How do I green? Let me count the ways.
The winners of Canada's Greenest Employers for 2015 show amazing diversity in how they make their businesses green. As environmental leaders, they've put their strategy into action through multiple initiatives, both formal and informal, both corporate and employee-led. For many organizations, building sustainability isn't a trendy thing to do, but has evolved to become a part of how they operate, notes Richard Yerema, managing editor of Mediacorp Canada. These are employers who are committed for the longer term, simply becoming the way they're going to operate in the 21st century.
The variety of their Earth-friendly ideas is inspiring. Programs include aggressive waste diversion, effectively demonstrated by athletic apparel manufacturer Arc'teryx Equipment Inc., which recycles more than 90 per cent of its waste, including donating leftover fabric rolls to local design classes. There are energy-saving initiatives such as the solar-powered signage at LoyaltyOne Inc.'s LEED Gold certified call centre in Mississauga. Carbon-reduction ideas can be as practical as car-pool websites, virtual meetings, bike buddies to encourage riding or installing electric car charging stations for public use, as the Town of Ladysmith, B.C., recently did. Many extend their influence into the community as well, such as Aramark Canada Ltd.'s national farm tour field research initiative, which arranges for chefs to visit local farms and producer partners to learn more about local food procurement.
While the focus of individual employers may differ somewhat, depending on their industry, all have been inspired to create a culture of environmental awareness, making their workplace – and the planet – a little better. In the end, it's good for their bottom line as well as their ability to attract and retain top talent.
Accenture Inc., Toronto. Business consulting; 3,623 employees. Reduced unnecessary business travel through Web conferencing and other offsite collaboration technologies.
Amec Foster Wheeler NCL Ltd., Oakville, Ont. Engineering; 4,902 employees. Has over 50 LEED accredited professionals who have worked on many major LEED projects for private and public-sector clients across Canada.
Aramark Canada Ltd., Toronto. Food services; 9,225 employees. Created the supporting position of national sustainability manager to oversee supply chain operations, including the origin of ingredients, location of processing and their environmental and social impacts.
Arc'teryx Equipment Inc., North Vancouver, B.C. Athletic apparel manufacturing; 587 employees. Organizes employee involvement in community initiatives through the employee-led green committee, including the annual spring and fall Bike to Work Week and Commuter Challenge.
Assiniboine Credit Union Ltd., Winnipeg. Credit unions; 423 employees. Has incorporated geothermal heating systems into all branches constructed since 2006.
Bank of Montreal, Toronto. Banking; 27,285 employees. Developed its first environmental policy back in 1991 (updated in 2008) to address and minimize the environmental impact of its operations.
Bayer Canada, Toronto. Pharmaceutical manufacturing; 1,348 employees. Established an annual scorecard to establish and measure progress on sustainable projects across the company.
BC Housing Management Commission, Burnaby, B.C. Housing programs; 653 employees. Delivers green building seminars to individuals in the building industry, from tradespeople to architects and engineers, through its Homeowner Protection Office.
BC Hydro, Vancouver. Electric utility; 4,986 employees. Established a bike buddy network that helps employees connect with other employees who regularly bike to work.
BC Public Service, Victoria. Provincial government; 24,901 employees. Offers an anti-idling toolkit and online carbon neutral driver training courses for travelling employees.
Connect First Credit Union, Calgary. Credit unions; 397 employees. Conducted a carbon footprint audit in 2008 to set a baseline year for future carbon use comparisons and reduced its overall carbon emissions by 15.8 per cent since the 2011 year.
Desjardins Group/Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, Montreal. Credit unions; 37,994 employees. Signed the international carbon disclosure project as part of its goal to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions.
Efficiency Nova Scotia Corp., Dartmouth, N.S. Environment and conservation organizations; 89 employees. Offers rebates to residents when they purchase Energy Star products or most efficient in that field.
Enmax Corp., Calgary. Electricity distribution; 1,835 employees. Assists customers in making green energy choices, including the installation of solar panels and wind turbines, through its Generate Choice program.
Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co., Mississauga. Computer and equipment manufacturing; 5,532 employees. Recycles its original inkjet and laser cartridges, as well as all brands of computer hardware and rechargeable batteries, through its HP Planet Partners program.
Home Depot of Canada Inc., Toronto. Retail; 12,345 employees. Has a long-standing partnership with Habitat for Humanity, donating returned products that cannot be resold to the organization's ReStore outlets.
