Sustainability at the David Suzuki Foundation

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(Credit: Erika Rathje)

The David Suzuki Foundation is committed to sustainability — in the work we do, in our offices, and with respect to the well-being of our staff.

Some of our sustainability initiatives to date include:

Choosing green buildings for our offices

  • Our Vancouver head office is located in an energy efficient building heated and cooled by a geothermal system. In 2009 we renovated the interior to include many new "green" features, including: Interface recycled carpet tiles; energy-efficient lighting from Ledalite (which automatically adjusts brightness depending on the weather outside); LED lights in our lobby and hallways provided by Phoster Industries; workstations that are made from recycled materials; windows equipped with low-glare 3M & Titan Window Films that reduce heat and cold transfer by 20 per cent; and water-efficient plumbing from Zurn.
  • Our Montreal office is located in the Centre for Sustainable Development, another highly innovative green building. It features a green roof planted with several native species; a living green wall to clean indoor air; a geothermal system which provides 100 per cent of the air conditioning and 80 per cent of the heating needs; an energy-efficient lighting system that utilizes motion sensors; rainwater recovery which reduces the building's water needs by about 55 per cent; and recycled materials used throughout.

Reducing energy use

  • Our photocopier and printers are energy efficient. We turn them, and our computers, off at night and on weekends. Many of our other appliances are on timers so they automatically shut off.
  • The Foundation purchases Green Electricity Certificates from Bullfrog Power for all of our offices. This electricity comes exclusively from wind and hydro facilities that have been certified as low impact by Environment Canada under its EcoLogo program. In addition, our Toronto and Ottawa offices also purchase green natural gas from Bullfrog Power, which is produced from decaying organic matter in landfills.

Tracking our greenhouse gas emissions

  • Since 2003, our Foundation has conducted an annual inventory of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by our activities, since tracking our emissions is a precursor to managing them. We measure major emission sources such as heating and electricity use, staff commuting, paper use and air travel. When offsetting these emissions, we purchase high-quality, Gold Standard carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are credits from projects such as wind farms that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Read more about our greenhouse gas emissions in our Annual Report.
  • Dr. David Suzuki offsets all of his personal air travel with Gold Standard carbon offsets.

Greening our commutes and reducing air travel

  • Our offices are located in well-served transit corridors, allowing many employees to travel by transit.
  • Most offices also have bike racks, and our Vancouver head office has a shower to make it more convenient for staff to commute to work by walking or biking.
  • The installation of Cisco TelePresenceā„¢ conferencing systems in all of our offices has allowed us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, and save money on travel-related costs.

Choosing green suppliers

  • We choose suppliers that offer sustainable products and services. For example, our Vancouver office uses a courier with hybrid electric vehicles and purchases office supplies from a company that has many green options. We use non-toxic biodegradable cleaning products in our offices, and our Vancouver office features organic hand soap made by David Suzuki's Queen of Green.
  • We purchase fair trade organic coffee from Salt Spring Coffee, as well as organic tea. We also try to source local, organic, seasonal and vegetarian food for our office celebrations.
  • We host green events whenever possible.
  • We buy paper that is 100 per cent post-consumer recycled and/or FSC-certified, and processed chlorine free. This paper is used in our photocopier and printers, in most of our publications, as well as in paper and envelopes mailed to donors and supporters.

Reducing waste

  • We have reduced our paper use by printing fewer publications; for example, our Annual Report is now in PDF format only. And we have eliminated the fax lines in our offices, which has further reduced paper use.
  • We have a comprehensive waste-management system that includes multiple materials recycling, and two of our offices also compost.
  • Our Vancouver and Toronto offices donate old computers, monitors and other electronic equipment for refurbishment, reuse or responsible recycling. We have also partnered with Think Recycle, a service that rewards people who recycle their unwanted electronics.
  • Our Vancouver and Ottawa offices purchase refilled toner cartridges for their printers, and return them when they're empty.
  • We bring our own dishes and cutlery to events to avoid disposable paper and plastic.
  • We have cut back on our newspaper subscriptions, and our Ottawa office has gone to an all-digital format.
  • We drink tap water rather than purchase bottled water.

Promoting the well-being of our employees

  • To improve indoor air quality and the health of our employees, our Vancouver office has a fragrance-free policy, plenty of indoor plants and a photocopier that uses wax-based ink rather than toner.
  • Employees grow organic veggies on our Vancouver office's patio garden, for use by our salad club and soup club.
  • We have regular "lunch and learns" that focus on topics of interest to our employees, including health and nutrition.
  • We encourage work-life balance with a 4-day compressed workweek and by allowing many staff to work from home.

What's next?

DSF staff worked with The Natural Step Canada to develop a strategic sustainability plan for the Foundation. The plan, which was completed in the spring of 2013, covers all aspects of our organization, including operations, employee well-being, projects, and more. We are now in the process of implementing this plan, and believe it will further drive sustainability-inspired innovation at the Foundation, while also delivering many benefits such as cost savings.

Please revisit this page in future months for updates on our efforts to become even more sustainable.