Shrinking the environmental footprint—beginning with government

The Government of Canada has a broad mandate to provide services to Canadians at home and abroad. Its extensive operational presence consists of more than 30 000 buildings owned or leased, in excess of 16 000 on-road vehicles, and over 250 000 employees.

Goal 6: Greenhouse gas emissions and energy

Reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of federal operations.

Progress statements

Overall GHG emissions from federal operations have been reduced since 2005.

Responsible departments and agencies continue to work toward achieving their own GHG emissions reduction targets in support of the overall federal target of 17% by 2020–2021.

Remaining challenges

There are various opportunities for reducing energy use in existing buildings. However, unlike vehicles and other equipment where newer technology and frequent turnover can have a significant contribution in reducing energy consumption, projects to reduce energy consumption in federal real property typically have longer time frames, involve more stakeholders and require greater resources.

What we know

Federal operations consume a considerable amount of energy—to heat and cool facilities, to fuel vehicles and equipment, and to power the daily activities of the federal workforce. This energy consumption is tied to the release of direct and indirect GHG emissions and to overall GHG emissions from sources not under direct control by the government such as leased facilities, business travel and employee commuting.

Reducing GHG emissions generated by federal facilities and fleets remains the core focus of this goal. Responsible departments and agencies are working to reduce emissions associated with the energy used in federal buildings and fleets as well as to support activities that reduce indirect emissions. A target has been established to address significant sources of emissions where the government has the capacity and operational control to effect change.

Greenhouse gas emissions reduction

Departments and agencies subject to the GHG emissions reduction target have quantified their base-year emissions levels for 2005–2006 using the Federal Greenhouse Gas Tracking Protocol, a common standard for federal organizations based on internationally accepted principles. The aggregate of these emissions for the base year is 1391 kilotonnes (kt) in units CO2 eq. Energy-related emissions represent approximately 97% of the GHG emissions produced by Crown-owned buildings and fleets of 15 federal departments and agencies.

The accounting method for emissions associated with electricity use excludes ongoing improvements to the emissions intensity of electricity from provincial power grids (“greening of the grid”). This approach differentiates emission reductions resulting from departmental efforts to reduce energy consumption from those accruing from the “greening of the grid.”

Target 6.1: Greenhouse gas emissions reduction

The Government of Canada will reduce GHG emissions from its buildings and fleet by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Progress statement

In fiscal year 2013–2014, responsible departments and agencies have reduced GHG emissions from their buildings and fleets by 2.5%, relative to fiscal year 2005–2006.

What we know

As of March 2014, the 15 responsible departments and agencies reduced annual GHG emissions from their buildings and fleet by 2.5%, relative to fiscal year 2005–2006. This represents a 34 kt CO2 eq decrease from base-year emission levels and is comparatively smaller than the 6% and 5% reductions observed in the previous two years.

Custodian departments responsible for managing the energy use of their buildings indicated that weather variations from year to year had a considerable impact on the heating and cooling demands of their buildings. Across Canada, the winter of 2013–2014 was longer and colder than previous years (especially 2005–2006, against which the target has been set), which largely explains the higher-than-anticipated emissions reported by many departments.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Beginning in fiscal year 2011–2012, all 15 departments established separate targets and plans to reduce GHG emissions below base-year levels to support achievement of the government-wide target in 2020–2021. These targets and plans are tailored to departmental circumstances and identify emissions reduction activities within the operational control and ability of departments.

Federal facilities

Emissions from facilities account for 91% of emissions covered by the federal GHG target. Departments responsible for reducing GHG emissions from their Crown-owned facilities have identified a wide range of measures to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency, such as energy audits, energy efficiency upgrades and facility retrofits. Actions such as upgrading lighting systems with efficient light sources, fixtures and controls have provided additional benefits beyond reducing energy use, such as improvements to the visual environment of the workspace.

Several departments have included recommissioning and continuous building optimizations in their plans to help building control systems meet both operational and efficiency needs. Many departments have incorporated energy efficiency into their governance practices, established energy management capacity, and incorporated employee engagement strategies and energy awareness training.

