11 ways to improve sustainability

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Last week HRM looked at why green initiatives are vital in today’s environment of corporate social responsibility and sustainability goals. But where do you start? Canada’s greenest employers tell HRM about some of their best initiatives, and top tips.

Many companies discussed introducing sustainability into building and retro-fitting spaces, especially when it coincides with long-term plans for growth or renovations. York University has developed its own sustainability building code to incorporate into its expansion plans, according to assistant vice president human resources Aileen Ashman.

One way RBC is trying to reduce its overall impact on the planet is by including sustainability issues in its overall risk assessments for companies. Before lending to an organization or project, the bank assesses any environmental risks associated with it.

The company also has a specific loan available for companies with more than 50% of their company portfolio in renewable energy, Sandra Odendahl, RBC director of corporate sustainability, said.

While Fairmont has many of the common hotel initiatives, such as optional towel and sheet washes, they get creative when they can. Goods from hotel renovations going to women’s shelters instead of the dump and if you thought the Fairmont Royal York in downtown Toronto was pretty sweet it might be thanks to the beehives on the roof, which they use to make their own honey. The chef even grows his own herbs on the roof space, Carolyn Clark, VP of Human Resources, said.

Technology is another area that can help, with telework and conferencing reducing cars on the road and people in the air. Accenture director of geographic services and workplace solutions Karen Pelletier said the company’s smart work program had made a big difference by providing the materials and resources to implement “alternative travel arrangements” for client-facing teams, and flexible work arrangements for employees.

Telus’ Work Styles program has had similar results, and has allowed them to reduce their real estate footprint, but that’s not the only real estate initiative that’s helped them meet sustainability and community goals. Heat produced by the company’s data centre in Vancouver  is being redirected to a nearby residential tower, Senior vice-president of strategic initiatives, communications and government relations Andrea Goertz said.

See page 2 for these employers' best advice on implementing your own plan.

read more > 1 2

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