Hydro Ottawa Ltd., Ottawa. Electricity distribution; 666 employees. Reaches out to the next generation through the Bright Ideas safety and conservation contest that extends to Ottawa-area elementary schools.
IKEA Canada Ltd. Partnership, Burlington, Ont. Retail; 1,634 employees. Installed a total of 3,790 solar panels atop three of its Toronto-area stores as part of the Province of Ontario's Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program.
Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC), North Vancouver. Insurance; 4,652 employees. Operates an extensive recycling program that includes styrofoam, toner cartridges, fluorescent bulbs and an office and home battery recycling program.
Keilhauer Ltd., Toronto. Furniture manufacturing; 209 employees. Hired a sustainability manager in 2011 to oversee the company's environmental sustainability initiatives as well as its corporate responsibility functions.
KPMG LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 6,020 employees. Implemented a formal paper reduction strategy in 2007 which has reduced overall paper consumption by 45 per cent since 2009.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, B.C. Schools; 1,095 employees. Committed to ensuring that all new building construction meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Labatt Breweries of Canada, Toronto. Breweries; 3,000 employees. Reduced its water consumption by 18 per cent since 2009, electricity use by 27 per cent over the past five years and its total operating waste by 66 per cent since 2005.
Ladysmith, Town of, Ladysmith, B.C. Municipal government; 51 employees. Assisted in the creation of the "10 per cent shift" campaign which encourages households to shift 10 per cent of their spending toward local goods and services and locally owned businesses.
LoyaltyOne Inc., Toronto. Customer relationship marketing; 1,332 employees. Operates a 50,000 square foot LEED Gold certified customer call centre in Mississauga featuring one of the largest rooftop solar photovoltaic installations in Canada.
Lush Handmade Cosmetics Ltd., Vancouver. Cosmetic manufacturing; 810 employees. Opened its first "green concept shop" retail location featuring LED lighting, reclaimed wood flooring and display furniture, recycled glass for fixtures and tiling, and no VOC paint finishes.
Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg. Electric utility; 6,133 employees. Supports community-based environmental education, sustainability awareness programs and forestry projects across the province.
Mohawk College, Hamilton. Schools; 924 employees. Manages an on-campus co-operative community based garden program with garden plots available for individuals, student groups and departments.
Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Toronto. Environment and conservation organizations; 210 employees. Exists to preserve ecologically significant areas through outright purchase, donations and conservation agreements.
Nature's Path Foods Inc., Richmond, B.C. Food manufacturing; 163 employees. Holds mandatory sustainability training for all new employees where employees are asked to develop a list of sustainability initiatives that can be undertaken.
Oakville, the Town of, Oakville, Ont. Municipal government; 1,069 employees. Oversees a formal environmental management team that is responsible for the implementation of the town's corporate Environmental Strategic Plan.
Ontario Public Service (OPS), Toronto. Provincial government; 61,672 employees. Updated its auto fleet procurement policies with more than 1,200 hybrids on the road now and 38 all-electric vehicles.
Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan , Waterloo, Ont. Insurance; 285 employees. Launched an organic recycling program in 2012, diverting more than 3,500 kilograms of organics from the landfill in its first year.
Perkins+Will Canada Architects Co., Vancouver. Architecture; 161 employees. Provides health and transit subsidies (to $900 a year) along with secure bike storage with shower facilities to encourage alternative transportation.
PowerStream Inc., Vaughan, Ont. Electricity distribution; 560 employees. Organized a local food market in recognition that 30 per cent of the food served at head office is from Ontario farmers.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Toronto. Accounting; 6,431 employees. Follows sustainable meeting guidelines outlining environmental actions to consider when planning events, conferences, and training sessions.
Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), Vancouver. Hospitals; 9,723 employees. Developed energy guidelines for future building renovations and new constructions.
Red River College, Winnipeg. Schools; 1,320 employees. Switched to an innovative 80 per cent "tree-free" paper product that is made from wheat byproduct waste from Prairie farms.
Rogers Communications Inc., Toronto. Telecommunications, cable and programming; 24,721 employees. Introduced the country's first all-you-can-read digital magazine subscription service, Next Issue Canada.
Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto. Banking; 51,423 employees. Incorporates environmental and social considerations into all purchases as part of its supplier procurement policy.
SaskTel, Regina. Telecommunications; 3,196 employees. Donates usable computer equipment to the Computers for Schools initiative, which provides thousands of refurbished computers every year to schools and non-profit organizations across the province.
