Page 1

MAY 2012

sustainability A clover idea Work promotions Denise Taschereau helps companies align marketing strategies with green values

Salon owner Jennifer Wanderleij attracts customers interested in a shop with a minimal carbon footprint

Culturally significant Success for Michael Driedger comes from a philosophy of good design and social responsibility

Get with the program Environmental projects and earth-friendly policies net awards for Michael Kennedy and Stantec

PRINTING PARTNER

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 1

SPONSOR

5/10/12 3:25:58 PM


BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 2

5/10/12 3:25:58 PM


MAY 2012

sustainability Steps to success Closed-loop systems, employee buy-in, sustainable purchasing and environmentally preferred attributes are all great buzz words that float around the world of sustainability. They lend themselves to a grand vision of greening a world desperately trying to counteract the effects of millenia of indifference. But how do these play into the dayto-day behaviour of businesses, owners and employees? In this second of Business in Vancouver’s Business Excellence series for 2012, we look at 12 businesses and organizations that have achieved higher levels of sustainability for themselves or for other companies, often winning awards in the process. What are the small steps they have taken to achieve success in reducing their carbon footprint? What creative solutions have they used to help other companies? What steps can you take today to green your business and also improve your bottom line? Along with our published Excellence Series, BIV presents a breakfast series with panels of experts in each area of business. Join us for our Sustainability Breakfast panel with Nina Winham, principal of New Climate Strategies; Denise Taschereau, founder of Fairware; and Michael Driedger, sustainability building adviser, Perkins+Will; 7-9 a.m., Marriott Vancouver Pinnacle, 1128 West Hastings. Visit www.biv.com/ events/biv for tickets and more information. – Baila Lazarus, features and magazines editor, Business in Vancouver

CONTENTS 4

Closing the loop How composting has become a sustainable solution for local business

6

Recycling consumer appeal Two Vancouver companies use sustainable practices to attract clients

10 Taking the green lead Stantec plays a role in standards evolution

12 Shifting attitudes Companies help each other change behaviour and their footprints

16 Luxury meets sustainability B.C. hotels set new green standards to bridge deluxe service and ethics

20 MEC at the White House Why the popular Canadian outdoor store is being recognized for its contribution to the health of communities

22 Waste not Metro Vancouver’s waste-reduction program could be a new gold rush

leadership MAR 2012 sustainability JUN 2012 marketing SEP 2012 philanthropy DEC 2012 Business in Vancouver 102 East Fourth Avenue Vancouver, BC V5T 1G2 P: 604.688.2398 F: 604.688.1963 E: info@biv.com

PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO: 40069240. REGISTRATION NO: 8876. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Circulation Department: 102 East Fourth Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5T 1G2. E-mail: subscribe@biv.com

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 3

5/10/12 3:26:00 PM


Closing the loop on organic waste How composting has

become a sustainable

solution for local business

T

wo Vancouver restaurants, Trafalgars Bistro and Sweet Obsession Cakes and Pastries, are feeding the land instead of the landfill by implementing an onsite, closed-loop organic waste composting program. By collaborating with GreenGood Composter, Inner City Farms and Urban Impact recycling, the restaurant and bakery have eliminated 100% of the organic waste that used to go to the landfill. Now they recycle 98% of their remaining garbage and the organic waste is composted onsite before it is taken away to be used in the soil of local farmlands. Sustainability of its products and systems are front of mind for restaurant coowners Stephen Greenham and Lorne Tyczenski. The bistro uses sustainable products from the Pacific Northwest while the bakery next door makes its treats without any stabilizers, preservatives, artificial colour or flavourings. “We decided to be more responsible about the way we run our food service business and started by offering recyclable containers several years ago,” said Greenham. “We connected with Inner

4

RACHEL KWOK

Ingrid de Jong Joffe

As part of Trafalgars’ focus on sustainability, all the meat is sourced locally, the majority of seasonal produce comes through its farm-to-table initiative and all seafood is 100% Ocean Wise compliant

City Farms who told us about the GreenGood Composter. We had been recycling everything but our organic waste for several years and this machine allows us to implement a closed-loop system.” In September the two eateries installed a GreenGood GG-50 composting machine; it composts organic waste in 24 hours and reduces food waste by 90% to 95% of its original volume. In four months, the restaurant went from filling an industrial-sized dumpster four times a week to a half-full plastic grocery bag. “Organic waste is very bad for the landfill,” said Brian Leung, co-owner of

