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the 2012 list

Union Gas employees put down sheet mulch to establish a new community garden at head office in Chatham, Ont. Managed in partnership with Food Link Chatham-Kent Community Gardens, the 3,000-square-foot site provides plots, as well as tools, seeds and education to members of the community (including employees) interested in growing their own produce.

How they were picked

As Canada's Greenest Employers for 2012 evolve steadily toward sustainability, there are remarkable bursts of creativity along the way. Initiatives such as the YMCA of Greater Toronto attaching electrical generators to its exercise bikes or the Town of Ladysmith, B.C., changing its building code to encourage solar hot water systems demonstrate an innovative approach to becoming ever greener.

The Mediacorp editors of Canada's Top 100 Employers judged organizations on: 1) their unique initiatives and programs; 2) how successful they've been in reducing their own environmental footprint; 3) the degree employees are involved and 4) the extent that their initiatives have become linked to their public identity and whether they attract new people.

Richard Yerema, managing editor of Mediacorp Canada, notes that "once organizations venture down the portage of sustainability, it simply becomes how they operate and plan to operate in the future."

Bayer Inc., Toronto. Pharmaceutical manufacturing; 704 employees. Constructed 10,000 square feet of green roof space at head office.

BC Hydro, Vancouver. Hydroelectric power generation: 5,911 employees. Has more than 300 Green Team members who volunteer at locations across the province.

BC Public Service, Victoria. Government support; 25,042 employees. Invests in Web-conferencing technologies with more than 130 equipped sites available for employees across the province, resulting in a significant decrease in travel-related emissions.

Calgary Laboratory Services, Calgary. Medical laboratories; 989 employees. Allows employees to use their flexible spending benefits toward the purchase of environmental products and services.

Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, Burnaby, B.C. Professional organizations; 148 employees. The kitchen area sinks feature in-line filtration systems to lessen the need for disposable plastic water bottles.

Compass Group Canada, Mississauga, Ont. Food service contractors; 11,091 employees. Has become a major purchaser of Fair Trade Certified coffee.

Corus Entertainment Inc., Toronto. Television broadcasting; 1,478 employees. Every month, the company receives waste diversion reports focused on carbon dioxide emissions, water conservation as well as waste and recycling efforts.

Enbridge Inc., Calgary. Natural gas distribution; 4,224 employees. Has invested in alternative energy generation, including six wind farm projects in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, an 80 megawatt solar array in Sarnia, Ont., and a geothermal power facility in Oregon.

Enmax Corp., Calgary. Electric power distribution; 1,655 employees. Encourages employees to install alternative energy systems in their homes through an eco-rebate program.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Toronto. Hotels; 8,612 employees. Implements energy and water conservation policies at properties worldwide.

Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, Toronto. Lawyers; 1,232 employees. Participates in Pollution Probe's Clean Air Commute campaign, which encourages employees to walk, bike, telecommute or take public transit to work.

Georgian College, Barrie, Ont. Colleges and universities; 744 employees. Has implemented aggressive strategies to reduce use of paper.

Hewlett-Packard Canada Co., Mississauga, Ont. Electronic computer manufacturing; 7,100 employees. Encourages employees to leave their cars at home by staying home themselves through a long-standing commitment to telecommuting.

Home Depot Canada, Toronto. Hardware stores; 13,079 employees. Has more than 2,400 environmentally responsible product choices for its customers through its Eco Options program.

Hydro Ottawa Ltd., Ottawa. Electric power distribution; 604 employees. Has an in-house conservation team that heads out into the community to spread the conservation word.

IKEA Canada LP, Burlington, Ont. Home furnishings stores; 1,540 employees. Maintains recycling depots at Canadian store locations where customers can drop off compact fluorescent light bulbs, halogen bulbs and old batteries free of charge.

Information Services Corp., Regina. Title abstract and settlement offices; 322 employees. Each board member is equipped with a "Board Book," a smart tablet which has access to all board materials electronically, significantly reducing the amount of paper typically used.

KPMG LLP, Toronto. Offices of certified public accountants; 5,413 employees. KPMG's Global Green Initiative commits the firm to reduce its international carbon footprint by 25 per cent (compared to 2007) through energy conservation and use of renewable energy.

Ladysmith, Town of, British Columbia. Legislative bodies; 49 employees. Is currently developing a Community Energy Plan designed to reduce long-term energy consumption.

Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Brampton, Ont. Supermarkets and grocery stores; 30,472 employees. Recently installed rooftop solar panel arrays on two store locations in Ontario as part of the province's feed-in-tariff program.

LoyaltyOne Inc., Toronto. Marketing consulting services; 1,159 employees. Has formally monitored its carbon footprint since 2008.

Manitoba Hydro, Winnipeg. Hydroelectric power generation; 5,959 employees. Is greening its fleet through the purchase of 28 hybrid vehicles for employees to use for business purposes.

McGill University Health Centre, Montreal. General medical and surgical hospitals; 11,500 employees. Employees have organized departmental employee-led green teams, such as the "Nursing Green Team" to help champion waste reduction and recycling initiatives.

Mountain Equipment Co-op, Vancouver. Sporting goods stores; 629 employees. Each retail location offers secure bicycle storage and showers to encourage its employees to ride their bikes to work.

