Teknion, Earthcycle Packaging and the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority were among the recipients of this year’s Globe Awards for Environmental Excellence, presented during the Environment and Energy Conference (EECO) in Toronto on June 20.
Teknion, a well-known designer, manufacturer and marketer of office systems and office furniture products, received the Globe Award in the corporate competitiveness category. This award is presented to a corporation whose commitment to environmental excellence and proven record of environmental stewardship have contributed materially to its economic competitiveness.
The agent for Teknion’s environmental programs has been its GreenWorks team, a cross-functional group whose efforts led to ISO 14001 certification for all Teknion facilities – a first in its industry. The work of the GreenWorks team and the implementation of the Environmental Management System (EMS) specified by ISO 14001 has made the company more conscious of the many opportunities for reducing its environmental footprint.
Teknion’s 2007 Environmental Report details its success in doing so. For example, in 2006, the company diverted 85 per cent of all waste generated at its facilities from landfill, a total of 10,500 tonnes. Over the past four years (2003-2006), the amount of waste sent to landfill has declined by 56 per cent per $100,000 of sales.
Also during this period, Teknion reduced its natural gas usage by 39 per cent per $100,000 of sales and its electricity consumption by 26 per cent per $100,000 of sales, with corresponding reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2006 alone, the amount of natural gas saved was equivalent to removing the carbon dioxide emissions of approximately 600 cars.
In recent years, Teknion has introduced Design for the Environment (DfE) into its operation, integrating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment principles. The company has since formalized DfE into a set of nine guidelines that have become integral considerations to the initial outline for all new products. By designing with production and environmental impact in mind, Teknion has made DfE the foundation program for all of its sustainability initiatives. In addition to ISO 14001 and the federal government’s Environmental Choice Program (EcoLogo), the company adheres to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and LEED programs and to Greenguard, an indoor air quality certification program designed to quantify low-emitting materials and products.
This includes establishing acceptable standards for interior products and testing protocols to improve indoor air quality
for employees and customers. Teknion was the first office furniture manufacturer to attain Greenguard certification for all major product lines, and is also the first and only office furniture manufacturer to have all major products and manufacturing facilities in Canada EcoLogo-certified.
The company continues to emission-test its products to ensure that all of them receive Greenguard low-emission certification. Production techniques aimed at achieving Greenguard certification include using water-based adhesives and stains, powder-coated finishes that emit no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and textiles with low VOCs.
Teknion’s initiatives are documented in its latest Environment Report, available on-line at
Other finalists for the Corporate Competitiveness Award were AMEC (AMEC Americas), Home Depot Canada and the Vancity Group.
The Award for Technology Innovation and Application went to Earthcycle Packaging, a still-new Vancouver company. Founded in 2003 by Shannon Boase, Earthcycle introduced its sustainable line of compostable packaging products only in November 2005. Since then, Earthcycle has secured a strong and increasingly visible presence in the North American marketplace as part of the solution to eliminate plastics and their harmful environmental impacts. Its packaging products are currently being used by retailers such as Wal-Mart (which has set a goal of zero waste by 2010), Wild Oats, Whole Foods, and Loblaws.
Its lightweight, yet sturdy containers are made of palm fiber, a renewable resource previously considered an agricultural waste product of the Malaysian palm oil industry. Earthcycle’s packages can be used to contain products for which recycled containers have until now not been regarded as acceptable, such as meat, poultry and seafood, fresh produce and prepared take-out food.
Not only does Earthcycle’s packaging make beneficial use of a waste material, diverting it from landfill and/or incineration, the material is readily compostable and will naturally biodegrade in a backyard composter or community or industrial compostiing facility. The palm fibre material is a renewable resource and its long strands add to tensile strength, producing strong, durable packaging. In addition to being environmentally friendly, Earthcycle’s packaging is cost-competitive with other forms of packaging such as plastic or pressed fibre.
More information is available on the Earthcycle Web site, www.earthcycle.com
Other finalists in this category included EnviroTower and Remsoft.
Mercer Investment Consulting received the Capital Markets Award for Sustainable Investment and Banking. Mercer’s Responsible Investment (RI) business was honoured for its dedication to developing intellectual capital about the integration of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations within investment decision-making. This reflects the belief that these factors can have an impact on financial performance.
Mercer formed the RI business unit in 2004 to give greater structure to its responsible investment consulting activities. Working with clients in Canada and abroad, specialists in this group help to develop and implement RI programs and policies, select investment managers and monitor performance within an ESG framework.
The firm worked as a consultant to the United Nations on the development of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), launched in late April 2006. More than 70 experts and over 20 of the world’s largest institutional investors developed the six Principles and 35 corresponding possible actions investors can use to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues into their investment decisions. Since the launch, more than 50 investors representing some $4 trillion in managed assets have given their support to the Principles. More information is available on Mercer’s Web site, www.merceric.com
Other finalists in this category included Innovest Strategic Value Advisors and Yachnin & Associates and Sustainable Investment Group.
The Award for Excellence in Urban Sustainability was presented to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, or TransLink, for its Vancouver Transit Centre (VTC). TransLink, the regional transportation authority for the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), opened the environmentally advanced VTC in September 2006.
Commenting on the award, TransLink chair Malcolm Brodie pointed out, “VTC is home to our zero-emission electric trolley buses and our construction incorporates recycled regional materials, Energy Star roof membranes, and lots of natural lighting in the office and shop areas. We will use this design as a reference for future building projects, such as the Maintenance and Transportation Training Centre currently being planned for Maple Ridge.”
VTC’s design and construction also includes a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant. Using ultrafiltration, the system uses an oil-water separation system – a must for a large garage operation – that filters out particles down to 0.02 microns before discharging treated wastewater into the sanitary sewer system.
In addition to being emission-free, the new ele
ctric-motor trolley buses, which began arriving last fall, are approximately one third more energy
-efficient than the generation of trolley buses being phased out.
TransLink and its operating companies and contractors provide a full range of regional public transit services, including buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, West Coast Express and HandyDART and the Albion Ferry. It is responsible for transportation planning and funding in the GVRD as well as maintenance and rehabilitation of TransLink-owned bridges, and it runs the AirCare vehicle emissions testing program. More information is available on the TransLink Web site, www.translink.bc.ca
Other finalists in this category were Diamond and Schmitt Architects Incorporated (for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology) and HOK (for its Toronto studio and office). More information on the Globe Awards is available on the Awards Web site, www.theglobeawards.ca