GreenGood. “It needs a microbial process in order to break down. When organic waste is delivered to the landfill, it is not aerated, which is bad on the environment as it generates toxic levels of methane gas.” Traditional organic waste composting requires worms, layering and turning the rotting material several times, dealing with fruit flies, bad odour and at least 30 days to decompose. The GreenGood Composter is an aerobic composting machine that processes food waste within 24 hours, down to 90% of its original volume. “Food waste and meat products are

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 4

5/10/12 3:26:07 PM


DOMINIC SCHAEFER

Trafalgars Bistro and Sweet Obsession Cakes and Pastries partners Lorne Tyczenski and Stephen Greenham with a GreenGood composter: “we decided to be more responsible about the way we run our food service business”

very high in water content and can be composted within 12 to 24 hours using a microbial process,” said Leung. The composter has charcoal filters to ensure there are no odours, and it is scalable from household and commercial to industrial use. Restaurant staff had already been separating its non-organic waste for years. “Once we became committed to investigating its practicality and cost-effectiveness, we weighed the organic waste before putting it in the dumpster and got everyone on board by separating the recyclables into different containers,” said Tyczenski. They separated waste into eight different disposal streams: returnable containers, hard plastics, soft plastics, glass, paper, metal cardboard and organics. Then the question remains, what to do with the compost? To close the loop, once a week Inner City Farms picks up approximately 240 kilograms of compost from Trafalgars and Sweet Obesession, and distributes the nutrient-rich compost for use in the soil of neighbourhood farms throughout the city. Anything that’s not organic gets collected by Urban Impact and ABD Solutions to be recycled.

“We had been recycling everything but our organic waste for several years and this machine allows us to implement a closed-loop system” – Stephen Greenham, co-owner, Trafalgars Bistro and Sweet Obsession Cakes and Pastries

The brainchild of five friends, Inner City Farms is a Vancouver-based urban agriculture collective that grows vegetables, fruit and herbs in neglected garden spaces and residential lawns and converts them into small-scale organic farms throughout the city. Then they distribute the food back to the community. Inner City sells “shares” to local families; each share translates to weekly boxes of produce that can feed a family of four, delivered from June to late October – up to 1,300 boxes of organic produce annually. “Last year, we sold 50 shares of vegetables,” said co-founder Will Valley. “This year, we’re looking at selling 60 shares as

well as selling to chefs from local restaurants. They get really excited about being able to use our products because the vegetables taste better and their dishes taste better.” In addition to the ecofriendly solution, Trafalgars and Sweet Obsession have experienced significant savings in wasteremoval costs, and the composter will pay for itself in approximately two years. “Ultimately the GreenGood Composter saves money,” said Greenham. “We used to pay $900 every month to empty the dumpster of garbage and organic waste. Now we pay $100 on extra power every month, but save $800 on the dumpster fees.” Ą BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 5

5

5/10/12 3:26:13 PM


Recycling consumer appeal

Two Vancouver businesses use sustainable practices to attract clients

6

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 6

5/10/12 3:26:15 PM


RICHARD LAM

Clover Hair Salon owner Jennifer Wanderleij: “it’s a little more time consuming but we’ve whittled it down to an easy routine so we hardly notice”

C

Peter DeVries

lover Hair Salon bills itself as one of Vancouver’s most sustainable places to get a haircut. It has good reason to: by using a comprehensive waste management system Jennifer Wanderleij, owner of the downtown shop, has also been able to bring the shop’s waste aversion to 98%. It’s a significant accomplishment. By comparison, according to a 2011 waste management report by Metro Vancouver, the average household creates around 1,000 kilograms of waste per year; Wanderleij has her business down to just 20 kilograms. Green Workplace Consulting, a Vancouver-based business that provides fee-for-service consulting and workplace sustainability BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 7

7

5/10/12 3:26:18 PM


Kimbo Design principal and creative designer Kim Pickett: “it [will] be more profitable for the client because everybody is buying a green option these days”

training, helped Wanderleij with her green operations to avoid practices that see many other salons have of discarding what could otherwise be recycled. “We’ve exceeded the criteria for a green workplace for monitoring our footprint, by not printing things, by recycling what we can, doing energy efficiency upgrades, composting, and [greening] basically anything that goes on here,” said Wanderleij. Rather than using the somewhat simplified, traditional separation of recyclables, she’s implemented a more comprehensive process that includes the separation of plastics into groups of their seven different classifications. She even composts cut hair, which is picked up by gardeners who use it as an animal repellant. “It’s a little more time consuming but

