3.0 Sustainable Development Strategy Results
This section provides highlights of the results achieved in 2007-2008 against the implementation of the:
- National SD action plan activities and targets; and,
Additional details on results achieved against activities and targets during the period can be found in Appendices D and E respectively, and Appendix F provides details on EMP results.
3.1 Goal 1: "Reduce the effects of our operations on land, air and water"
Goal 1 of the national SD action plan is focused on the Agency's environmental aspects. For 2007-2008, the first year of implementation of our 2007-2010 SD strategy, we focused mainly on research and establishing new baselines as the bases for future action. Some highlights follow.
Solid waste has impacts beyond the landfill. When waste decomposes it creates carbon dioxide and methane gas, two important greenhouse gases (GHGs). The 2006-2007 solid waste audit of 29 priority facilities showed that CRA priority facilities generate almost 700 tonnes of solid waste per year. During 2007-2008, the Agency developed a methodology for estimating GHGs released from our disposal of solid waste. We applied the methodology to our 2006-2007 solid waste audits of our priority facilities. The results showed that we avoided generating more than 2,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents from the 2,700 tonnes of solid waste that we diverted from landfill.
We also conducted an internal survey through the SD network to update information on the number of waste management programs in CRA facilities. It was reported that the "No Waste" program has been implemented in 88 CRA facilities (74%). For cost efficiency, actual waste audits are conducted every three years. Our next waste audit is scheduled for 2010.
To address solid waste further upstream, the Agency included environmental specifications in two of two strategic sourcing contracts issued during the period. In addition, we developed a draft management plan to expand the scope of green procurement to include information technology products (i.e., computer hardware and software). Work will continue in 2008-2009 to implement the management plan.
Total spending on green products during the period accounted for 11.4% of total product spending, exceeding our target of 10% for fiscal year 2007-2008. Figure 1 shows the trend in the percentage of green product purchases since 2004-2005. The reduction in percentage of green products purchased in 2007-2008 is partly explained by a fall in the proportion of total product purchases that had green alternatives.
Figure 1: Green Product Purchases as a Percent of Total Product Purchases
Multi-purpose Office Paper
The CRA is a large consumer of paper. By reducing the amount of paper that we consume the Agency conserves natural resources and reduces its operating costs. During 2007-2008, we enhanced the scope of our data collection by developing a methodology to estimate paper consumption using the CRA's procurement tracking systems. This step allowed us to expand our baseline to include all three major sources of the CRA's paper consumption: multi-purpose office paper, paper used in CRA printing systems, and paper printed in external printing shops. The results showed that in 2007-2008, the CRA bought the equivalent of 1.2 billion sheets of paper used in the form of envelopes, publications, and forms. We will annually measure results against this expanded baseline.
Efforts to reduce the amount of multi-purpose office paper consumed per employee continued. In 2007-2008, paper use per employee fell by 40 sheets or 0.7% to 5,721 sheets per employee. This compares to 5,761 sheets per employee in the previous year. Figure 2 shows the effect of paper reduction efforts on the Agency's paper purchases. For practical reasons, office paper purchased by the Agency is used as a proxy indicator for the amount of paper consumed.
Figure 2: Multi-purpose Office Paper Consumption
CRA Business Travel
The CRA approach to sustainable business travel is to first establish a baseline, promote sustainable business travel options to employees, and measure impact over time. We took initial steps towards this target by assessing the data required to establish a greenhouse gas baseline for business travel. We determined that existing CRA information systems contained much of the data required to establish the baseline. Information analysis was in progress at the end of the period, and work will continue to finalize the baseline in 2008-2009.
To reduce its GHG emissions from its fleet of vehicles, the CRA purchased three alternative fuel capable vehicles. The Agency's fleet profile can be seen in Figure 3. We also worked with Natural Resources Canada to develop an E10 promotion/ communication package to remind CRA vehicle operators and fleet managers to use ethanol-blended fuels in CRA vehicles where available. The Sustainable Business Travel course was also offered to vehicle operators during the period.
