Keen for Green: Steps towards a net-zero (or better) future
The recently released 2023 federal budget made significant commitments and offered significant incentives to encourage Canadians to go green. If you haven’t already, it’s time that each of us pause and take a serious look at how we can support a greener Earth.
DMCL is no exception and, this Earth Day, we’re proud to share our journey towards becoming net-zero. The truth is, we’re just getting started and we have a long way to go.
Our hope is that by sharing our journey, we can help others overcome their barriers to going green. Keep reading for tips that we’ve learned along the way.
Step 1: Read the Room
It wasn’t hard to get everyone onboard to go green but, the rubber hits the road when you’re faced with costs that don’t directly drive revenue to your bottom line—it’s a hard sell.
There are a growing number of studies that link environmental, social and governance (ESG) plans to an increase in revenue (i.e. ESG and Financial Performance: Uncovering the Relationship by Aggregating Evidence from 1,000 Plus Studies Published between 2015 – 2020) but it’s important to read the room and understand what level of investment is right for your organization.
The truth about going green is that while we desire to make a big impact through one or more large initiatives, small wins can add up to be equally effective.
Step 2: Assess Your Current Situation & Measure Your Carbon Footprint
The first step in any good plan is to evaluate the current situation. To do this, you’ll need to estimate your carbon footprint and complete a workplace sustainability audit.
Estimate your carbon footprint
There are several free and easy-to-use online carbon calculators. By providing information about your organization such as energy use, transportation, waste generation and business travel, the calculator will provide an informed estimate of your carbon footprint.
At DMCL, we chose to use the Business Carbon Calculator by Normative.
Complete a workplace sustainability audit
In addition to calculating our carbon footprint, we also completed a sustainability audit of our workplace—which aspects of our carbon footprint can we control?
An online search for an office sustainability checklist will provide some excellent ideas for items that should be on your list.
If you’re a building tenant (and not the owner), many aspects may be out of your control however, it never hurts to have a conversation with your building manager to suggest or implement a change.
Step 3: Benchmark
After completing our carbon calculation, we learned that in 2022, our estimated total emissions were 1,120 tonnes.
We had no idea what that meant—were we killing it or killing our planet?
To answer this question, we needed to benchmark our CO2 emissions. We tried to find benchmarks—first by industry and size, then geography—but we came up empty-handed.
The one reliable and relevant benchmark we could find was provided by Hannah Ritchie, Max Roser and Pablo Rosado through their research on CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. While there are many factors to consider such as whether a person typically emits more CO2 at home or work, this statistic was the only concrete data we could find to compare.
We learned that in 2021, the average Canadian emitted 14.3 tonnes of CO2.
Using the assumption that our average employee is in the office 40 hours each week, this is equivalent to 23.7% of their time each year, which is equal to 3.37 tonnes of their total CO2 emissions.
Comparatively, if DMCL’s total CO2 is 1,120 tonnes, this is equivalent to 3.73 CO2 per staff per year.
|Workday CO2e for the average Canadian||Workday Co2e for DMCL|
After benchmarking our footprint, we learned that DMCL is above Canada’s per capita CO2e average, and we need to improve. Fortunately, our workplace sustainability audit uncovered many opportunities and provided us with a roadmap for the next phase of our ESG journey.
In 2023, we’re embarking on new initiatives to bring our emissions down. These include:
- A formal plan to minimize paper usage
- Reducing single-use plastics in the office
- Revamping our recycling program
- Setting aside a dedicated percentage of our charitable donations to supporting environmental causes
DMCL’s journey towards becoming net-zero is just beginning, but we hope that sharing our experience and the tips we’ve learned along the way will encourage others to join us in creating a more sustainable future. By following the above steps, you too can identify opportunities for improvement and take actions towards a greener future.
Together, we can make a significant impact on the environment and build a more sustainable world for generations to come.
NOTE:  Hannah Ritchie, Max Roser and Pablo Rosado (2020) – “CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions”. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: ‘https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions‘ [Online Resource]