we’ve whittled it down to an easy routine so we hardly notice,” she said. Anyone looking in from the outside might see an arduous, complex system, but once it was in place, said Wanderleij, learning to follow it turned out to be just like any other task, and staff quickly bought in to the cleaner operations. It wasn’t easy to get started, she said, and it took a lot of work to find the private companies to pick up the various materials. Their services also come with a cost. “There are monthly charges for composting and recycling alternatives - it’s the cost of maybe one or two of my clients,” she said. But that cost is offset by the fact that the designation draws clients in. “[It’s] probably the reason given

by more than 50% of our new clients. [It] holds a lot of appeal.” Wanderleij’s environmental mindset isn’t unique for Vancouver’s small businesses. Kimbo Design, a Vancouver graphic design company, has also taken steps to green its operations. It recently won a Green Dot Award for a project it completed for a signage campaign promoting energy conservation. The Green Dot Awards recognize businesses that have exceptionally high environmental standards, and Kimbo was noted for a combination of sustainable design service and the sustainability of the materials used in the project. “Classic designs have a lasting impact on consumers,” said Kim Pickett, principal and creative director. “Our goal is

“Our goal is to create longevity. This saves the client money while reducing environmental impacts” – Kim Pickett, principal and creative director, Kimbo Design 8

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 8

5/10/12 3:26:24 PM


“[Greening the company is] probably the reason given by more than 50% of our new clients. [It] holds a lot of appeal” – Jennifer Wanderleij, owner, Clover Hair Salon

to create longevity. This saves the client money while reducing environmental impacts.” The industry poses its own challenges when it comes to using sustainable products. It’s one of the reasons Kimbo works closely with its printer, ensuring it has ethical certification, that it uses environmentally friendly inks, and that it runs as close to carbon-neutral operations as possible. Printing, said Pickett, is where the graphic design process can make good headway in reducing its carbon footprint. But the choices aren’t just in the kinds of ink to be used. The materials on which they print also pose significant environmental impacts. “Something might not be a sustainable material but then you have to weigh that against other factors that come into play,” said Pickett, such as longevity and durability. Usually, she said, longevity in products is the goal, and that can be a balancing act because some more environmentally friendly products degrade faster, resulting in a need to replace them sooner, and that has an impact as well. Those considerations have changed the methods by which people in her industry approach projects. “Before, we would think about it in the printing stage and that would [now] be too late. So we’ve moved that into the very first stage.” And although there may be some elevated costs in the materials and processes used in the design, said Pickett, the market has become more excited about purchasing environmentally friendly products. “It [will] be more profitable for the client because everybody is buying a green option these days.” Ą

Sustaining our advantage. At Audi, sustainability is a commitment that permeates everything we do – from research to design to manufacturing. And the driver ultimately benefits, because at Audi there is no contradiction between performance and efficiency. For years, we have been a technological leader in performance-oriented, fuel-efficient engines and lightweight aluminum construction. Lower weight equals not only lower fuel consumption and, therefore, CO2 emissions, but a more dynamic driving experience. And just over the horizon, Audi e-tron will come to define the electric vehicle of the future – with no compromise in driving pleasure, design and comfort. This is where the meaning of Vorsprung durch Technik really takes shape – a philosophy in which every aspect of design is driven by the goal to give drivers a distinct “advantage” through integrated, progressive technology. What’s good for the environment and society as a whole is also very good for you – the Audi driver of today, tomorrow and long into the future. Many companies talk about sustainability. We have proof of it waiting at your Vancouver area Audi dealership. Visit us any time for a test drive and see just how exciting reducing CO2 emissions can be.

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 9

9

5/10/12 3:26:27 PM


Taking the green lead Stantec plays role in sustainable standards evolution

Stantec regional leader for B.C. Michael Kennedy: “we get businesses to look at life-cycle costs, encourage innovative sustainable design, and adjust procurement guidelines, whether it be roads, bridges or other infrastructure”

F

Brenda Young

or two consecutive years, Stantec was named one of Canada’s greenest employers by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, recognized for its robust environmental programs and earth-friendly policies including a travel demand management (TDM) study to determine employee commuting habits and sustainable barriers. The company’s services include planning, engineering, architecture, project management and project economics for infrastructure and facilities projects.

10

“Our sustainable team uses education and engagement principles companywide to get buy-in, including monthly themes, online information, activities and events,” said Marty Janowitz, vicepresident, sustainable development at Stantec. “We now have an automated program to reduce energy use by turning off computers at night. “We encourage staff to rent the most fuel-efficient cars. And we’re developing green procurement policies to drive sustainable change, encouraging managers to pay attention to whether a building is energy-efficient or not. The criteria used

to be quality, suitability and cost, but now we’re considering a building from an energy point of view, looking at properties where we can meter energy usage.” Janowitz says that systemically, the environment is an organism that includes transit, water and waste water. “It’s like a human system in terms of how you design it and how the parts are related. Systemic change and behaviours don’t shift overnight. It happens step by step.” He believes social marketing and education, plus the proverbial carrots and sticks, will shape attitudes and interests.

