Celebrating Local Environmental Leaders:

Sustainable Waterloo Region to recognize 41 local organizations committed to reducing environmental impact.

Submitted by: Sustainable Waterloo Region

On April 12, 2012, the Waterloo Inn will play host to an event celebrating the who’s who of organizations across our community working to position Waterloo Region as a leader in business environmental sustainability.

The event is the 3rd Annual Evening of Recognition, put on by Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR), a local organization that is advancing the environmental sustainability of organizations across our region through collaboration. The evening will highlight the achievements of 41 businesses taking part in the organization’s Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI), a program which facilitates voluntary target-setting and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in organizations across Waterloo Region.

The event will mark the launch of Sustainable Waterloo Region’s 2011 Report, chronicling the past year over which RCI members committed to reduce 42,514 tonnes of C02e – the equivalent of taking 9552 cars off the road.

“This year, we really wanted to focus on telling the stories behind the data, with a particular emphasis on the day-to-day sustainability leaders within RCI member organizations: the people that are spearheading change.” says Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Executive Director, Mike Morrice. “While the numbers are key to quantitatively measuring the impact of RCI members across Waterloo Region, the really exciting aspect of this work lies in the innovative and creative approaches that these individuals are taking to realize their ambitious sustainability goals.”

Innovative engagement is definitely a theme underpinning this year’s report. In 2011, Regional Carbon Initiative member Wilfrid Laurier University submetered all of the campus’ 30 major buildings to individually measure the electricity, water and natural gas usage of each building. This information populates a dashboard of real time consumption data which is publically accessible to the Laurier community, allowing the university to educate and engage both the campus and general public on both the challenges and opportunities faced in Laurier’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact.

“Our hope, with the implementation of this software, is that we begin to foster a culture of sustainability here at Laurier,” says Claire Bennett, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Sustainability Coordinator. “By implementing initiatives such as energy reduction competitions between residences, we are making strong headway towards institutionalizing sustainability into the university in a way that engages both staff and students in fun and interesting ways.”

In keeping with the theme of creative solutions to sustainability challenges, Athena Software, a small firm providing leading-edge client information management software solutions, found that leasing office space made it difficult to collect information and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In response, they developed an “environmental clause” in their lease which allows them to conduct transparent reporting of energy consumption.

“Sustainability efforts from member organizations span the gamut from fostering green teams, to installing solar panels, to restructuring policies that embed sustainability in an organization’s core strategy. We’re thrilled to be facilitating these exciting changes, happening right here in Waterloo Region. Getting at the heart of these tangible actions is what we want to highlight through this year’s report and Evening of Recognition,” says Morrice. “Through sharing these diverse stories, we hope to show that making a commitment to sustainability is realistic for any organization – no matter the size of your team or the industry in which you operate.”

The Evening of Recognition will welcome hundreds of community members from across Waterloo Region and will feature presentations from Diane Stanley-Horn, Director of Business Development at Athena Software, Berry Vrbanovic, City Councillor with the City of Kitchener, John Neufeld and Colin MacInotsh from House of Friendship, and Elena Wiersma, Architect, Team Leader Integrated Design, Associate and Chair of the Sustainability Advisory Committee at WalterFedy, among others.

The event will be held on Thursday, April 12, 2012 from 5:00 – 7:00pm in the Viennese Ballroom at the Waterloo Inn, 475 King St. North, Waterloo.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend this free event. For more information and to register, visit www.sustainablewaterlooregion.ca/register.

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