National Capital Commission, Ottawa. Urban planning and community and rural development; 495 employees. Its "Back to the Tap" program encourages the reduction of plastic water bottles used by employees and visitors.

Nature's Path Foods Inc., Richmond, B.C. Breakfast cereal manufacturing; 129 employees. Is working toward 99 per cent waste diversion from the landfill by 2014 and has already achieved diversion rates ranging from 84 to 93 per cent.

Ontario Public Service, Toronto. Government support; 65,423 employees. Maintains a unique re-use and re-deployment program for everything from furniture to computers to paper to heavy machinery to laboratory equipment.

Ottawa, City of. Legislative bodies, 11,931 employees. Implemented a "Green Building Policy for the Construction of Corporate Buildings."

Perkins+Will Canada Corp., Vancouver. Architectural services; 52 employees. Has committed itself to the "2030 Challenge," pledging that all of its projects will be designed as carbon neutral by the year 2030.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Toronto. Certified public accountants; 6,255 employees. Sponsors a national "Green Week" to promote environmental awareness both at the workplace and at home.

Provincial Health Services Authority, Vancouver. General medical and surgical hospitals; 7,181 employees. Has implemented a series of environmental initiatives in response to employee feedback.

Red River College, Winnipeg. Colleges, universities and professional schools; 1,246 employees. Operates a sophisticated biodiesel processing facility that converts used kitchen oil from its Food Services and Culinary Arts program, and blends it with diesel fuel to power the college's maintenance vehicles.

Rescan Environmental Services Ltd., Vancouver. Environmental consulting; 132 employees. Employee-led committee is working toward the goal of diverting 95 per cent of its in-house waste from the landfill.

Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto. Banking; 53,100 employees. Introduced a new "Responsible Procurement Policy" that incorporates environmental and social considerations into all purchases made by the bank.

SAS Institute (Canada) Inc., Toronto. Computer programming; 240 employees. Constructed the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified commercial office building in Canada.

SaskTel, Regina, Telecommunications carriers; 3,190 employees. Launched the "Switch Off and Save" campaign on Earth Day 2008 to encourage employees to switch off all unnecessary electronics, vehicles and gas heaters.

Siemens Canada Ltd., Burlington, Ont. Engineering, 4,770 employees. Employees recently volunteered their time to repair used company laptops and donated more than 100 refurbished units to a local charitable organization.

Sodexo Canada Ltd., Burlington, Ont. Food service contractors; 10,091 employees. Has committed to sourcing local, seasonal or sustainably grown and raised food products for its food service operations.

Stantec Consulting Ltd., Edmonton. Engineering; 5,371 employees. Purchases paper with post-consumer recycled content for copier paper and printed materials.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Hospitals; 4,922 employees. Has partnered with the "Smart Commute" program creating an online carpool service to make it easier for employees to find a workable carpool.

Symcor Inc., Mississauga, Ont. Financial processing; 2,589 employees. Encourages employee carpooling by providing reserved parking spaces for those who carpool and an intranet portal to help employees find a carpool group.

Toronto-Dominion Bank, Toronto. Banking; 41,360 employees. Was the first Canadian bank to hire a Chief Environment Officer.

Telus Corp., Vancouver. Wired telecommunications carriers; 23,400 employees. Aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent and total energy consumption by 10 per cent by the year 2020.

Toronto Hydro Corp., Toronto. Electric power distribution; 1,729 employees. Maintains one of the city's first solar panel arrays at its head office, which features more than 189 panels.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc., Cambridge, Ont., Automobile manufacturing; 6,937 employees. Strongly supports Earth Day every year, which is a month-long event at the company.

Union Gas Ltd., Chatham-Kent, Ont. Natural gas distribution; 2,155 employees. By simply introducing two-sided printing as a default across its operations, the company has reduced its paper usage by more than 14 per cent from 2009 to 2010.

University of Alberta, Edmonton. Colleges, universities and professional schools; 8,340 employees. Recently launched the "ecoREP" program to reach out to employees, faculty and students to become sustainability champions.

University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Colleges, universities and professional schools; 10,612 employees. Encourages students to reduce waste and conserve water and energy through its "Sustainability in Rez" program.

University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George. Colleges, universities and professional schools; 594 employees. Recently opened a Green University Centre staffed by two full-time employees who work on green initiatives on campus.

University of Toronto. Colleges and universities; 8,458 employees. Operates a unique "Swap Shop" at its St. George campus where members of the university community can drop off and pick up items such as furniture and office equipment.

Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity), Vancouver. Credit unions; 1,778 employees. Strongly supports annual "Bike to Work Week" with employees competing against other workplaces for the most bike commutes, hours logged and kilometres travelled.

Vancouver, City of. Legislative bodies; 6,858 employees. Recently launched a "Green Condo Retrofit Pilot" project that provides low interest and long-term loans to condo associations for major energy saving renovations.

Veridian Corp., Ajax, Ont. Electric power distribution; 215 employees. Provides employees with interest-free loans for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances for their homes.

Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler, B.C. Hotels and motels; 2,747 employees. Operates a new $32-million micro-hydroelectric plant inside the ski area that produces enough clean electricity for its entire operations.

YMCA of Greater Toronto, Toronto. Individual and family services; 1,286 employees. Maintains a green fund that is dedicated to funding environmentally beneficial initiatives.