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 10

5/10/12 3:26:31 PM


“When it comes to encouraging other cities and organizations to be more sustainable, it’s important that we walk the talk and maximize our greenness before we can implement change internationally” – Cordelia Crockett, senior transit planner and member of the transportation solutions group, Stantec

“It’s an urgent matter, because nature bats last,” said Janowitz. “There are forces more powerful than what we can control. In the business environment, we have to go slow, be pragmatic and keep our colleagues on board. “Business is the most powerful force for social change. It’s innovative, creative and has a strong survival instinct. Many businesses are rapidly waking up to climate change. We’d like our company to be identified as a shaper, defining the next generation of business.” Michael Kennedy, Stantec’s regional leader for B.C., says that what started as an in-house initiative by employees who wanted their company to be the greenest has spread to dialogue with clients to become part of the design and construction process. “Ideas are put out at an early stage with contractors to show sustainable value and benefits, to encourage smart decisions to take place, so that it makes sense from every perspective,” said Kennedy. “We get businesses to look at life-cycle costs, encourage innovative sustainable design, and adjust procurement guide-

lines, whether it be roads, bridges or other infrastructure.” With sustainable standards in-house from composting to green purchasing, employee committees measure how they control company waste, trying to divert to sustainable goals including recycling all IT equipment along with 90% of their paper. Cordelia Crockett, senior transit planner and part of Stantec’s transportation solutions group, sees sustainable solutions as always step by step. “Buy-in includes education, geographic factors and travel preferences,” said Crockett. “We use web surveys and workshops for monitoring and outreach. Not everyone can telecommute, so there are limits. We work with people and their unique habits. “Our group is working on alternative transit technologies and facilities, general policy and making transit greener. We need to watch fuel costs, the car industry and gas prices to keep transit attractive.” Crocket says that their TDM surveys help to pinpoint what is driving employees’ travel choices, with a concrete ex-

planation of what specific changes – such as cost of passes, parking or geography – need to be considered. “When it comes to encouraging other cities and organizations to be more sustainable, it’s important that we walk the talk, and maximize our greenness before we can implement change internationally,” Crockett said. TransLink’s TDM program manager Patricia Lucy says that Stantec is part of a co-operative network of employers and different service providers they work with to demonstrate how sustainable travel can work in their TravelSmart program. “There’s small changes that people can make on a daily basis. There are certain market segments who don’t want to give up their cars, but the millennials are a big driver of change. They’re the sharing economy, and are connected in large networks with new rideshare programs such as HitchWhistler,” Lucy said. “We’re trying to bring TravelSmart up to a more regional level, sharing resources to make a bigger impact. It is a challenge, but people are open to making small changes.” Ą BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 11

11

5/10/12 3:26:31 PM


Shifting attitudes Companies help each other change behaviour and their footprints

RICHARD LAM

Joji Kumagai, executive director of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association, stands amid a pile of trash he hopes will become someone’s treasure

W Baila Lazarus

hile the three Rs of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycle – roll off the tongue easily, what’s not as straightforward is how to accomplish them. It may be hard, if not impossible, to look at your company’s waste stream, for example, and see any value in it. But in the past few years, organizations around the Lower Mainland have been developing programs to do just that – create value out of waste, as well as aide in the reduction of overall carbon footprints. In Vancouver’s Strathcona area, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (BIA) has been branding itself as a green hub in an urban core. The BIA helps connect businesses with one

12

another so that one company’s waste can be another’s source of income. “All these things landing in the landfill can be valuable to others,” said Joji Kumagai, executive director of the Strathcona BIA. In a recent example, a local fabric distribution business had hundreds of old sample books they were going to throw out. The pieces of material seemed too small to be of any use, but a creative artist took the samples and transformed them into wallets and handbags to sell. In another example, the BIA linked a printing company with another business that produces corporate gift boxes. Rather than use Styrofoam peanuts or other packing material for their gifts, the business now uses paper off-cuts from the printing company. “The big challenges is relationship building – talking to businesses about

what sustainability is,” said Kumagai. “It can be daunting. Everyone knows there’s something that should be done in the community. Some are ahead of the curve, others trying to find their way. “For the most part, when people find out it’s a chance to reduce their footprint and to improve efficiency of the supply chain or reduce waste or repurpose items for peope who are doing good things – they’re keen.” The Strathcona BIA is in the midst of building a type of Craigslist for waste sharing. Those with items to give away can list them in a special section of the BIA’s site, as can those looking for unique materials. A glance shows people looking for tree branches that have recently been cut down, computer printers and monitors, and used, clean packing peanuts. At Vancouver’s Fairware, co-founder