Others generate renewable power on-site, or have purchased renewable power generated from low-impact wind, solar or biomass. These initiatives help to reduce the amount of traditional electricity consumed, further reducing emissions from purchased electricity.

Federal fleet

The federal fleet represents roughly one tenth of targeted emissions. Over half are associated with on-road vehicles, while the balance is associated with marine vessels, aircraft and other mobile equipment owned by federal departments.

Departments have reviewed their vehicle purchases, composition and deployment (fleet rationalization) to contribute to a more efficient government fleet. Since 2005–2006, departments and agencies subject to this target have reduced the number of on-road vehicles by about 1200. Other measures include implementing regular maintenance schedules, anti-idling campaigns and eco-driver training.

For instance, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reduced GHG emissions by 26% from fiscal year 2005–2006, clearly exceeding its 17% GHG target. CRA reduced the size of its fleet, from 90 to 67 vehicles over the same period, using a centralized fleet management model and focusing on the “greening” and right-sizing of its fleet with the continued use of hybrid vehicle technologies, as well as the reduction in engine size and number of cylinders where operationally feasible. CRA also implemented initiatives such as reallocating under-utilized vehicles across the agency, stringent tracking of vehicle kilometres driven to ensure optimal usage, and training and communicating best practices to fleet managers and drivers.

Technological advancements in the automotive industry are also helping the government to green its fleet, as older vehicles are replaced by more fuel-efficient models.

Detailed information about departmental plans and performance on this target may be found in the Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: AAFC, CBSA, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), DFO, DND, ECCC, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), HC, INAC, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), ISED, NRCan, PC, PSPC, TC ( denotes departments and agencies reporting GHG emissions from fleet only).

Waste and asset management

A broad range of government operations are covered by this goal, including the management of buildings and the federal fleet, as well as an array of federally procured goods and services.

The goal includes the following Targets:

A fourth operational target, Target 7.4: Greening Services to Clients, was introduced in 2013-2016, which focuses on measures by departments to reduce the environmental impact of the services to their clients.

Goal 7: Waste and asset management

Reduce waste generated and minimize the environmental impacts of assets throughout their life cycle.

Progress statement

The government has made progress on waste and asset management: 37 of 54 real property projects and existing Crown-owned buildings have achieved a high level of environmental performance, 85% of SMART green procurement targets have been achieved (or are on track to be achieved), and 100% of FSDS departments have developed an approach to maintain and improve the sustainability of workplace policies and practices.

Remaining challenge

While most departments and agencies have made considerable progress under this goal, there remain some target areas in which improvement is still expected from a few departments. This is especially true in the area of printer rationalization and green procurement.

What we know

All 26 FSDS departments have established three Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) green procurement targets; 85% of these targets have been achieved or are on track to be achieved.One hundred percent (100%) of FSDS departments have developed an approach to maintain and improve the sustainability of workplace policies and practices.

Since 2012–2013, 37 out of 54 real property projects and existing Crown-owned buildings have achieved a high level of environmental performance.

Real property environmental performance

This target focuses on approaches to integrating environmental decision-making in the management of real-property energy, material, waste and water. Federal real property includes office buildings, labs, research facilities, combined spaces, storage buildings, warehouses, coast guard and military bases, recreational and heritage buildings, as well as many other types of buildings owned or leased by the federal government. Improving the sustainability of real property represents a large and promising opportunity to reduce emissions, improve energy and resource efficiency, and save on operational and maintenance costs.

Recognizing that departments have different operational mandates and resource requirements, the FSDS requires departments to develop a Real Property Sustainability Framework (RPSF) that outlines their approach to implementing the Real Property (7.1) and Water Management (8.1) targets. The RPSF is a continuation of the green building strategic frameworks that departments got under way in FSDS 2010–2013 to manage the environmental performance of real property projects and existing buildings.

Target 7.1: Real property environmental performance

As of April 1, 2014, and pursuant to departmental Real Property Sustainability Frameworks, an industry-recognized level of high environmental performance will be achieved in Government of Canada real property projects and operations.

