Throughout the winter and into the spring of 2011, three Wilfrid Laurier University students – Mara Silvestri, Sarah Morgan and Jennifer Carreiro teamed up withSustainable Waterloo Region to profile three members of the Regional Carbon Initiative for Sustainable Waterloo Region’s 2nd Annual Evening of Recognition. As part of a class project, the group visited the sites of Pano Cap Canada, Enermodal Engineering and the City of Waterloo to highlight some of the initiatives each organization has undertaken to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The group is happily sharing their experiences with Sustainable Waterloo Region to draw attention to the measures being taken by organizations across Waterloo Region to increase the environmental sustainability of our community.
Recently we were privileged to visit the Enermodal Engineering building located on Lancaster Street in Kitchener, Ontario. We spoke with Jon W. Douglas and Antoni Paleshi as part of a fourth year City Worlds course to assess how businesses fit within ecological sustainability. Enermodal Engineering is a Gold Pledging Partner with Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Regional Carbon Initiative. As a Gold Pledging Partner, Enermodal has made the commitment to reduce 100% of its green house gas emissions within ten years. According to their website, “Enermodal Engineering is Canada’s largest consulting firm exclusively dedicated to creating green buildings and communities” (www.enermodal.com). The commitment of this company to environmental sustainability can be witnessed from the moment you enter the parking lot of their facility. As a member of a carpool on the day that we visited Enermodal, I must state first and foremost that there are perks to travelling to work in an ecologically conscious way. Employees and visitors who come to the office in a hybrid vehicle or by carpool automatically get preferred parking spaces closer to the entrance. Additionally, the company has recently purchased a hybrid vehicle available to employees who have taken the extra step to use alternative transportation to get to and from work. The hybrid vehicle is utilized by those who use alternative transportation to travel to meetings or job sites. Upon entering the building you are instructed to document your means of transportation, which is included in the final emissions total calculated by the company.
This specific Enermodal Engineering office building is boasted to be the most environmentally friendly building in Canada and possibly North America, receiving three LEED Platinum certifications. Everything from the carpeting that you walk on to the fixtures, railings and paint has been made from recycled or renewable materials. There is all natural lighting within the offices eliminating the need for constant electric lighting. The day we visited Enermodal was overcast and even raining at times. Yet, amazingly, given the design of the building, once inside it appeared to be a relatively bright day. Even with the lack of sunlight outdoors, there was still no need to use many lights.
The employees at Enermodal have demonstrated great passion and interest in living sustainably. Enermodal Engineering is not only attempting to reduce the ecological footprint of other businesses and organizations, but has effectively raised the bar in terms of their commitment to operate an environmentally sustainable business. It was incomprehensible that more could be done to reduce their environmental impact, the building we were standing in was already LEED Platinum certified, yet the company wishes to continue challenging themselves. With two active green teams and a strong commitment from the top down to reduce their emissions we could hardly believe that anyone would be able to do more. We were wrong.
Enermodal Engineering already allows their employees to work from home a few days a week to reduce their emissions. They assist employees with the upgrades necessary in their own homes to reduce their ecological footprint as well as hiring a catering service that provides organic, local and fresh lunches for employees who wish to partake in the feast. Combine this with a spectacular view of the Grand River and it was hard to imagine working anywhere else.
Overall, Enermodal Engineering is a superb example of how one business can make such an immensely positive impact on their surrounding environment. Once again, they have raised the bar in terms of carbon reductions and overall sustainability, but other businesses and organizations considering undertaking these types of projects should not be discouraged. There are so many supports available in our community to allow for successful carbon reductions. Enermodal has proven, even though they have been extremely successful in their efforts, that more can always be done, all you have to do is start.