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 12

5/10/12 3:26:53 PM


 $"2 4)"4 7&*()3 ,&33 )".%,&3 #&44&2 .(*.&&2&% 7*4) 5%* 5,42" ,*()47&*()44&$)./,/(84)&.&75%* %&,*6&23$/-'/24".%30/248 "(*,*48#&8/.%$/-0"2&&$"53&3/-&4*-&3,&332&",,8*3-/2&

      



    

    

 

 

"2+7//%!"89*$)-/.%      

9"5%*$"2*$)-/.%

  /5.%"28/"%9 ".$/56&2  !      9/0&.2/"%"5%*$/-

 54/-",,2*6&9/24) ".$/56&2        9$"0*,"./"5%*$/-

=5%*"."%"52/0&".-/%&,3)/7.7*4)/04*/.",&15*0-&.44)"4-"8./4#&"6"*,"#,&"44)&4*-&/'052$)"3&:5%*<: <: /23025.(%52$)&$).*+<".%4)&'/522*.(3&-#,&-"2&2&(*34&2&% 42"%&-"2+3/'/;.%/54-/2&"#/545%*6*3*48/525%*%&",&2$",,/26*3*453"4777"5%*$"

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 13

5/10/12 3:27:07 PM


DOMINIC SCHAEFER

Fairware co-founder and CEO Denise Taschereau (far left): “we’re part of the strategic conversation: How do we align the product with the values?” Michael Driedger, sustainability building adviser, Perkins+Will: “changing habits like these, as well as consumptions habits, is always challenging”

“It can be daunting. Everyone knows there’s something that should be done in the community. Some are ahead of the curve, others trying to find their way” – Joji Kumagai, executive director, Strathcona Business Improvement Association

Denise Taschereau changes client behaviour through promotional products. “We help companies align promotional products and marketing incentives with their sustainability values,” said Taschereau. Fairware provides promotional solutions for companies that want to maintain sustainability throughout their brand, but it also works with clients to take advantage of their own waste stream to build new products. For example, working with Aspen Ski Resort, Fairware took their old ski uniforms that were out of date and made them into tote bags and toiletry kits. “We’re starting to see companies 14

come to us to try and make products out of waste,” said Taschereau, who added that Fairware is now creating padfolios out of old banners from the 2010 Games that RBC will use for London Games this summer. Recently named one of the top-10 fastest-growing promotional product distributors in Western Canada, Fairware is more than just a product provider, Taschereau points out. It works with a company’s whole marketing plan. “We look at the brand roll out, marketing strategies, the coming quarter and the coming year, and we talk about what they want to achieve and how the products tell

that story,” she explained. “Our core client base has a deep commitment to social responsibility. We are not sitting in offices of companies that are early on in this strategy. We work with Patagonia, Aveda, Vancity – companies that are quite evolved. We’re part of the strategic conversation: How do we align the product with the values?” That commitment to social responsibility starts with a strong culture, said Michael Driedger, sustainability building adviser for architecture design firm Perkins+Will. “It’s everyone embracing a philosophy of good design – which is sustainable

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 14

5/10/12 3:27:15 PM


You Have a Vision for the Future. Ethically sourced promotional products provided by Fairware: tote bags for Aspen Ski Resort are made out of old ski uniforms; Vancity mugs send a serious message about how many disposable coffee cups are thrown out every year

Let TEC Canada help you achieve it. For nearly 30 years, TEC Canada has been helping good senior leaders become great CEOs. Discover how our unique approach to leadership development and international executive community of more than 14,500 members, generating nearly $300 billion in annual revenue, can help you succeed beyond expectations. 800-661-9209 info@tec-canada.com Visit www.tec-canada.com

design – and social responsibility, which goes hand in hand with environmental responsibility. We engage staff on multiple levels from transit and fitness subsidies to donating our consulting time to local projects in Vancouver that could benefit from our services but can’t afford them.” Recently, Perkins+Will has focused a lot of effort on changing behaviour around air travel. “As for operational and staff engagement it is creating a culture of people who will use communication technology over transportation technology,” Driedger explained. “Given the efficiency and importance of face-to-face interactions, getting people to use teleconference equipment will continue to be a challenge. Changing habits like these, as well as consumptions habits, is always challenging. Getting people to use less and educate themselves more is never an easy task in a society with attractive products and information overload.” Ą

TEC Canada is committed to creating twenty-first century leaders who champion innovation, collaboration and empowerment. Our vision is to accelerate the growth and development of Canadian business. TEC Canada is part of Vistage International. The globe and maple leaf represent TEC’s expansive international perspective rooted in our Canadian heritage.