Siemens Canada Ltd., Oakville, Ont. Engineering; 4,582 employees. Encourages head office and other qualifying employees to work from home for up to two days each week to reduce their carbon emissions.
Stikeman Elliott LLP, Montreal. Lawyers; 1,109 employees. Completed a major lighting retrofit of over 3,100 light fixtures including the replacement of light bulbs with energy efficient versions.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Hospitals; 5,270 employees. Plays host to an annual Earth Matters Showcase every spring to highlight its energy conservation and environmental initiatives for employees, physicians, volunteers and students.
Symcor Inc., Mississauga. Data processing; 2,475 employees. Created The Nook in common areas at a number of locations where employees can drop-off used books, movies and music to share and recycle.
Telus Corp., Vancouver. Telecommunications; 24,532 employees. Recycled more than 580,000 handsets last year through in-house initiatives and the industry-led Recycle My Cell program, exceeding its goal to recycle 400,000 used devices.
Toronto-Dominion Bank, Toronto. Banking; 44,068 employees. Manages the Green Nation program, a Web-based tool that encourages employees to commit to undertake environmental actions at home, work and in their communities.
Toyota Canada Inc., Toronto. Automobile wholesale; 565 employees. Achieved waste reduction and diversion rates to 93 per cent through extensive recycling programs, from consumer products to recycling initiatives for everything from unwanted seat fabrics to automotive mirrors.
University of Alberta, Edmonton. Schools; 8,476 employees. Introduced the Eco Move Out program for departing students to reduce waste by donating or recycling their electronics, non-perishable food items, personal care products, clothing and household items.
University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Schools; 11,294 employees. Maintains a sustainability co-ordinator program involving more than 80 employees and faculty who receive resources to promote and implement sustainable initiatives in their departments.
University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, B.C. Schools; 532 employees. Operates a unique biomass gasification facility that uses wood residue from a local sawmill to produce clean, renewable energy, heating the main buildings of its Prince George campus and reducing demand for fossil fuel heating by 70 per cent.
University of Toronto, Toronto. Schools; 9,019 employees. Operates the not-for-profit Bikechain shop that acts as a hub for the university's large cycling community, offering affordable repairs and educational opportunities for students, faculty and staff.
Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Vancouver. Credit unions; 2,025 employees. Offers customers a number of green financial products, including financing rewards for green home renovations and a special "enviro VISA" with donations of at least 5 per cent of profit to local environmental projects.
Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), Victoria. Hospitals; 8,274 employees. Installed four solar thermal installations for preheating water and made a number of mechanical and technological upgrades to existing facilities to reduce energy use.
Vancouver, City of, Vancouver. Municipal government; 6,947 employees. Continues to green its fleet through downsizing initiatives and moves to more fuel efficient trucks as well as electric and hybrid cars – even electric Zamboni machines.
Veridian Corp., Ajax, Ont. Electricity distribution; 227 employees. Encourages alternative transportation with free bike sharing, secure bike parking and shower facilities, online Smart Commute carpool and transit subsidies.
Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler, B.C. Resort facilities; 2,948 employees. Supports a habitat improvement team that includes community members and employees working to protect, restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the Whistler area.
Xerox Canada Inc., Toronto. Computer and equipment manufacturing; 3,133 employees. Developed a group dedicated to blogging and sharing green tips, stories and resources.
YMCA of Greater Toronto, Toronto. Individual and family services, 1,326 employees. Features Toronto's largest public green roof at its downtown facility, with a running track, walkway, native plant species and space for outdoor yoga and exercise.
York University, Toronto. Schools; 4,548 employees. Installed 65 cold water bottle refilling stations in support of a policy to phase-out the sale of bottled water on campus.
Now entering its ninth year, the Canada's Greenest Employers competition is organized by the editors of the Canada's Top 100 Employers project. It continues to be one of the most poplar special interest categories.
The Mediacorp editors of Canada's Top 100 Employers judged organizations on:
* Their unique environmental initiatives and programs.
* How successful they've been in reducing their own environmental footprint.
* The degree to which employees are involved and whether they contribute any unique skills.
*The extent that their initiatives have become linked to the employer's public identity and whether they attract new people to the organization.
Employers apply for Canada's Greenest Employers through the Canada's Top 100 Employers application process. Any employer operating in Canada may enter the competition, regardless of size and whether the organization is private or public sector.