2019 Sustainability Highlights
February 11, 2020
What a year 2019 has been, Green Economy London officially launched in May as the 7th Green Economy hub in Ontario to join the growing network of businesses transitioning towards a green economy. We saw many of our members implement sustainability projects to reduce the impact of their businesses on the environment, here are just a few highlights from 2019.
The Corporation of the City of London (the City), who is both a founding member and partner of Green Economy London has been a driver for contributing to a more sustainable future for our community. In addition to community-focused actions such as partnering with Project Neutral to help Londoners get started on climate action, City staff will be developing a Climate Emergency Action Plan to support City Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in April 2019.
The City has already implemented many internal corporate sustainability actions under its 2014-2018 Corporate Energy Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) Plan, as city street lights have been converted to high efficiency LED lights and new buildings are being built following sustainable design guidelines. The city’s wastewater facilities and water pumping stations have also had energy-saving retrofits. The 2014-2018 CDM Plan avoided $12.5 million in energy costs, reduced energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent, and reduced the total annual energy use by nine percent.
The updated CDM Plan for 2019-2023 was also developed and approved last year. The 2019-2023 CDM Plan supports the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan and will play a major role in the upcoming Climate Emergency Action Plan. The primary goal of the new CDM Plan is to reduce total annual energy use by five percent from 2018 levels by 2023, and City staff will also be assessing ways to achieve net-zero GHG emissions from municipal energy use by 2050 or sooner.
Some of the planned activities include: additional building energy and lifecycle renewal audits; feasibility studies for solar energy at City buildings and facilities; power generation from waste heat at the Greenway Wastewater Treatment Plant; and replacing diesel with compressed natural gas, including the use of renewable natural gas, to fuel waste collection trucks. We look forward to seeing the City’s plans unfold as they continue to maximize efficiency through technological change.
One of our founding partners, the Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES) at Western has been active with their sustainability initiatives. Green Economy London has connected with the CES’ Masters of Environment and Sustainability Program which has 48 current students and had 44 graduates last year. Other key partnerships were also developed throughout the year including opening a ‘Western Bureau’ for Alternatives Media Inc. the publisher of Alternatives Journal and ENV Media. Six Editorial Associates from the MES program make up Western’s Editorial Team through which several initiatives and publications have emerged.
In March, 2020 the CES will host the first annual Clintar C.A.R.E.S Case Competition which will bring students from various Canadian Universities together for a two-day summit, challenging them to explore ideas for cultivating a greener planet. The CES has also begun to partner with on-campus initiatives and the local community, including the World’s Challenge Challenge and EnviroWestern Case Competition.
In 2019, Play Away set a greenhouse gas reduction target of 20%. To help achieve this target they installed an ecobee programmable thermostat, which is estimated to reduce their heating and cooling costs by 15%. Upcoming projects for Play Away include installing air curtains and solar panels, and retrofitting their lighting to LED. Furthermore, Play Away has a high waste diversion rate due to an effective organic waste stream in place. They are diverting around 8,000 lbs of waste per year from going to landfills, which means preventing over 4,000 kg of CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere. These projects will show the younger generation that they cater to, the importance of reducing energy consumption and environmental impact to achieve a sustainable future.
London Brewing Co-operative had an exciting year in 2019 as they got their organic certification! They are the second independent craft brewery in Ontario to brew certified organic beer and continue to provide Londoners with a sustainable beverage option. London Brewing uses environmentally friendly and local ingredients, investing in the local farming communities. They also have a refillable growler program so you can fill up on your favourite organic beer in an eco-conscious way. In addition to getting their organic certification, London Brewing inserted a LittaTrap in a storm water drain on their property, donated to them from Enviropod to stop litter from entering our waterways. They were also part of an initiative by Green Economy London, London Environmental Network, the London Arts Council and the City of London where the storm drain on their property was painted to illustrate the importance of not putting waste into the storm water system.
On The Move Organics has been working on many sustainability initiatives including the installation of a pollinator garden to encourage wild pollinator populations. There are also some exciting projects On The Move Organics has on the go for 2020. They are installing a hoop house to reduce their scope 3 transportation emissions. A hoop house is a passively heated greenhouse – part of On The Move Organic’s fossil fuel reduction strategy and environmental stewardship mission. The hoop house will be installed on a brownfield site where the LOLA Bees project is located, an urban land that has been previously developed. It will grow organic salad greens and native plants on raised beds (using the stormwater catchment for watering). This will provide them with an extended growing season so they can continue to provide sustainable and local food to the community!
