Success Stories: company and business profiles
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Steel is a major contributor to Canada’s economy and is used by many types of businesses to make the infrastructure and products we use every day. To ensure the steel industry continues to be competitive and be an important part of the clean economy, the Canadian Steel Producers Association has developed a plan – their “Climate Call to Action” – to engage stakeholders and governments to work together to reach their aspirational goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
This plan focuses on five priorities:
- Create unique partnerships and research collaborations
- Develop and adopt breakthrough clean technologies
- Drive operational excellence
- Support domestic use of Canadian steel
- Ensure global leadership in sustainability, energy management and environmental best practices
Canada’s steel sector has demonstrated its ability to embrace collaboration. A key example includes its decarbonization collaboration efforts through the Canadian Carbonization Research Association (CCRA). The CCRA is undertaking early research into a handful of promising technologies and is comprised of Canada’s integrated steel producers, its existing metallurgical coal suppliers, and the Canadian Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology (CANMET), the federal government’s research lab.
Steel producers are also making efforts towards more sustainable products. For example, ArcelorMittal Long Products Canada recently installed two reheat furnaces that have helped increase productivity, optimize energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20,000 tonnes per year.
The Canadian Steel Producers Association believes that with a robust set of policies, tools and programs, coupled with significant funding and partnerships, it is possible to achieve transformational change over the next 30 years towards net-zero emissions.
Habitat for Humanity Manitoba (HFHM) is a non-profit organization that builds safe and affordable housing for low-income working families, with the support from the Province of Manitoba as part of the Bilateral Agreement with the federal government. HFHM also receives financial support within the community, from companies and individual donors. The mission started with the belief that if anyone deserves to buy and live in energy efficient and sustainable homes, it is low-income families.
Since 2010, the HFHM has been building highly energy-efficient homes. In fact, new homes in one of their developments all received LEED certified gold or platinum level ratings.
In 2018, HFHM built five net-zero homes. These homes have extremely tight building envelopes and custom designed roofs for solar panels that capture more than double the amount of energy consumed. Because these homes are powered solely by hydroelectricity, there are no greenhouse gas emissions, making them completely emissions-free. In addition, these homes have lower energy and heating costs.
HFHM continues to incorporate best practices learned from the net-zero building techniques in all the homes they build ensuring all homes are zero-emissions.
Ottawa has made significant progress in developing strategies to address the climate emergency. Ottawa’s first Climate Change Master Plan was unanimously approved by City Council in January 2020. The plan includes ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with international science to limit global temperature increases to 1.5OC.
The City of Ottawa’s strategy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Energy Evolution, was approved by City Council in October of 2020. Energy Evolution projects a net return of $87.7 billion for the City by 2050 from savings on energy bills and revenues generated from locally produced green energy. Some of the many projects already underway to help meet the targets include the City purchasing its first four electric buses this year as part of their goal to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2036, approval of a residential retrofit loan program, and municipal building retrofits that include innovation energy efficient windows, electric boilers, heat pumps and other measures.
In June 2020, the City also released the Climate Projections for the National Capital Region study, which uses advanced climate science modeling to project changes in temperature, precipitation, wind and extreme weather until the year 2100. The study was developed in partnership with the National Capital Commission and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The University of Manitoba is among the leaders of international research efforts on climate change in Canada’s Arctic and beyond, including sea ice research and the impacts of a changing climate on animals and the environment.
Operationally, the University has committed to reducing carbon emissions in the decades ahead by officially signing and supporting the Global Universities and Colleges Climate Letter in 2020. They are currently developing a climate action plan that will create a pathway for the university to fulfill the commitment of a 50 per cent reduction of emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is one of North America’s largest, most diverse electricity generators and clean technology innovators. Its closure of coal-fired electricity generation remains one of the world’s largest climate change-specific actions in the world.
In November 2020, OPG released their first-ever Climate Change Plan, which commits to being a net-zero carbon corporation by 2040 and a catalyst to help the economies where they operate achieve net-zero by 2050. This plan brings together OPG’s experience, expertise and ingenuity to tackle the climate crisis head-on for the benefit of current and future generations while helping drive economic renewal at the same time. The cornerstones of its plan include:
- advancing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to provide carbon-free, baseload electricity to help enable the transition away from fossil fuels;
- completing the Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment, one of Canada’s largest clean energy infrastructure projects, which will be key to powering electrification efforts;
- exploring the development of low-carbon hydrogen fuel; and
- continued investment in its hydro fleet to increase asset resiliency and better manage the impacts of a changing climate.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) owns and operates the largest fleet of battery-electric buses in North America, leading the charge on the transition to a greener, more environmentally sustainable future. Every electric bus takes the equivalent emissions of 45 cars off the road, and helps improve air quality and reduce sound pollution for Toronto residents. The TTC is working toward operating a completely zero emissions fleet by 2040.
The TTC’s fleet of eBuses was made possible through an investment by the City of Toronto and the Government of Canada. Along with the electric buses, the TTC has also installed green roofs on multiple stations across the city. They provide riders with relief from the hot summers, recycle water from bus washes to maintain the vegetation and help divert storm water from the sewers. These initiatives are helping the organization modernize its service, innovate for the future and plan for climate change.
In June 2020, the Halifax Regional Municipality released an ambitious climate plan for the region, HalifACT – Acting on Climate Together. This plan calls for urgent action, innovative collaboration, and leadership and commitment to climate action. HalifACT provides a roadmap for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and aims for a reduction in emissions of 75 per cent from 2016 levels by 2030. It is also an adaptation plan to build resiliency and protect the municipality’s most vulnerable populations, infrastructure, and ecosystems.
To get to net-zero by 2050, actions in the plan include:
- Net-zero new construction by 2030
- Retrofitting of existing buildings by 2040
- 100% renewable energy by 2050
- Carbon neutral water and wastewater operations by 2030
The municipality is also committed to a target of net-zero municipal operations by 2030. This includes electrifying the fleet and public transit systems, retrofitting buildings, improving waste diversion, reducing energy in the water utility, and building to a net-zero standard.
A proven sustainability leader in the heart of Canada’s energy sector, the University of Calgary is developing zero-carbon buildings and promoting cleaner energy technologies on the path to becoming a carbon neutral campus by 2050. Its Climate Action Plan maps out a path to carbon neutrality through four focus areas: zero carbon buildings, existing building retrofits, decarbonization of the main campus district energy system, and green energy supply.
In 2020, the University’s MacKimmie Complex redevelopment project received certification under the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building Design Standard. It was the first project in Alberta to receive this recognition. The 40,000 square metre building is also the largest project certified to date in Canada.
The adjacent MacKimmie Block is also being redeveloped. When complete, the combined project is predicted to provide an 85 per cent reduction in annual energy use and generate 800 megawatt hours of electricity from photo-voltaic arrays—enough to power 70 homes.
Leader in green building construction
The MacKimmie complex is one example of how the University of Calgary is leading Canadian universities in creating healthy, high-performance green buildings.
The university has 14 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified projects, including two platinum certifications. