste audits to LED lighting systems, companies featured on this year’s list are accustomed to running successful businesses while minimizing their ecological footprints. For instance, Hatch's head office in Mississauga features automated building sensor technology to reduce air conditioning and lighting usage in the summer. Or YMCA of Greater Toronto, which reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by over 40 per cent from its 2008 baseline year by installing solar panels and lighting retrofits to save energy. Each initiative makes a difference.

When it comes to transportation, carpooling programs, subsidies for public transit and encouraging two-wheeled commuting are standard practice. Along with alternative working options, Perkins+Will Canada in Vancouver offers lockers and secure indoor bicycle parking while Red River College in Winnipeg features a bike loan program as well as repair stations for cyclists.

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But care for the planet extends beyond the office. In response to worldwide drops in honey bee populations, The Printing House worked with Toronto Bee Rescue to install eight rooftop hives at its head office and Manitoba Hydro installed an urban bee apiary on the green roof of its LEED Platinum-Certified building. The utility’s rooftop also features an indigenous medicinal garden with sweetgrass, sage and other medicinal herbs.

Now is the time to take a look at these outstanding environmental leaders and their exceptional earth-friendly ideas.

Methodology

Canada’s Greenest Employers is an editorial competition that recognizes employers that lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness. Applicants for the award are compared to other employers in their industry.

Winning employers, selected by editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, are evaluated using four main criteria: (1) unique environmental initiatives or programs they have developed; (2) whether they have been successful in reducing their own environmental footprint; (3) whether their employees are involved in these programs and contribute unique skills; and (4) whether their environmental initiatives have become linked to the employer’s public identity, attracting new employees or customers.

Any employer operating in Canada may apply for the Canada’s Greenest Employers competition. Employers of any size may apply, whether private or public sector.

Canada’s greenest employers 2020

Accenture Inc., Toronto. Professional services; 5,122 employees. Announced new carbon reduction targets of 11 per cent by 2025 over a 2016 baseline year.

Adobe Systems Canada Inc., Ottawa. Software publishers; 321 employees. Works with local organizations to get employees involved in supporting volunteer clean-up initiatives.

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AET Group Inc., Kitchener. Ont. Environmental consulting; 27 employees. Manages an in-house sustainable transportation program featuring an online tracker of commuting habits.

Aramark Canada Ltd., Toronto. Food service contractors; 14,719 employees. Maintains initiatives addressing sustainability in all aspects of its operations, from encouraging consumers to make sustainable choices to partnerships with community organizations.

Assiniboine Credit Union Ltd., Winnipeg. Credit union; 385 employees. Continues to reduce waste and enhance recycling, including employee-led organic composting programs, electronic waste recycling and recycling of all writing instruments.

BC Housing Management Commission, Burnaby, B.C. Housing programs; 808 employees. Ensures employees lead by example and partners with organizations such as the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation to offer training programs.

BC Hydro, Vancouver. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,777 employees. Helps customer organizations develop their energy management strategies by co-funding the costs of hiring a professional energy manager.

BC Public Service, Victoria. Provincial government; 30,283 employees. Celebrates Earth Week through employee awareness initiatives, including waste reduction, energy saving and ending plastic pollution.

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Bell Canada, Verdun, Que. Communications; 38,606 employees. Manages a consumer-facing e-waste collection program covering everything that goes out, including mobile phones, television receivers and modems.

BlackBerry Ltd., Waterloo, Ont. Secure software and services; 2,034 employees. Hosts annual waste audits at all of its major sites, achieving a waste diversion rate of 88 per cent, with goals to push beyond 90 per cent.

BluEarth Renewables Inc., Calgary. Renewable power generation; 108 employees. Conducts a monthly sustainability survey to track and encourage alternative commuting habits.

Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd., Toronto. Real estate management; 1,324 employees. Developed the Energy Smart Operations energy management tool that tracks building performance and identifies areas for energy savings.

Canon Canada Inc., Brampton, Ont. Imaging equipment and information services; 1,051 employees. Celebrated Earth Week by hosting its third annual Environmental Education Day.

Capital Regional District, The / CRD, Victoria. Municipal government; 546 employees. Offers a dedicated school support program which includes programming and resources for educators and students in the region.

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Co-operators Group Limited, The, Guelph, Ont. Insurance; 5,818 employees. Encourages customers to make greener choices with insurance discounts for LEED construction as well as for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Cowbell Brewing Co., Blyth, Ont. Breweries; 89 employees. Worked with Maitland Valley Conservation Authority to plant over 12,000 native trees and pollinator plants on over 9.3 hectares of its land.

Credit Valley Conservation Authority / CVC, Mississauga. Environment, conservation and wildlife organizations; 226 employees. Features a LEED Gold certified head office with LED motion-controlled lighting, in-floor radiant heating and “smart blue roof” technology to help manage storm water systems.

Dentons Canada LLP, Vancouver. Law firm; 1,173 employees. Encourages employees to refrain from using disposable coffee cups or take-out containers as part of its annual month-long Healthy Habits Challenge.

Desjardins Group / Mouvement Desjardins, Lévis. Que. Credit union; 40,137 employees. Has longstanding programs to encourage members to move from paper to e-statements.

DIALOG, Toronto. Architecture: 677 employees. Awarded the “Living Building Challenge Certification” for the Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre.

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Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc., Toronto. Architecture; 286 employees. Helps champion the movement towards greener building with over 40 completed LEED projects with an additional 17 LEED registered projects on the go.

Diva International Inc., Kitchener, Ont. Personal hygiene products; 34 employees. Offsets natural gas and electricity consumption through the Bullfrog Power program.

Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology, Oshawa, Ont. College; 839 employees. Aims to create a net-zero carbon footprint in all campus buildings by harvesting clean, sustainable geothermal power from the ground below.

EfficiencyOne, Dartmouth, N.S. Energy conservation advocacy; 116 employees. Encourages employees to leave the car at home through discounted transit passes, an active carpooling program and support for cyclists.

Emterra Group, Burlington, Ont. Recycling and waste management; 1,036 employees. Partners with local organizations to heighten awareness and increase access to resources for waste reduction.

ENMAX Corp., Calgary. Electric power distribution; 1,677 employees. Introduced numerous energy-saving initiatives at city-owned facilities, including energy audits, LED lighting installations at city-owned rinks and sub-metering installations.

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Exhibition Place, Toronto. Amusement and mixed-use properties; 176 employees. Operates four separate rooftop solar arrays that produce over 730,000 kWh of electricity annually, enough to power 68 households for over one year.

Export Development Canada, Ottawa. International trade financing and support; 1,699 employees. Issues Green Bonds to help support environmental companies or projects that preserve, protect or remediate air, water or soil, or help mitigate climate change.

Farm Mutual Re, Cambridge, Ont. Insurance; 82 employees. Keeps its parking lot clear in the winter by using a calcium alternative to replace salt for melting ice and reduce harmful salt run-off.

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd., Oakville, Ont. Automobile manufacturing; 7,641 employees. Has reduced waste per vehicle sent to landfill by 61 per cent, over a baseline year of 2013.

Hatch Ltd., Mississauga. Engineering; 3,165 employees. Ensures that environmental and sustainable design considerations are factored into all of its projects.

Hemmera, an Ausenco Co., Burnaby, B.C. Environmental consulting; 230 employees. Introduces new hires immediately to the organization’s green focus through the environmental committee’s orientation program.

Home Depot of Canada Inc., Toronto. Retail; 14,472 employees. Has 49 stores with rooftop solar panel arrays with three store locations being LEED certified.

HP Canada Co., Mississauga. Computer technology and services; 503 employees. Is a member of Canada’s National Zero Waste Council, a national initiative that brings together governments, businesses and non-governmental agencies.

Humber College, Toronto. College; 1,657 employees. Showcases numerous green features at campus buildings including a four-storey bio-wall that helps filter internal air, a green roof and rainwater collection.

Hydro Ottawa, Gloucester, Ont. Electric power distribution; 686 employees. Encourages customers to move to electronic billing and payments methods through its Go Paperless campaign.

IKEA Canada Ltd. Partnership, Burlington, Ont. Retail; 3,239 employees. Manages a unique Sell-Back program, letting customers return gently used IKEA products for store credit, with the company reselling or donating the products.

Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc., Montreal. Real estate investment and management; 1,083 employees. Set LEED Gold certification as a minimum standard for all new office building constructions.

Keilhauer Ltd., Scarborough, Ont. Furniture manufacturing; 252 employees. Designs all of the company’s products to be repairable and offers a 10-year warranty policy.

KPMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 7,648 employees. Provides dedicated professional sustainability services to help clients understand, manage and improve their own environmental and social impacts.

Labatt Brewing Co. Ltd., Toronto. Breweries; 3,500 employees. Spearheaded numerous initiatives at facilities across Canada helping to reduce water use by 50 per cent since 2006.

Loblaw Companies Ltd., Brampton, Ont. Supermarkets and grocery stores; 27,488 employees. Is one of the first major retail organizations to introduce electric vehicles to its trucking fleet.

LoyaltyOne, Co., Toronto. Marketing consulting; 1,127 employees. Utilizes 100 per cent green electricity from Bullfrog Power for its Toronto, Montreal and Calgary locations.

Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,037 employees. Supports a Green Commuting Options Committee which manages carpooling programs and a Cycle Buddies program pairing seasoned bicycle commuters to those wishing to learn.

Matrix Solutions Inc., Calgary. Environmental consulting; 484 employees. Partners with local recycling company, Bluplanet Recycling, to ensure that most of its waste is collected, sorted and diverted from landfill.

McGill University, Montreal. University; 6,404 employees. Encourages sustainable transportation choices through numerous on campus initiatives, including a fleet of bicycles and free shuttle service.

MD Financial Management, Ottawa. Financial services; 1,471 employees. Replaced take-out coffee cups and food containers, plastic utensils, straws and disposable condiment plastic containers with compostable and reusable options at its offices.

Metrolinx, Toronto. Public transit; 3,793 employees. Performed waste audits at 24 stations and bus facilities to better understand and find areas of improvement.

Mohawk College, Hamilton. College; 1,018 employees. Boasts numerous features across campus, from community gardens, honeybee apiaries and pollinator gardens, to water bottle filling stations.

Mott MacDonald, Vancouver. Engineering; 117 employees. Developed a sophisticated in-house Carbon Portal assessment tool, designed to measure and reduce carbon and costs for the firm’s projects.

Mountain Equipment Co-op, Vancouver. Retail; 964 employees. Has taken a leadership role in addressing unnecessary use of plastic across its operations.

Nature’s Path Foods, Inc., Richmond, B.C. Food manufacturing; 189 employees. Partners with numerous organic farms, helping to ensure that over 48,000 hectares of farmland remain under organic stewardship.

Nightingale Corp., Mississauga. Furniture manufacturing; 113 employees. Works closely with its suppliers to incorporate environmental considerations into its supply chain.

Ocean Wise Conservation Association, Vancouver. Aquatic conservation advocacy; 278 employees. Founded the Ocean Wise Seafood program, which works with more than 700 partners in Canada to recommend ocean-friendly seafood choices.

Perkins+Will Canada Architects Co., Vancouver. Architecture; 205 employees. Is a signatory to the 2030 Challenge, to challenge industry professionals to make all projects carbon neutral by 2030.

Printing House Ltd., The / TPH, Toronto. Printing; 549 employees. Donates paper cut-offs and envelopes to charities, day care centres, summer camps and schools as well as paper waste to recyclers and recycled paper makers.

Red River College, Winnipeg. College; 1,427 employees. Encourages two-wheeled commuting with indoor and secure bicycle parking lockers, a bike loan program as well as “air and repair” stations.

Reliable Controls Corp., Victoria. Technology manufacturing; 162 employees. Features a storm water management system and unique daylight harvesting controls at its LEED Platinum certified head office.

Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto. Banking; 56,575 employees. Has a formal environmental focus dating back over three decades, appointing its first Environmental Risk Manager in 1991.

SAP Canada Inc., Vancouver. Custom computer programming services; 3,342 employees. Encourages employees to get their hands dirty at monthly dumpster dives, held as part of an ongoing waste audit program.

SaskTel, Regina. Telecommunications; 2,839 employees. Offers employees a dedicated environmental category in their flexible health and wellness spending accounts, for green alternatives such as transit passes.

Schneider Electric Canada Inc., Mississauga. Industrial automation and controls; 2,067 employees. Set goals of sourcing 80 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and 100 per cent by 2030.