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 15

15

5/10/12 3:27:24 PM


Where luxury meets sustainability B.C. hotels set new green standards to bridge deluxe service and ethics

“It’s not about being 100% green. It’s about being greener. Every little bit we do makes it better” – Todd Jeannotte, director of catering and conference services, Four Seasons Vancouver

A Diana Cikes

lthough the concepts of “luxury” and “sustainability” rarely go handin-hand, British Columbia is seeing a growing consumer demand for deluxe goods and services with sound environmental and social credentials. Luxury hotels, like the Four Seasons Vancouver and the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, are emerging as leaders in this movement toward “sustainable luxury” 16

through the implementation of cuttingedge technologies, policies and programs that are setting the international standard for sustainable business operations. Both hotels have recently joined the ranks of only 51 prestigious hotels and resorts worldwide to achieve the highest Five Green Key rating by the Green Key Eco-Rating program, which ranks, certifies and inspects hotels and resorts based on their commitment to sustainable “green” operations. “It started in 2007,” said Todd Jeannotte,

director of catering and conference services at the Four Seasons Vancouver, about the hotel chain’s journey toward becoming a leader in sustainable hotel operations. “I realized that we needed to quantify and formalize what we already had in place, not only in terms of our operations but also our corporate mindset. And we had to push it forward. ... Otherwise, we’d miss the boat on where we should be as a socially responsible company, and we’d miss the boat on what our customers want.”

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 16

5/10/12 3:27:31 PM


Using the self-assessment tools provided by the Green Key Eco-Program as a benchmark for structuring their improvement efforts, the Four Seasons formed a green committee and began to assess operational areas such as utility consumption, employee training and supply chain management. Investing in a hybrid heating system, the hotel was able to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint by programming and monitoring energy consumption based on the its daily capacity and activities.

“There are so many new products and technologies out there to help”, said Claire Macdonald, marketing manager for the Wickaninnish Inn, which recently installed high-efficiency fireplaces with electronic ignition modules that eliminate the need for a standing pilot light. But making such improvements required an upfront investment and a solid, long-term commitment to improvement. “There’s that leap of faith that’s going to happen for any business that decides they want to make some progress toward be-

ing more green because it’s going to cost money at some point,” said Jeannotte. “It really comes down to having a commitment to do the right thing.” At times, that commitment requires an investment of time rather than money. “It actually took us two years to find the perfect napkin,” Macdonald explained. “We wanted a product that was environmentally friendly but still of high quality in texture and appearance.” The resort eventually decided on 100% compostable napkins made from bamboo, BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 17

17

5/10/12 3:27:36 PM


“It actually took us two years to find the perfect napkin. We wanted a product that was environmentally friendly but still of high quality in texture and appearance” – Claire Macdonald, marketing manager, the Wikaninnish Inn

The Wickaninnish Inn features wood panelling, window and door trims, crown mouldings and baseboards sourced from salvaged or recycled wood

a highly renewable and sustainable natural resource. With the same commitment to sustainability and improvement, the Wickaninnish Inn understands the upfront costs involved. Having recently completing over $2.5 million in upgrades to the hotel, the Wick features a second high-efficiency boiler, the first of which was installed in 2008. Recent upgrades also include more energy-efficient lighting and fireplaces. Demonstrating that luxury and sustainability no longer need to be mutually exclusive, hotels across B.C. are beginning to incorporate natural materials into the guest experience, like the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria, which now provides earthfriendly guest amenities created with tree bough oils sustainably 18

harvested from B.C. “It’s really about celebrating your environment,” said Macdonald. “We’re always looking at our own environment for inspiration and try to source things from the area, from materials to workers, to local artisans. That’s all a part of sustainability.” Although becoming more sustainable is not always easy, it is an experience that carries many rewards. “There are many things [the Four Seasons did] over the past few years that have not only been good for the environment, but have actually saved us money over the long term,” said Jeannotte. In an effort to reduce linen usage, which carries a significant annual cost and wastes energy and water to maintain, the Four

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 18

5/10/12 3:27:41 PM


“It’s really about celebrating your environment. We’re always looking at our own environment for inspiration and try to source things from the area, from materials to workers, to local artisans. That’s all a part of sustainability” – Claire Macdonald, marketing manager, Wickaninnish Inn

