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CLIMATE SMART | From roof contractors to coffee shops, sustainability boosts the bottom line ELIZABETH SHEEHAN AND MICHELLE BONNER

Cutting carbon emissions also means cutting costs and becoming more competitive


s a climate leadership plan for B.C. is taking shape, and as the world looks ahead to the international climate talks in Paris in December, one might ask: what is the role of small and medium-sized businesses? Ninety-eight per cent of B.C. businesses are small to mediumsized enterprises (SMEs). In the Lower Mainland, SMEs generate an estimated 30 per cent to 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions through the energy used to heat a nd power thei r bu i ld i ngs a nd operations, the fuel consumed by their vehicles and equipment, and the waste generated while making products and delivering services, among other activities. If we are to make a transition to a prosperous, low-carbon economy, these SMEs will be crucial partners. Fortunately, there is already a strong and growing group of SME leaders innovating on this front and, along the way, demonstrating that cutting carbon emissions also means cutting costs and becoming more competitive. ■Continental Roofing developed a custom mobile app that service crews can use to send reports and photos to the office rather than making a trip to deliver paperwork at the beginning of each day. As a result, the company has reduced fuel costs by 15 per cent across a f leet of 30 trucks, and cut carbon emissions by 35 per cent per employee. ■Recycling Alternative recognized that eliminating organic waste from the region’s landfills means more frequent pickups to properly manage odour and avoid attracting pests. The recycling company now offers on-site composting

machines to reduce truck trips and associated fuel costs and carbon emissions. Business has already increased by seven per cent. ■The PNE (Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver) adopted new ice-making technology by REALice that uses dramatically less natural gas. This has reduced related carbon emissions by 18 tonnes and saved $6,000 in operating costs. ■D i g ite ch R enewable P r i nter Cartridges invested in a fleet of hybrid vehicles and began providing employees with transit passes to reduce fuel consumption by 15 per cent and cut emissions from staff commuting by 45 per cent. In addition, Digitech credits the company’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, and its ability to help others do the same, with gaining at least 10 new clients. ■Ethical Bean installed a Loring “smart roaster” that is expected to reduce natural gas used to roast coffee beans – the company’s largest source of carbon emissions – by up to 80 per cent. ■Mills Office Productivity stopped making deliveries to clients in downtown Vancouver by truck and switched to working with Shift Delivery, a cargo bike service. This helped reduce operational carbon emissions by three per cent and save $65,000 annually (the cost of owning and operating one delivery truck, which the company was able to eliminate). ■505-Junk replaced inefficient trucks and invested in route optimization to cut carbon emissions by 50 per cent per kilometre driven and at the same time increase the recycling company’s margins by more than 15 per cent. We’ll need more of this kind of innovation for B.C. businesses to stay competitive: to reduce

current expenses, protect against future increases in energy, fuel and waste costs, and to win new business. These companies are all Climate Smart certified, among hundreds of SMEs in the Lower Ma i n la nd a nd beyond that a re finding smarter, less carbon-intensive ways of delivering their products and services. Climate Smart (www.climatesmartbusiness. com) is a Vancouver-based social enterprise that provides training, software, support and certification for SMEs to measure and profitably reduce their carbon emissions. At Climate Smart, we think it is possible to leverage more innovation like this more quickly with a few new policy tools, such as a green business investment credit, that would incentivize the private sector to invest in training, technology, retrofitting and improved pro cesses t h at reduce c a rbon emissions. É

Elizabeth Sheehan is founder and president of Climate Smart Businesses Inc. Michelle Bonner is Climate Smart’s vice-president and training manager. Readers can view the stories of the Climate Smart certified businesses mentioned above, plus others, by searching Climate Smart Businesses on YouTube

Profile for Business in Vancouver Media Group

Green Space 2015  

Green Space 2015