Sheridan Nurseries Ltd., Georgetown, Ont. Nursery and garden centre; 227 employees. Developed and manages a massive water recapture pond to collect rainwater and water run-off from its operations, reducing its local water draw by 24 per cent.

Sodexo Canada Ltd., Burlington, Ont. Food service contractors; 6,192 employees. Participates in a North America-wide plastics reduction policy to eliminate plastic straws, stir sticks, plastic bags, take-out containers, polystyrene containers from its operations.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Hospital; 6,941 employees. Has a well-developed Environmental Sustainability Policy encompassing energy and water conservation, waste management, transportation, procurement, and awareness and education.

Surrey, City of, Surrey, B.C. Municipal government; 2,080 employees. Implemented its city-wide updated waste collection system in 2012, with residents separating waste, recyclables and organics.

Surrey School District No. 36, Surrey, B.C. Schools; 9,585 employees. Teaches students to live sustainably, partnering with the City of Surrey to integrate energy, water and waste management concepts into grade school curriculums.

Sylvis Environmental Services Inc., New Westminster, B.C. Environmental consulting; 22 employees. Features communal garbage, recycling and composting bins at head office, (having eliminated individual garbage cans).

Symcor Inc., Mississauga. Data processing and support services; 1,467 employees. Supports a variety of in-house environmental initiatives including an extensive recycling program to capture non-conventional recyclables, from candy wrappers to wine corks.

TD Bank Group, Toronto. Banking; 52,060 employees. Has provided over $90-million to more than 26,000 local environmental projects since 1990 through its TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

The Beer Store and Brewers Distributor Ltd., Mississauga. Beer, wine, and liquor stores; 2,667 employees. Has operated the longstanding beer bottle deposit program since 1927, where each bottle is re-used an average of 15 times.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc./ TMMC, Cambridge, Ont. Automobile manufacturing; 9,722 employees. Supports numerous environmental initiatives in its surrounding communities, including the Woodstock Wetland Trail Walk.

TransLink (South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority), New Westminster, B.C. Public transit; 7,200 employees. Has numerous initiatives including testing battery-powered electric buses and fast charging stations and adding diesel-electric hybrid and natural gas buses to its fleet.

UBC / University of British Columbia, Vancouver. University; 12,436 employees. Updated its Climate Action Plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 67 per cent by 2020 and 100 per cent by 2050, over a 2007 baseline.

University of Alberta, Edmonton. University; 8,937 employees. Maintains a one-acre Prairie Urban Farm to demonstrate urban gardening possibilities as well as a two-acre pesticide and fertilizer-free community garden.

University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, B.C. University; 580 employees. Established a Campus Food Strategy Group to help design and develop its sustainable food policy.

University of Toronto, Toronto. University; 10,116 employees. Was one of the earliest campuses to ban disposable plastic water bottles in 2011, leading to the installation of water filling stations across its campuses.

University of Victoria, Victoria. University; 3,072 employees. Mobilizes employees and students to increase sustainability through the Campus Sustainability Fund, which provides financial support for employee, student and faculty-inspired sustainability projects.

Vancouver, City of, Vancouver. Municipal government; 7,610 employees. Adopted LEED Gold certification standard for all new construction of 500 square metres as well as introducing higher energy performance bylaws for new home construction.

Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler, B.C. Skiing and resort operations; 3,332 employees. Supports the longstanding Habitat Improvement Team that brings employees and residents together to address local environmental issues.

Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo. University; 1,642 employees. Offers a Certificate in Sustainability for faculty and employees who participate in the university’s lunch and learn workshop series.

Xerox Canada Ltd., Toronto, Ont. Computer technology and services; 2,376 employees. Designed its technology to help customers measure and reduce the impact of their own print operations through the use of solid ink technology.

YMCA of Greater Toronto, Toronto. Individual and family services; 2,868 employees. Maintains a 1.6-hectare property at its Cedar Glen location, including a certified organic garden, two honeybee apiaries, facilities to produce maple syrup, and a greenhouse.

York, Regional Municipality of, Newmarket, Ont. Municipal government; 3,743 employees. Supports a cross-section of employee ambassadors from multiple departments who lead environmental awareness initiatives throughout the year.

York University, Toronto, Ont. University; 4,660 employees. Produces its own brand of FairTrade Las Nubes coffee as part of its sustainable food sourcing initiatives.

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