The hoop house project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the previous procurement of greens and compost program for On The Move Organics. It will also serve as a source of forage for the LOLA Bees honey bee and wild pollinator populations. The system is closed even further by using part of the compost from On The Move Organics, The Root Cellar and London Brewing for soil for the hoop house.
The Root Cellar, a local farm-to-fork restaurant that is an active member of the Green Economy London network installed a white roof on their building. White roofs reflect much more sunlight than traditional black roofs and will help keep the building cool, reduce energy use and can help reduce the total Urban Heat Island effect. The Root Cellar also increased the foam roof insulation by 2 inches, increasing the R-value of the roof by 7. R-value measures a material’s resistance to heat flow, so having a higher R-value from increasing insulation means The Root Cellar’s roof will increase its thermal resistance. Both of these initiatives are projected to give them heating and cooling savings. In addition to retrofitting their roof, The Root Cellar upgraded their old washing machine to a high efficiency machine and they offset their electricity with Bullfrog Power.
McCabe Promotional has been hard at work on their sustainability projects. In December 2019, they received their B Corp certification meaning they meet the highest standards of verified social, environmental, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance purpose and profit. They are the first promotional products distributor in Ontario to gain the designation. In addition to becoming a B Corp certified business, McCabe realized an opportunity to reduce their water usage by changing their lawn watering schedule. By switching from watering the lawn daily to just twice a week they saved 40% water usage over the summer.
Furthermore, with McCabe’s commitment to being better for their people and our planet they created The Impact Collection line which features environmentally conscious and socially responsible products. This line uses a 34-point questionnaire to verify that the product is sustainable. The questionnaire examines the raw materials used to make the product, how and where it was manufactured, whether or not it is biodegradable or recyclable, and whether it is created by a social enterprise. This process allows McCabe to recommend environmentally friendly products to their customers. The Impact Collection involves badges which denotes if a product is Made in Canada, Made of 100% Recycled Content, Partially Made with Recycled Content, from a B Corp Certified company, or of Journeyman Quality. McCabe will continue with The Impact Collection and hope that it will demonstrate how sustainable products are the best option for the planet and a great marketing tool. Way to go McCabe for demonstrating that sustainability and profit go hand in hand.
Heeman’s, a local and family-owned and operated garden centre and berry farm operates with sustainability in mind. In 2019 Heeman’s converted their Berry Beanery serving items to Greenware plant-based plastic items. In September they held their 6th annual Food Truck on the Farm event which was attended by thousands. With the support of student volunteers who sorted and collected the recycling, they diverted 136 bags of recyclables from going to the landfill. Heeman’s also has a number of sustainability initiatives in the works for 2020. Among them will be introducing a line of their two most popular herbs and vegetables, basil and tomatoes, in EcoGrow containers, a fully compostable, 100% sustainable fibre pot. They hope to build upon this trial in the future! Heeman’s will also be exploring installing a solar array and an industrial size composting program for customers to dispose of plant-based plastics from the Berry Beanery. We can’t wait to see Heeman’s sustainability initiatives continue to unfold in 2020.
One of our founding members, Alchemy Junk is a sustainable junk removal contractor focused on minimizing the amount of waste that goes to landfills through reuse and recycling. In 2019 Alchemy Junk made changes to improve their business’ cost effectiveness and efficiency, in turn decreasing their environmental impact. Alchemy Junk operated out of a 5,000 square foot warehouse which wasn’t cost effective due to the inefficiencies of paying hydro and rent. They realized the opportunity to improve their efficiency and reduce operating costs by selling the warehouse and purchasing a 20ft Diesel Hino box truck. The large truck size allows for more storage and sorting space, and increases the efficiency of Alchemy Junk’s travel time by being able to operate mostly out of the truck.
In 2019 Cornerstone Architecture implemented several sustainability initiatives both within their company and in the community. In the spring of 2019 Cornerstone participated in the London Clean and Green Community Clean Up, a community-wide litter clean up event. Cornerstone began an office-wide composting program which includes the brown paper towel waste from washrooms and they
divert their e-waste from going to landfills by reusing or recycling it appropriately. Cornerstone switched some of the office’s lighting to LED and will be switching the rest when the remaining bulbs burn out. By retrofitting the lighting fixtures, we estimate that Cornerstone will save around $3,387 per year in electricity. Cornerstone also programs the thermostat to energy saving temperatures when the office is unoccupied i.e. at night and on weekends. By doing this Cornerstone could reduce their energy consumption by up to 15%. In addition to these initiatives employees now manually shut off their computers at night to decrease total electricity usage. Last but not least all staff members completed the Project Neutral survey and Cornerstone held a staff lunch to update staff on all of these sustainability initiatives and the ones they are working towards with Green Economy London.
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