Seasons purchased new residential tables, eventually completely eliminating linens from its buffets. “Three years later, we had completely paid the tables off,” said Jeannotte. Secondary effects of the Four Seasons’ improvement efforts were also carried down to suppliers. “As we started to look at our purchasing practices, we found that we could motivate our suppliers to rethink their own practices,” Jeannotte said. “It was as easy

as asking for alternatives to Styrofoam containers or requesting 100% post-consumer napkins.” This trickle effect of sustainability provides an example of how small but consistent efforts can lead to significant outcomes. “It’s not about being 100% green,” Jeannotte explained. “It’s about being greener. Every little bit we do makes it better, from our purchasing practices to the menus we offer.”

Macdonald also discussed the importance of having a top-down support structure in place. “Our commitment to sustainability comes down from management and is part of the soul of the hotel. And it’s a journey that never ends. We’re always looking for ways to get to the next level.” “But you can’t do it all at once,” Jeannotte cautions. “Just start chipping away slowly and eventually things will start to happen.” Ą BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 19

19

5/10/12 3:27:42 PM


MEC at the White House Why the popular Canadian outdoor store is being recognized for its contribution to the health of communities Mountain Equipment Co-op director of sustainability Esther Speck: “over time we’ll have more products with environmentally preferred attributes”

I

By Peter DeVries

n an event held at the White House on April 12, U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Sustainability Working Group (SWG) for the work

it’s been doing to improve communities. Mountain Equipment Co-op’s participation as both a founding member and current OIA SWG advisory council member adds a Canadian point of interest to the prestigious honour. By engaging programs such as Bluesign, which provides

independent auditing of textile mills to ensure manufacturing processes are running green, and using clothing tags that mark products as sustainably sourced and manufactured, MEC takes caring for the environment seriously. We spoke with the company’s director of sustainability,

“MEC has a goal that by the end of 2012 at least 50% of the materials we use for apparel in our MEC brand products will be bluesign certified” – Esther Speck, director of sustainability, Mountain Equipment Co-op

20

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 20

5/10/12 3:27:43 PM


“It’s to ensure that we have access to the materials we need to make products, ... and it’s about protecting the places where our members play” – Esther Speck, director of sustainability, Mountain Equipment Co-op

Esther Speck, to learn more about how MEC has been infusing its operations with earth-friendly initiatives, and what it’s meant for business.

What is the Outdoor Industry Association and how is MEC involved? It’s a North American association for the outdoors. Members of the OIA include brands [such as MEC], retailers and other suppliers. A number of these got together in 2007 to develop a shared product sustainability-indexing tool that provides a standardized framework and language to assess product level sustainability. Over the last four or five years, over 200 brands and retailers worked together on this index as part of the OIA’s sustainability working group. These also comprised the founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which is a broader coalition of brands that represent about 30% of global apparel and footwear supply chains. The [SAC] adopted the OIA’s eco-index as the basis for its apparel and footwear index.

As a key member of the OIA, where is MEC in its journey toward sustainable industry practices? The outdoor industry, from my perspective, has always been conscious of the integral business link between

its core purpose, which is promoting being active in the outdoors, and the importance of protecting the outdoors. I believe that businesses within the industry have been active in conservation and protection issues for years, and that would have been the first stage. Now I think the second stage, which at an industry level really started in 2007, is about product and operations impact. The work to really examine and index, in a systematic way, our collective and shared supply chains around products really started at that time.

What are MEC’s customers seeing as a result? Our customers are seeing an ongoing evolution in the integrity of our products. We have a product sustainability symbol and that marks a product as unique or interesting from a sustainability perspective. Right now the attributes are environmental; for example, products that are made from recycled polyester, or from organically grown cotton, or repurposed materials, and we hope to expand that in the future to social attributes. Over time we’ll have more products with environmentally preferred attributes.

Why is MEC investing in this model of doing business? MEC exists to help people get outside. We do that by providing products and

services, and that’s bottom line for us. We do that in a way that has a lower environmental impact and creates more positive values. Everything we do has to have a business case to help us achieve our purpose. This comes in on a number of different levels. I would say it’s three things: one is appeal to consumers. The brand value connection is an important component. Second is business continuity, and the work we’re doing with our supply chain helps us to have better and stronger relationships with our suppliers. Third is access to resources and places to play. In the longer term, it’s to ensure that we have access to the materials we need to make products, for example, that we have water to dye our materials and access to petrochemical bases that we require to make our products, and it’s about protecting the places where our members play.