Figure 3: CRA Fleet Profile for 2007-2008
We took additional steps to address the CRA's GHG emissions with the development of a new EMP for energy conservation. The initial scoping research and investigations determined the areas that offered the most promise for energy reduction. The CRA is a tenant in all the facilities that it occupies, and therefore does not have direct control over base-energy used for heating and cooling. We will focus our energy conservation efforts on influencing employee behaviour vis-à-vis their use of energy-powered equipment such as computers, photocopiers, and task lighting. We identified priority facilities for implementation of energy conservation initiatives, which are scheduled for implementation in 2008-2009. Figure 4 shows the average percentage of energy used by auxiliary equipment in commercial and institutional buildings in 2005.[Footnote 4]
Figure 4: Typical Plug Load Contributions in Commercial and Institutional Buildings
The Agency continued its work to prevent the release of hazardous materials into our environment. One area of focus was electronic waste. Results from a preliminary scan of CRA IT disposal practices showed regional variances depending on provincial/ municipal regulations. Although competing priorities did not allow a thorough assessment, work in this area will continue in 2008-2009.
We completed research activities on battery disposal practices, including the potential benefits and risks associated with the implementation of a battery recycling program in CRA facilities. The study confirmed that the risks associated with battery-recycling programs are relatively low, and that they can be managed with a reasonable level of effort. Work on developing guidelines for battery recycling programs at the CRA will continue in 2008-2009.
A total of 11 national SD action plan activities in support of goal 1 were scheduled for delivery in 2007-2008, however one was deferred to 2009-2010. The average completion percentage for the 10 activities implemented was 81%. A total of 46 EMP targets were implemented in support of goal 1 during 2007-2008. Of these 37 (80%) were met, four (9%) were mostly met, another four (9%) were not met, and one target was dropped.
3.1.1 Conclusion - Goal 1
We made progress on reducing waste and ensuring the efficient use of resources during the period. We enhanced our ability to measure and manage the environmental effects of our solid waste. We improved our ability to quantify our paper consumption, paper savings, and continued the downward trend in office paper consumption. Our ongoing efforts to green our strategic sourcing contracts will help to increase the supply of green products and improve our future green procurement and waste diversion performance. We investigated battery recycling practices for adoption by the CRA, and maintained our halocarbon inventory system. While we did not complete planned work to establish the baseline for business travel, and to investigate disposal practices for end-of-life electronic equipment, we are well positioned to complete these activities in 2008-2009. Through these efforts, among others, we took a due diligent approach to complying with environmental legislation and regulations, and helped to improve environmental and health outcomes on behalf of our employees and Canadians.
3.2 Goal 2: "Demonstrate sustainable service of tax and benefit programs"
CRA results show a growing number of Canadians are choosing electronic filing as their method of choice for filing their tax returns. The CRA continued to promote the use of its electronic services for tax filing during 2007-2008, resulting in an increase of about 3% for individual (T1) and corporate (T2) tax returns respectively. Leveraging our information technology solutions allows us to serve Canadians better, and avoid purchasing the paper that otherwise would have been used to print tax forms and associated information products.
To demonstrate environmental benefits that accrue from electronic services delivery, we assessed the paper savings from the electronic filing of individual (T1) tax returns between 1990 and 2007. The results showed that about 107 million out of 402 million (27%) of individual (T1) tax returns were filed using the CRA's EFILE and NETFILE online filing systems. Our research shows that the total estimated saving from electronic filing during this period was 4.3 billion sheets of paper. This reduction is equivalent to approximately 500,000 trees or a pile of paper 430 km high. This avoided emissions of about 54,000 tonnes of GHG emissions and consumption of 800 million BTUs of energy. Figure 5 shows the trend in use of electronic services for filing T1 tax returns.
Figure 5: Trends in Individual (T1) Electronic Tax Filing (1990-2007)
SD Integration and Communication
We updated the sustainability criteria for partnership arrangements that are included in our draft guidance documents for preparing Memoranda of Understanding and Letters of Intent. The criteria are designed to guide the inclusion of social, economic, and environmental considerations when preparing partnership agreements. A key inclusion is the link to the sustainability criteria that is posted on our internal SD website. Additional work to refine and promote the SD criteria will be undertaken in 2008-2009.
To increase the Canadians' understanding of the Agency's commitment to SD we prepared and included SD information in the CRA corporate brand messages. These messages will be used strategically in communication with taxpayers, clients, partners, and employees.
Following Agency-wide consultations, the offices of the Minister and the Commissioner adopted the practice of duplex printing of correspondence to reduce further the CRA's paper consumption, and to signal our commitment to good corporate citizenship.
A total of six national SD action plan activities supporting goal 2 were scheduled for delivery in 2007-2008. The average completion percentage for these activities was 84%. A total of two EMP targets supported goal 2 during the period and both were met.
3.2.1 Conclusion - Goal 2
The online delivery of our tax and benefit programs clearly demonstrate that environmental protection and operational efficiency go hand in hand. Our investment in this area has allowed the Agency to save the cost of 4.3 billion sheets of paper for the individual (T1) program alone. Our SD criteria guide will better facilitate the integration of SD considerations in partnership agreements, and allow us to engage external partners to meet mutual SD objectives. Lastly, we took steps to provide Canadians with information on how the CRA is taking concrete action to protect their environment.
3.3 Goal 3: "All employees apply sustainable development in their jobs"
SD in Performance Agreements
Leadership on SD makes a difference. In 2007-2008, at total of 89% of the CRA's executive cadre (EC) included SD in their performance agreement. This compares to 68% in 2006-2007. A substantial portion of our management/gestion (MG) group of managers also included SD in their agreements. However due to difficulties with the information system, the reliability of results for MGs could not be verified and was unavailable for this report.
The Agency also investigated including SD in employee performance agreements. We developed tools to help SD Coordinators promote employee SD clauses, and to enable managers and employees draft SD clauses that are appropriate to their job function. At the end of the period, stakeholder consultations were ongoing.
To further engage our MG management group, we delivered SD training to a total of 360 managers at 18 sessions of the MG learning program. In addition, we included SD content in a number of MG forums, and provided SD information to participants in the EC learning sessions.
Our ongoing efforts to engage our employees through national environmental and SD special events, online information and other vehicles are producing results. A 2007 survey indicated that 89% of employees were aware of the SD efforts in the Agency. The Agency's target is 95% by 2010. Of those who indicated awareness, 94% reported having reduced paper consumption, 92% having increased recycling, and 91% having reduced their energy consumption (see Figure 6).
Figure 6: SD Awareness Among CRA Employees Between 2004 and 2007
(Target is 95% by 2010)
To engage our people in GHG emissions reduction efforts, the Agency took initial steps to examine the commuting habits of our employees. A survey showed that a majority (47%) used single occupancy vehicles to get to and from work (Figure 7).
Figure 7: CRA Employee Commuting Habits
1 Modal share is the percentage of total travelers using a particular mode of transportation.
The employee commuting survey also found that during 2007, CRA employees made over 20 million commuting trips, traveled over 360 million kilometers when commuting to and from work, and produced over 64,000 tonnes of GHGs and 2,800 tonnes of air pollution. With the baseline established, the CRA will develop and promote employee commuting initiatives at selected facilities and over time, measure changes against the baseline.
A total of eight national SD action plan activities supporting goal 3 were scheduled for delivery in 2007-2008. The average completion percentage for these activities was 90%. A total of 31 EMP targets supported goal 3, of these 22 were met, three were mostly met, five were not met, and one was dropped.
3.3.1 Conclusion - Goal 3
Leadership on SD within CRA management continues to be strong, as demonstrated by the uptake of performance agreement clauses. This management support along with awareness programs and support for action at the grassroots has resulted in high levels of awareness of SD and engagement in SD practices. While we are encouraged by our results, we also recognize that awareness alone does not necessarily translate into action. During the remainder of our strategy we will be exploring additional opportunities to develop audience-specific training and awareness tools.
3.4 Goal 4: "Use modern systems that support and maintain sustainable development"
SD Network Support
Support mechanisms, including organizational structures and tools, help to ensure that information flows and decision-making for SD are effective and efficient. Our network of SD coordinators, SD representatives, and their committees play a key role in implementing the Agency's SD program and sensitizing employees to their SD responsibilities. Figure 8 shows the increase in SD awareness across CRA regions between 2004 and 2007.
Figure 8: SD Awareness Among CRA Employees
To ensure effective communication, quarterly Network meetings were held between the SD division and SD network members. This was supplemented by one-on-one meetings between regional coordinators and SD division staff.
To further strengthen the SD network, we increased the job levels for regional SD coordinators and formalized SD expectations for branches. We also prepared a guide for developing and maintaining SD committees. The guide will be released to the SD network in 2008-2009. There was a high rate of turnover of representation within the SD network during the year, with seven SD coordinators and two SD representatives being replaced. The SD division provided orientation and training sessions to all new SD network members to equip them to effectively discharge their SD responsibilities.
