From the Blog
June 12, 2013
Much of the discussion surrounding long-term environmental and economic sustainability has focused on the implementation of large scale regulations. Often lost in the discussion are the immediate actions that local governments can make to ensure long-term economic viability, while simultaneously contributing to long-term environmental sustainability.
One of the most important ways in which local governments can engage in environmentally sustainable practices is by implementing green procurement policies. Green procurement refers to the practice of ensuring that environmental considerations are taken into account when deciding what products and services to purchase.
Municipal governments across Canada have an important role in the development of green procurement policies. Canadian municipal and regional governments spend nearly $74 billion on goods and services every year with Niagara purchasing $500,000 worth of goods and services. This makes local and regional governments one of the largest and most powerful purchasers of goods and services in Canada. By initiating sustainable purchasing practices, municipal and regional governments have the ability to influence consumer behaviour. As a result of municipal purchasing power, municipalities play a key role in establishing a ‘green’ marketplace. When local governments implement green procurement policies it demonstrates significant support for those businesses and service providers that carry out their business with environmental sustainability in mind. Sherri Watson, Environmental Management Consultant at the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, states “[g]reen procurement should be a policy of all governments, including municipal governments. Their purchasing power can stimulate creation of environmentally benign products by ensuring there’s a market for those products”.
A fantastic example of the benefits of green procurement can be seen in Richmond, British Columbia. Richmond has done more to implement sustainable procurement practices than any other municipal government in Canada, and the economic benefits have been significant. As a result of including environmental requirements in municipal purchases Richmond has been able to ensure environmental sustainability in the community, while at the same time generating new revenues and reducing expenditures. Since 2000 Richmond has been saving $85,000 a year on electricity costs by simply replacing incandescent traffic lights with LED bulbs. Overall energy savings are estimated at nearly $500,000 a year as a result of simply switching to energy saving lights in city buildings. Aside from the financial savings, Natural Resources Canada notes that Richmond has reduced carbon output by nearly 1440 tonnes. Richmond demonstrates that simple changes in purchasing can result in large financial savings as well as incredible carbon offsets.
By including environmental requirements in purchasing goods and services municipal and regional governments have the ability to contribute to a economically and environmentally sustainable community with minimal effort. As Richmond, BC demonstrates green procurement policies are an easy and effective way to dramatically reduce municipal expenditures.
June 6, 2013
Evening of Recognition - In Review
After taking a week to recuperate, refresh and review, the NSI team can proudly say that our 2nd annual Evening of Recognition exceeded our expectations; the night was a huge success!
The success of the event could not have been achieved without the involvement of a number of people and organizations. We are grateful to have such a strong support system from our Carbon Project partners, and the community around us.
With over 65 people in attendance, the networking session seemed to thrive, not only because of the large number of attendees but also because of the array of organizations they represented.
Both the MC Sam Bellhouse & guest speaker Liza Horowitz were key highlights of the night. Sam was entertaining and put a great spin on the evening, while Liza did a great job connecting with the audience by pinpointing local organizations and how they are succeeding in their sustainable strategies.
Awards were handed out to three outstanding partners:
- AOS received the award for “Most Engaged Partner”, for the notable commitment and participation throughout the entire organization.
- Niagara Gage Ina Grafton Village received the award for “Most Impactful Initiative” for the organization’s Organic Waste Diversion program.
- The third award was given to Niagara College for “Greatest Progress” for the strides the College has made in incorporating sustainability throughout operations, policies, procedures, and employee and student engagement, with a special focus on their Wine Visitor and Educational centre, being the first carbon neutral building of it’s kind in Canada.
Although these three organizations were mentioned, NSI proudly outlines, in the 2nd Annual Report, all of our Carbon Project partners and the work they have done over the past year towards creating a more environmentally sustainable and economically thriving Niagara community.
As the event’s coordinator, I could not be more happy with how the evening turned out. From attendance, to venue, to attendee feedback, the night was a total success.
Now we begin planning for our next season of events, so stay tuned to our blog for details on what’s to come!
Carlo Gavazzi Inc. presents at the Digital Technology workshop
Visit: eveningofrecognition.eventbrite.ca to Register!
Visit: wwwcagbctoronto.org to Register!
Alison Braithwaite, Director of Environmental Performance, Walker Industries
NSI Educational Forum: Profitable Sustainability
The NSI Team
The Carbon Project
The Carbon Project is a voluntary program whereby partners voluntarily commit to managing and reducing their organizational carbon emissions. The Carbon Project was designed by experts to maximize environmental responsibility and business returns for NSI partners.
The Carbon Project provides NSI partner organizations with services, tools and networks to facilitate a reduction in carbon (or GHG) emissions. NSI will contribute to the knowledge required for its partner organizations to begin the reduction process through workshops, forums, informational updates and other services.
Joining the Carbon Project
Partners will be afforded the freedom of choosing two different carbon management paths.
Check it Out
Modelled after Sustainable Waterloo, NSI is an organization based in the Niagara Region focused on improving environmental and economic performance by engaging the community to reduce carbon emissions, enhance sustainability and improve economic performance.
Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI) is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate that connects government, industry, community and academia to advance the environmental and economic performance in the Niagara Region. The organization consists of senior level professionals from the energy, environment, government and academic sectors, as well as recent post-graduate alumni, graduate students, undergraduate students and other community volunteers.