What is MEC’s plan for the future of sustainable operations? MEC has a goal that by the end of 2012 at least 50% of the materials we use for apparel in our MEC brand products will be bluesign certified. I think what we’re doing is creating a common learning and understanding platform and creating a market for better designed products. And that’s a collaborative effort – it’s something MEC could never do on its own. Ą BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 21

21

5/10/12 3:27:43 PM


RICHARD LAM

Metro Vancouver senior engineer, solid waste department, Andrew Marr: “there is an opportunity for companies that want to get into the business of hauling organics”

Waste not Collecting organic material could be the new gold rush

22

M Peter DeVries

etro Vancouver last year launched a new program aimed at increasing waste diversion in the region. The plan set four guidelines: reducing waste, maximizing reuse, recovering energy from waste, and disposing of what’s left only after it’s been depleted of its reusable qualities. Called the

BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 22

5/10/12 3:27:48 PM


“Most forward-thinking businesses know that waste equals cost.”

RICHARD LAM

– Andrew Marr, senior engineer solid waste department, Metro Vancouver

Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan, the goal is to bring waste diversion levels from 55% to 70% by 2015. Andrew Marr, senior engineer at Metro Vancouver’s solid waste department, believes the region is on track to achieve its goal. The greatest opportunity, says Marr, lies in organic waste collection. According to Metro Vancouver’s 2010 garbage facts, the region produces more than three million tonnes of waste per year. Of that amount, about half is organic. Construction sites and businesses are the largest contributors, each producing about 1.2 million tonnes. The construction industry diverts around 76% of its organic waste, whereas businesses do less well at 44%. Residential units contribute significantly less waste, but their diversion rate is notably different: multi-family homes divert only 16% of their 260,000 tonnes and single-family homes divert almost three times as much, separating 46% of their 800,000 tonnes. Aside from minimizing environmental impacts, the plan offers some promising opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking to capitalize on the waste diversion market. By the numbers, businesses, which throw out the greatest amount of organic waste, offer the best opportunity for building an industry around collection. “If you look at organics, about half of it comes from businesses, and most of what

change, and here’s the timing. People will they throw out is food,” said Marr. Marr believes achieving the change can recognize that this [will] happen, and that it’s [not] a risky business.” be accomplished in part by selling organic Marr noted that in order to foster the waste collection as a viable business. healthy growth of new collection busi“There is an opportunity for companies nesses, a balance must be struck between that want to get into the business of haulthe rate at which waste-producing busiing organics,” said Marr. nesses divert more of their organic waste According to Metro Vancouver, the and that at which new waste collection market supports the idea that the creation businesses sprout up. of these businesses is financially feasible. He thinks businesses will be receptive. They won’t get any competition from Met“Most forward-thinking businesses know ro Vancouver either, said Marr. “Metro Vancouver is not in the business of process- that waste equals cost,” he said, adding they face their own challenges in facilitating organics, and it has no intention to be.” ing the change. Many of them simply don’t The cost of managing garbage is just have the space to house the facilities needover $100 per tonne. The cost to take ored to divert their waste. ganic material to a composting facility is To help remedy the problem, Metro around $60 to $70 per tonne. Although Vancouver is working with municipalities the numbers can vary somewhat, said to modify existing bylaws to ensure new Marr, there is money to be made if busibusiness construction provides for space nesses do it right, and he says Metro Vanto house containers that would facilitate couver is trying to help. this type of recycling. “We want to increase the financial inNonetheless, there are other cost savcentive to divert organics,” said Marr. So ings for businesses making the change as they’re setting the stage for success for well. For example, diverting organic waste those wishing to invest in the business. means that a business would need a smallBy setting up a price structure that er container for garbage, and that it might makes it profitable to divert garbage, need to be collected less frequently. they’re creating an economic and regu“We can’t put numbers to it yet, but cerlatory climate that will make these busitainly anecdotally it looks like significant nesses viable. Conversely, by imposing changes are happening,” said Marr. Asked disposal bans and fees, they’re trying to what financial incentives Metro Vancoucompel people to leave the pure garbage ver has created for would-be investors businesses. and entrepreneurs, his answer was simple: “We are providing some certainty for “The incentive is the business opportunity investors by saying the rules are going to itself.” Ą change and here’s how they’re going to BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER EXCELLENCE SERIES

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 23

23

5/10/12 3:27:50 PM


PRINTING PARTNER

BIV 1178 BES SustainabilityStarter.indd 24

SPONSOR

5/10/12 3:27:52 PM


Business Excellence Series 2012 - Sustainability  

In this second of Business in Vancouver’s Business Excellence series for2012, we look at 12 businesses and organizations that have achieved...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you