The Hamilton Spectator, by Lisa Marr
Sustainable Hamilton got the ball rolling two years ago and now the city’s business community is building momentum.
“Businesses are starting to realize it’s not a choice between sustainability or profitability,” says Sandi Stride, president and CEO. “It’s about creating a competitive edge.”
It’s also about realizing that while installing energy-efficient light bulbs or implementing a recycling program can help the bottom line, real sustainability ensures a holistic, forward-looking strategy that encompasses the entire organization — from supply chains to human resources.
Sustainable Hamilton issued its second annual business report Tuesday evening at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington and handed out four awards to local organizations for hitting the mark while creating sustainable programs.
Toby Heaps, CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights, was the keynote speaker.
Heaps said the work being done by Hamilton businesses was “awesome” and imperative. He pointed out that in the past 50 years, we have consumed one-third of the planet’s natural resources and 10 billion people will be climbing into middle class, consuming cars, air conditioners and other items.
“So then I try to ask provocative questions,” he said. “What about Hamilton? It could be a global leader in freshwater offshore wind. Hamilton is poised perfectly for this with manufacturing to make the turbines and the resources to do it. The province imposed a moratorium on wind turbines in 2011.
“Now is the time to go to the premier who just formed the Ministry of the Environment and climate change and suggest this.”
Heaps said there are many opportunities for Canadian companies to find a way forward by creating sustainable energy as an easily exportable commodity. He said corporate sustainability is on an upward trend.
The Hamilton numbers reflect that. Stride said when the organization launched, there were eight partner members. Now there are 14, with about 450 people from many more organizations attending workshops through the year.
The goal, said Stride, is to keep building on the momentum that’s reflected in the fact that it gave out awards to four organizations this year instead of three.
Stephanie McLarty, president of Refficient, the winner for Sustainable Innovation, said the best thing about the awards and the event is the way they motivate other businesses.
“To hear the panellists talk about the real changes they’ve made and why like Oakrun Bakery is inspiring,” she said.
Ruth Liebersbach, chief financial officer of McMaster Innovation Park, which won for Best Sustainability Report by a first-timer, said it was a lot of work.
“We were tracking lots of numbers, but we found out when we got the (Sustainable Hamilton) report that we weren’t collecting the right data.”
For example, MIP was tracking how many kilowatts were generated by its solar energy collectors but not how it saved units from the grid. In short, they weren’t really measuring the impact on the environment or the cost savings.
Liebersbach said writing the sustainability report was instructive in how to think about those impacts. The organization — which joined four months ago — is now tracking the right numbers and finding initial energy savings of 5 per cent for its tenants. It also now collects rainwater and uses it for washing the floors and watering the plants.
“I have worked for many Hamilton entrepreneurs in my career and I know that you have to show why you should do something,” she said. “Yes, we have sunk a lot of money in this, but long-term, the cost savings are amazing.”
See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator