Vancity achieved its goal to become carbon neutral in 2008, two years ahead of schedule, according to the company’s 2008-2009 accountability report. Since 2007, the credit union has reduced its carbon footprint by seven percent, and exceeded its 2009 target of a carbon footprint of 6,000 tonnes or less.
Here are key environmental highlights from the report.
While total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased slightly from 5202 metric tonnes in 2008 to 5100 metric tonnes in 2009, emissions from premises energy use rose from 1530 metric tonnes in 2008 to 1594 metric tonnes in 2009.
The company attributes the emissions rate to a higher emissions factor (average emissions of CO2 associated with a unit of electrical energy in BC), which increased from 22 in 2008 to 28 in 2009.
The company focuses its GHG emission reduction efforts in four areas: employee commuting, premises energy use, paper use, and business travel. Emissions from employee commuting and premises energy use account for the majority of its emissions at 44 and 31 percent, respectively.
Vancity reached its target of employees who use sustainable transportation to and from work at least 20 percent higher than the percent of Metro Vancouver residents who use sustainable transportation. In 2009, 55.5 percent of employees used sustainable transportation to get to work, in contrast to 33 percent of Metro Vancouver residents.
Emissions from business-related travel have dropped by approximately 26 percent over the two-year period.
A key 2009 initiative that will help Vancity reduce its emissions is the installation of power-saving software that automatically puts computers into standby mode when they are not being used. This software is expected to save about 850,000 kilowatt hours of energy each year.
The company also expects an estimated annual savings of around 120,000 kilowatt hours of energy from its partnership with BC Hydro on a new PowerSmart initiative to virtualize a number of servers in its data center.
Vancity’s total premises energy use has remained stable since 2007. Vancity expects several initiatives including the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Vancity Centre, and allowing some employees to work from home to help reduce energy use.
Other measures being evaluated to avoid or reduce employee commuting and business travel include the use of video conferencing.
Vancity also has decreased its water consumption from 41 million liters in 2008 to 39 million liters in 2009, which the company attributes to water-saving initiatives such as retrofitting its offices with low-flow automatic shut-off faucets in 2007 and 2008.
The credit union has reduced the amount of paper it purchases from 404 tonnes in 2007 to 260 tonnes in 2009. The company also increased the percentage of waste recycled by eight percent to 55 percent.
Vancity has set a goal to increase the amount of waste diverted from landfill and/or recycled to 60 percent by 2010.