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Sustainable workplaces Paul van der Werf Overview Making sense of sustainability? What are our environmental impacts? How can we make our work activities more sustainable? Let’s leave today with a few practical ideas we can incorporate right away. sustainability

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sustainable workplaces

Sustainable workplaces

Paul van der Werf

  • Making sense of sustainability?
  • What are our environmental impacts?
  • How can we make our work activities more sustainable?
  • Let’s leave today with a few practical ideas we can incorporate right away.
  • We hear lots of jargon like:
    • Carbon foot print
    • Green
    • Environmentally friendly
    • Sustainable
  • “...meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
  • Brundtland Commission, 1987
what is environmental impact
What is Environmental impact ?
  • Our impact comes down to one simple concept and that is consumption
  • “The act or process of consuming.”
what is environmental impact7
What is Environmental impact ?
  • As a result of obtaining what we consume
  • As a result of the wastes generated through consumption
in more practical terms
In more practical terms
  • Building
  • Manufacturing
  • Heating/Cooling
  • Transportation
  • Chemicals
  • Living
  • Others?
distilling sources of environmental impact
Distilling sources of Environmental impact
  • Energy usage
  • Water usage
  • Material usage
  • Waste generation
  • At home we consume about 2,500 kwh per year
  • One 100 watt light bulb on for 24 hours uses about 2.5 kwh
  • One Compact Fluorescent Bulb uses about 0.5 kwh
  • Energy is required to make electricity. Carbon dioxide and pollution result.
  • Residents consume about 250 litres person every day
  • Think about what that means throughout the year

Volume of 250

Filling up tank 4 times

per day

  • In 1996 Canada’s population was 29 million
  • About 1,500,000 litres/year per resident
  • Of that a little less than 10% or about 135,000 litres/year was for personal use
  • 370 litres/day
  • Residents throw away about 250 kilograms of waste per person per year

Weight of 250

  • In London has decreased since 1990
  • In Canada continues to increase
  • Business waste increasing even faster
quantity vs quality
Quantity VS Quality
  • Need to think about consumption in terms of:
  • What impact does the quality of our consumption have on the environment
    • Pesticides versus no pesticides
    • Green power versus conventional power
  • Quality is the impact of our consumption beyond the amount of resources used – manifest as pollution and other impacts
environmental impact outcomes
Environmental impact outcomes
  • Poor resource use-financial implications
  • Poor resource use-less able to support the population
  • Pollution-health impacts
why sustainability at work
Why Sustainability at work?
  • There are risks involved with continuing with the status quo:
    • Exposure to risk of increased environmental legislation (eg. carbon taxes)
    • Exposure to risk of increased cost of natural resources (e.g. rising cost of water and electricity)
    • Damage to brand, or consumer backlash
reducing environmental impact at work
Reducing Environmental impact at work
  • What is our impact on the environment at work?
  • What can we do to reduce our impact at work?
environmental impact at work
Environmental impact at work
  • Impact can be split into two main areas
    • From buildings and process
    • From workers
  • Impact into air, water and earth
what we can do
What we can do?
  • Understand that our environmental impact is very closely tied to our consumption
  • Develop a Sustainability Plan to reduce environmental impact and help guide activities
  • It includes benchmarking, planning, implementation and review
sustainability plan
Sustainability plan
  • Develop a Sustainability Plan to help guide activities
  • Requires top down and bottom up participation
  • Management – recognize importance
  • Staff- fully participate in opportunities
  • Embrace change
consumption is tied to money
Consumption is tied to money
  • Everything we consume costs money
  • Everything we don’t consume costs money
  • We have largely been taught to ignore this
  • There is a greater appreciation of this right now
smart consumption
“Smart Consumption”

We need to engage in what I like to call smart consumption. This is a thought process where we think about the environmental impacts of our purchases in three distinct stages

1 . What is the environmental impact of making this product;

2. What is the environmental impact of using this product; and

3. What is the environmental impact after this product has lost its usefulness.

  • Energy efficient construction
  • Business energy audits.
  • Minimize energy use during business hours and after hours
  • Encourage alternative forms of transportation
  • Where practical encourage other forms of work – such as telecommuting
  • Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council. web page with some good information for residents (and business)
    • Review processes to make sure water is being use efficiently
  • Reduce water usage and water contamination
  • Replace water guzzling toilets with an efficient 6 litre or dual flush toilet – rebates available
  • Toxics out of the drain
  • Take advantage of programs to deal with waste
  • Maximize their use



quality of consumption
Quality of consumption
  • Previous ideas focus on quantity
  • Quality focuses on composition of consumption. How polluting are processes?
  • e.g. Greening of Cancer Prevention (Source: Toronto Public Health)
    • Clean production
    • Toxics use reduction
    • Green chemistry
    • Safe substitution
  • Sustainability relates to managing the quantity and quality of consumption
  • Managing consumption can have beneficial economic, social and of course environment outcomes
  • All businesses from small to large can participate
  • Many small steps result in large collective beneficial impacts.
sources of information used
Sources of information used
  • The Clear Network
  • Stats Canada
  • Environment Canada
thank you

Paul van der Werf

My green workplace