Progress statements

Federal real property custodians continue to integrate environmental performance considerations into real property decision-making, supporting the government’s pursuit of its GHG emissions reduction, waste and asset management, and water management targets, as well as utility cost savings.

To date, 37 of 54 real property projects and existing Crown-owned buildings and 26 of 36 new construction and major renovation projects have achieved an industry-recognized level of high environmental performance since 2012–2013.

What we know

Of the existing Crown-owned buildings (over 1000 m2) and new lease or lease renewal projects (over 1000 m2) where the Crown is the major lessee, 707 out of 2560 have been assessed since 2011–2012 for their environmental performance using an industry-recognized assessment tool.

Of the new construction, build-to-lease projects and major renovations projects, 26 out of 36 have achieved an industry-recognized level of high environmental performance since 2012–2013. Eleven out of 18 fit-up and refit projects have achieved an industry-recognized level of high environmental performance since 2012–2013.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Custodial departments strive to achieve a high level of environmental performance for their real property projects and existing buildings. To rate a building’s performance, federal departments use industry-recognized assessment and validation tools, such as the Canada Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Building Owners and Managers Association Building Environmental Standards and Green Globes.

Fourteen FSDS departments and agencies for which this target applies have updated their RPSF, which defines their organization’s approach to managing the environmental performance of new construction, build-to-lease projects, major renovations, operations and maintenance of existing Crown-owned buildings, and new lease or lease renewal projects. Additionally, six departments have incorporated environmental consideration clauses into the performance evaluations of real- property managers and functional heads responsible for new construction, leases or existing building operations.

An example of departmental efforts to improve real-property performance is NRCan’s Canmet MATERIALS Laboratory, located in Hamilton, Ontario. The lab, a Private Public Partnership between NRCan, McMaster Innovation Park and McMaster University, was certified LEED Platinum in October 2013. This building uses both passive and active sustainable technologies such as geothermal heating and cooling, radiating in-floor heating, photovoltaic cells, solar walls, solar shades, and light-reflecting materials. With all of its energy saving and sustainable design features, the lab is designed to reduce energy consumption by up to 70%.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies.Responsible departments and agencies: AAFC, CBSA, DFO, DND, ECCC, HC, INAC, ISED, NRCan, PC, Canadian Heritage (PCH), PHAC, PSPC, TC, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

Green procurement

The federal government is a significant purchaser of goods and services, spending billions of dollars annually to provide services to Canadians. To protect the environment and support sustainable development, the federal government established the Policy on Green Procurement in 2006 and has since required that all departments identified in Section 2 of the Financial Administration Act (including all 26 departments bound by the Federal Sustainable Development Act) integrate environmental performance considerations into their procurement decision-making processes.

Departments and agencies have identified specific targets to reduce the environmental impacts of goods and services that they use or procure, such as information technology and audio-visual equipment, vehicles, office furniture, printers and paper, and business travel.

Target 7.2: Green procurement

As of April 1, 2014, the Government of Canada will continue to take action to embed environmental considerations into public procurement, in accordance with the federal Policy on Green Procurement.

Progress statements

The federal government continues to make progress on implementing the Policy on Green Procurement; for example, more than 14 600 specialists in procurement and/or materiel management have completed training over the last 3 years.

In addition, in 2013–2014, 96% of the 26 FSDS departments included support or contribution towards green procurement as an element in the performance evaluations of those managing procurement and materiel management.

What we know

Over 14 600 specialists in procurement and/or materiel management across government have completed the Canada School of Public Service Green Procurement course in the last 3 years. And as of 2013–2014, 26 FSDS departments (96%) have included support or contribution towards green procurement in the performance evaluations of managers and functional heads of procurement and materiel management.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

The government continues to incorporate environmental considerations into its procurement instruments for use by all government departments and agencies. Over 30 goods and services categories have green procurement plans in place. Green procurement plans outline the key environmental impacts for a given good or service and the procurement actions that can be taken to mitigate these impacts. The environmental categories assessed include GHGs and air contaminants, energy and water efficiency, ozone-depleting substances, waste, reuse and recycling, hazardous waste, and toxic and hazardous chemicals and substances. The resulting green scorecards identify environmental considerations taken into account in the procurement decision-making process for each good or service, as well as future plans for incorporating environmental criteria in federal government purchases.

