On Thursday, June 13, the Regional Sustainability Initiative hosted “Transporting your Business” at THEMUSEUM located in Kitchener, Ontario. There were three speakers from North, Quarry and Geotab, all discussing opportunities for businesses to reduce their transportation-related carbon emissions and provide employees with alternative transportation choices. According to ClimateActionWR’s 2015 report,  27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Waterloo Region are due to workplaces, and 49% of the carbon footprint is due to transportation. Passenger vehicles represent the majority (68%) of emission sources for the transportation sector there are many opportunities in the workplace to improve transportation emissions: beginning by reviewing the available infrastructure, discussing interests and opportunities to change transportation methods with employees, and measure the change in emissions!

     When you are rushing to work, driving seems like the fastest option. Caitlin Mulroney, Community Engagement Manager from North, admits that her driving commute to work is often longer than her colleagues who bike from the same neighbourhood. At North, she has explored ways to encourage employees to choose more sustainable commuting options including biking, public transportation and carpooling. By providing incentives such as allotted transportation funds, North gives employees more options when it comes to sustainable commuting. Even providing bikes and helmets, and carpooling parking spots will help employees save money and allow them to participate in sustainable commuting options without spending more money! Secure bike storage and showers are also great incentives to encourage employees to feel comfortable biking to work. Lastly, sustainable commuting information should be readily available to all employees and should be clear, simple and concise. Caitlin highlighted Carpool Month from the TravelWise program, in a quick video which was used to generate buzz around the event in an easily digestible format!

     Another option to reduce high emissions from business transporting is to reduce the overall amount of commuting and business travel. Ken Whyte, President of Quarry, had some interesting insights to reduce carbon emissions from commuting including working remotely, and video conferencing. As many of their clients are in the United States, there is a large pressure for business travel to keep their business relationships face to face. However, by investing in video conferencing and Gsuite, Quarry is able to encourage employees to be the center point for client relationships with multinational companies, while also curbing their travel-based emissions. They also introduced “Curb your Carbon Workdays” where employees are encouraged to work remotely one day a week. Quarry was awarded 3rd place in the Carbon Cleanse competition organized by Regional Sustainability Initiative and received an award for the largest GHG emission reduction, as they removed the equivalent of 100 cars per day off the highway. The company recognizes that they are a leader in sustainable transportation in their community and through their efforts, they will encourage other businesses in the community to follow their lead. These achievements can be extremely attractive to prospective clients and new employees.

     Where North and Quarry showcased how they are moving forward with initiatives internally, Matt Stevens, Vice-President, Electric Vehicles at Geotab, showcased how the organization works outside the company to help other companies transition to electric vehicles (EV). Although EVs are viewed as an intimidating investment by some fleet managers, they are winning more and more because they are better from both the perspective of sustainability and cost. Contrary to popular belief, Matt says in his experience fleet managers don’t hate EVs, they hate risk. So the challenge of electrification becomes one of cost and risk reduction. The Electric Vehicle team at Geotab ensures that their fleets have everything they need to electrify their fleet while de-risking the transition to electric. For fleets with no EVs, EV Suitability Assessments use data from current fleet vehicles to determine how well they would perform (and how much money they would save) if they were converted to electric. For fleets already running EVs, the team ensures that they maintain their vehicle efficiency through driver support, monitoring the state of charge, making sure they don’t run out of range and maximize EV miles to save money on gas. As Matt says “We aim for ‘green and green’”, save emissions and also save money spent on transportation. 

     Each speaker, with varying backgrounds and experiences, came to a similar conclusion: we can transport businesses into a sustainable future!  Written by: Olivia Paxton-Beesley, Communications Team Member Receive future events updates by signing up for our subscription list or checking back at sustainablewr.ca/register.