We prepared and released semi-annual feedback reports. These reports allow branches and regions to compare their SD performance against CRA national SD averages on a number of environmental, SD and program management indicators. While still in the early stages of development, early feedback on the report cards was positive and will be used to improve the reports over time. There was a significant increase in the completion level of Branch and Region SD action plans - increasing from 41% in 2006-2007 to 79% in 2007-2008.
The SD division conducted an annual satisfaction survey of SD network members to assess their level of satisfaction with the services offered by the SD division. The division received an average rating of 3.9 out of 5 or 78%. There was marginal increase in the levels of satisfaction in five of the six surveyed criteria. Satisfaction with performance reporting fell marginally. We anticipate that the release of the revised Performance Reporting (PR) Tool will augment this rating. Table 1 outlines the rating received by the SD division in the six areas that were surveyed.
Table 1: SD Network Rating of SD Division Services for 2007-2008:
|Area||Average Rating (out of 5)|
Training and awareness
Provision of information/guidance
Performance reporting process
Performance reporting template
The SD division will continue to respond to the concerns of the SD network in all identified areas.
Integrating SD at the corporate policy level has the potential to have positive influence early on in the decision making process. As part of its ongoing efforts to improve its operational efficiency, the Agency began a process to renew its approach for developing internal (i.e., corporate) policies. To ensure consideration of SD during the development of corporate policy instruments, representations were made to have SD considerations included in relevant guidance documents. In support of these efforts we developed and released a sustainability criteria guide to the CRA intranet web site and will be working to promote its use in 2008-2009.
SD Report Card
In our ongoing efforts to incorporate SD into the way we do business, we conducted research on how corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting could be adopted by the CRA. The report Canada Revenue Agency and Corporate Social Responsibility: Forward Options examined the Agency's long term business strategy, current requirements for SD reporting among federal government departments and agencies, expectations of the CESD, and influential CSR standards (e.g., Global Reporting Initiative). Although much information was gained from the research, more information and analysis is needed to determine appropriate CSR indicators for the CRA. Work scheduled for 2008-2009 includes follow-up work on existing data sources, data quality, and the selection of the appropriate, material indicators for a public sector agency.
SD Program Management
We held three of four scheduled quarterly meetings between the SD division and the SD Steering Committee. The Committee took steps to ensure its accountability by adopting a refreshed terms of reference that includes performance measures and indicators, and specific internal and external roles for the SD champions.
To make our quarterly reporting process more efficient, we enlisted the services of an in-house software development team to create a second-generation online PR Tool for the SD program. We finalized the system requirements document and began the initial phase of project development. The new PR Tool will be launched during 2008-2009.
We implemented our EMPs and reported EMP performance to the National EMS Committee at regularly scheduled meetings. We also developed draft EMPs for 2008-2009.
To respond effectively to enquiries, the SD division maintains an email 'letter box' and is committed to a service standard that requires the Division to respond to enquiries within five working days. During 2007-2008 we received a total of 54 enquiries. The SD division's average response turnaround was 1.6 days, and we responded to 100% of enquires within the time limit of the service standard.
A total of six activities were scheduled for implementation in the National SD action plan to support goal 4. The average completion percentage achieved was 74%. During the period, eight EMP targets supported goal 4, and all eight were met.
3.4.1 Conclusion - Goal 4
Good progress was made to strengthen SD support systems during 2007-2008. Active engagement with our SD network allowed sharing of best practices and afforded opportunities to take corrective actions when necessary. Ongoing monitoring of performance, improvements in data acquisition and reporting systems and information sharing have improved the focus on results-based performance and continuous improvement in program delivery. However, we have much work to do in fiscal year 2008-2009 with respect to developing and releasing the revised PR Tool, and preparing an SD report card for the CRA.
3.5 Overall SD Strategy Performance for 2007-2008
During 2007-2008, we completed 82% of the scheduled work for year-one of the national SD action plan, and 80% of the targets of the EMPs. One SD target for green procurement was scheduled to be met by March 31, 2008. During the period 11.4% of all product purchases were green products, surpassing the target of 10% for 2007-2008.
Based on the progress made in implementing our national SD action plan activities and EMPs, the available data on targets, and the results achieved during the period, we conclude that good progress was made on each of the four goals of our SD strategy during 2007-2008, and that the Agency is on track in terms of delivering on its SD strategy commitments. In cases where 2007-2008 SD activities were less than complete, they will be carried forward for completion in 2008-2009.
- [Footnote 4]
NRCan CICES Summary Report, June 2007.
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