Under Target 7.2, departments and agencies have identified specific targets to reduce the environmental impacts of goods and services that they use or procure, such as information technology and audio-visual equipment, vehicles, office furniture, printers and paper, and business travel. Six departments have introduced a business travel target to reduce emissions from business-related air travel by a minimum of 25% by 2020–2021. The baseline fiscal year for these departmental targets varies from 2005–2006 to 2008–2009. These six departments have reduced their emissions from business travel by an average of 52.5% (29 459 t CO2 eq) since 2008–2009.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: AAFC, ACOA, CBSA, CED, CRA, GAC, DFO, Department of Justice Canada (JUS), DND, ECCC, ESDC, FIN, HC, INAC, ISED, IRCC, NRCan, PC, PCH, PHAC, PS, PSPC, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), TC, VAC, WD.

Sustainable workplace operations

The sustainable workplace operations target in the 2013–2016 FSDS consolidates several similar targets from the 2010–2013 FSDS: printer rationalization, paper consumption reduction, greening meetings, and e-waste. It also includes new implementation strategies associated with information technology, fleet management, office waste, employee engagement and other corporate policies and practices, which represent activities already under way in departments. The target requires departments to develop an approach on implementing this target in line with their operational environment and available resources.

Target 7.3: Sustainable workplace operations

As of April 1, 2015, the Government of Canada will update and adopt policies and practices to improve the sustainability of its workplace operations.

Progress statements

The government has reduced the environmental impact of the federal workplace in a number of key areas. From 2011 to 2014, the federal government donated over 369 000 computers, laptops, monitors and printers to Computers for Schools (CFS), and increased the average ratio of employees to printing units from 4:1 to 8.5:1 (shedding an estimated 27 500 units).

In addition, over 2 years, annual paper consumption dropped by about 540 million sheets, and the use of 20 000 toner cartridges was eliminated, saving the government approximately $4.5 million.

What we know

All 26 FSDS departments and agencies have an approach in place to maintain or improve the sustainability of workplace policies and practices. Many departments have implemented their own sustainability strategy, in addition to the FSDS.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Departments and agencies have undertaken actions to continuously improve workplace operations, such as engaging employees in reducing energy and material consumption, reducing waste, and reusing and recycling material and assets to divert waste from landfills.

For instance, the Defence Environmental Strategy (DES), along with the FSDS, provides National Defence with the direction it needs to continue to evolve as an environmentally responsible and sustainable organization. The DES effectively integrates and employs best practices through life-cycle management into workplace activities and operations at an organizational level in support of a sustainable modern military. The intent is to inform its personnel on the environmental program and its relevance to Defence activities; to motivate personnel to integrate environmental considerations into their activities by highlighting what others are doing; and to show results.

All FSDS departments and agencies follow the Government of Canada’s E-Waste Strategy, which was launched in February 2010. It aims to prevent improper e-waste disposal and its associated negative impacts on human health, the environment and information security by emphasizing reuse and, where reuse is not possible, environmentally sound recycling. All 26 FSDS departments and agencies reuse or recycle their surplus electronic and electrical equipment in an environmentally sound and secure manner where feasible.

From 2011–2014, the federal government donated over 369 000 computers, laptops, monitors and printers to CFS, a computer reuse program led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The majority of the equipment was refurbished and reused in Canadian schools, Indigenous communities and not-for-profit learning organizations. Equipment that could not be reused or refurbished was sent for environmentally sound recycling using provincial electronic waste recycling programs.

Internal paper consumption per employee also showed a positive trend. As of the end of fiscal year 2013–2014, 22 of the 26 FSDS departments (85%) had reduced paper consumption per office employee by at least 20% compared with their departmental baseline years. By the numbers, this means that over 2 fiscal years, annual paper consumption by all FSDS departments dropped by an estimated 540 million sheets (2700 tonnes).

