We’ve reached a point now with climate change where we can no longer wait to act. As individuals or businesses, we are all accountable for progress toward a greener future. Where to start, though, isn’t always an easy question. Yet, as hard as they can be to imagine, the solutions are all around us — many have been here for years.
There’s no one way to become a green business. These six actions taken by local businesses show that sustainability initiatives can vary.
These organizations found solutions unique to them and the ways their businesses interact with energy and resources.
1. Change behaviour
Sometimes true change requires re-imagining how we do business or creating opportunities for others to do the same.
The Den, a sustainable goods shop in Ucluelet, is reshaping how tourists and hospitality businesses consume goods. Their zero-waste refill program provides local hotels and Airbnbs with an alternative to conventional high-waste hygiene products. Providing replenishable toxin-free products makes it easier for local businesses to reduce the single-use plastic waste created by the hospitality industry.
2. Increase efficiency
Hunt and Gather Hair Company is close to reaching carbon neutral status. Part of what helped them get there was switching to low-flow hair washing wands which reduce the amount of hot water required to wash client hair.
According to calculations by the Vancouver Island Green Business Collective, this has saved 481 cubic metres of water since Hunt and Gather Hair Co made the change earlier this year.
3. Build better buildings
In our quest for greener cities, we can’t forget the building blocks from which they are forged. Alexzi Building Solutions is the Island’s first Nexii-certified manufacturing plant. Their building envelopes are constructed using non-toxic materials and are 40 per cent more airtight than conventional construction, resulting in better thermal efficiency.
They are also extremely resistant to earthquakes, fires and floods, allowing developers to build future-proof buildings as climate change creates more natural disasters.
4. Switch to Renewables
Renewables are not just for vehicles. Any equipment that burns fossil fuels are good candidates for making changes. Clean Air Yard Care uses only battery-charged and electric lawn equipment (the latter which is powered by solar energy).
Gas-powered tools produce large amounts of emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an hour behind a traditional mower could produce the same amount of greenhouse gases as 350 miles in a car.
By switching to renewables, Clean Air Yard Care decreased their business’s environmental footprint and gave individuals a green choice when choosing a landscaping company.
5. Create Symbiosis
Moving the location of Victoria Distillers in 2016 was strategic, as it allowed them to lean on their neighbour, the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa, to create a closed-loop geothermal system.
During distillation, heat separates from the alcohol. Normally, this energy would be wasted, but, instead, it is captured and transferred to the hotel to heat their building.
When the heat is used up, the cold water is returned to the distillery where it is used in the condensers. This process transfers 850,000 BTU’s of energy to the hotel during every run of the still and saves 7,000 litres of water.
6. Train sustainable employees
To begin innovating on climate solutions, we need a workforce that understands the problem and feels confident bringing ideas forward.
At Schneider Electric, all employees undergo sustainability training. Not only does this help build green leaders, but it keeps companies accountable. According to Schneider’s Sustainability Impact report, 81 per cent of their employees feel confident reporting unethical behaviour. Large problems require big teams with the knowledge and the trust to innovate.