Climate Change

Sustainability for Businesses

The Burnaby Board of Trade held an Environmental Sustainability Forum for Business yesterday evening that is worth writing about.  Hosted in the architecturally stunning Electronic Arts building, the event featured a panel of four environmentally friendly speakers with good business tips.

EarthAs the panel was introduced, it was noted that the pathway to being green is often less clear than the desire to be sustainable.  Thus, it was fitting that the first speaker was Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation that helps teach people how to be sustainable.

Peter suggested that sustainability targets should include longer term solutions that apply to the whole system, that balance production and consumption, are transparent and include accountability.  Making operations efficient and reducing energy and waste helps a business save money.  The next step is reducing their product’s footprint, by making it and its packaging greener.  Level three involves greening your network – your customers, suppliers, producers, and not least your employees.  As in the palm oil article I posted recently, examine your supply chain.  How green is it and how could it be made more sustainable?

Maureen Cureton, Green Business Manager at Vancity (see www.vancity.com/greenbusiness), spoke next.  Vancity, she started, was the first North American-based financial institution that became carbon neutral.  They accomplished this through focusing on building energy savings, paper use, employee commuting and bus travel.  Items such as 100% post consumer paper cost more, she acknowledged, but reductions in consumption helps offset costs.  Vancity’s environmental commitments generate employee and member (customer) loyalty as well as enhanced brand value which far outweighs any residual cost increase.

networking 3TJ Galda, Chair of the Electronic Arts Green Team, was next.  He opened by saying sustainability gives a business a good triple bottom line – including the business, the environment, and the corporate cultural attitude.  They’re thorough at EA (as it’s called) – the paper towels get composted.  TJ made an excellent case about the benefits a business receives when employees are happy, and increasingly employees want to go home at night and tell their children that Mom or Dad works at a planet friendly company.

David Moran, Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Coca-Cola Canada, rounded out the panel. Coca-Cola Canada is a huge company, and it takes time to change a company that size.  But they’re making a good effort.  They’re examining ways to reduce their sugar footprint, and to become carbon free.  A beverage container now contains a significant amount of sustainable material.  And managers present their efforts to their Board of Directors annually, who importantly support the green shift.

The event was wrapped up with a Q&A session, during which the speakers responded to questions with knowledge and a genuine interest in helping businesses become sustainable.

Overall, it was a great event and hopefully this article will help businesses everywhere and of any size examine their own footprint and make it sustainable.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

1 Comment

  1. February 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for blogging Alison. It’s wonderful to see Burnaby Board of Trade leadership in this area …and such a great turn-out of interested business & community members. One way or another –as employees & employers, owners & entrepreneurs, buyers & suppliers –we’re all stakeholders in business. Let’s use our influence to transform business toward sustainability.

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