In response to the green meetings target established under the 2010–2013 FSDS, 25 of the 26 FSDS departments and agencies have adopted a green meetings guide to reduce the environmental impacts associated with organizational meetings or events. Leading departments have taken steps to embed the culture of green meetings within their organizations by disseminating the guide via targeted Web communications activities, such as national sustainable development events.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: AAFC, INAC, ACOA, CBSA, CED, IRCC, CRA, GAC, DFO, DND, ECCC, ESDC, FIN, HC, ISED, JUS, NRCan, PC, PCH, PHAC, PS, PSPC, TC, TBS, VAC, WD.

Greening services to clients

The objective of this target is to allow departments with a significant role in delivering services to internal and external clients to demonstrate their actions to minimize the environmental impact of these services.

Target 7.4: Greening services to clients

By March 31, 2015, departments will establish SMART targets to reduce the environmental impact of their services to clients.

Progress statement

As this is a new and optional target, data is not yet available to provide a measure of progress.

What we know

Three FSDS departments have established targets to reduce the environmental impact of their services to clients.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Several departments have examined how they serve their clients and implemented strategies to reduce the environmental impact of their services.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitment for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: Optional for all departments and agencies subject to the FSDS.

Water management

The 2013–2016 FSDS was the first to include a goal and target on water management in federal government operations. This new goal and target was established to demonstrate how the government’s own operations are contributing to the wider water goal outlined under Theme II (Maintaining Water Quality and Availability).

Goal 8: Water management

Improve water management in federal operations.

Progress statement

The government has added a new commitment to improve the management of water in its real property operations.

Remaining challenges

It is expected that federal efforts to improve management of water across the federal real property portfolio will proceed in small, manageable steps through further integration of environmental considerations in decision–making and greater understanding and measurement of water consumption.

What we know

This new goal is intended to increase the awareness of water usage across departments and to raise the capacity of custodial departments to monitor and manage their water resources more effectively in the future to realize water and cost savings. Custodial departments are required to outline their approaches to implement water conservation and management measures and are encouraged to take steps to improve the availability of data on the consumption of potable water.

Water management

The target for water management emphasizes the importance of implementing actions to improve a department’s ability to measure water use. This information assists departmental decision-making and future government-wide actions related to water management in federal real-property operations.

Target 8.1: Water management

As of April 1, 2014, the Government of Canada will take further action to improve water management within its real property portfolio.

Progress statement

All 15 custodial FSDS departments and agencies are making strides to improve water management in their real property operations and identify priority areas for action.

What we know

Of applicable FSDS departments and agencies, 13 (87%) have established an approach to improving water management in their real property operations. For 2015–2016, 7 departments have indicated that 11 196 893 m² (16%) of floor space of planned new Crown-owned construction and major renovation projects will include water metering.

Activity under the 2013–2016 FSDS

Government-wide water consumption measurement and tracking mechanisms and water conservation targets continue to be medium- and longer-term objectives. However, the range in the scope of objectives may vary due to the diverse nature of federal-real property facilities and operations, shared responsibilities for real property management across government, and variability of information management systems.

Increasing the metering of water usage for both existing and new facilities is critical for better water management within government operations. Increased metering and monitoring through potable water audits allow organizations to identify leaks, anticipate repairs and assess water efficiency measures in order to inform operational improvements and targeted investments.

The conservation of potable water can be improved by using lower-quality water to flush toilets, for washing, and for uses in building operations (such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and landscape irrigation. Several custodial departments have implemented water conservation through the introduction of technology, or new processes or designs, and by encouraging building occupants to be water conscious.

Management of stormwater run-off is another important element to improve the overall management of water. Managing stormwater run-off can minimize impacts to the natural hydrology from facilities and associated grounds.

Detailed information about the plans and performance of federal departments and agencies respecting their FSDS commitments for this target may be found in their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies. Responsible departments and agencies: AAFC, CBSA, DFO, DND, ECCC, HC, INAC, ISED, NRCan, PC, PCH, PHAC, PSPC, TC, VAC.

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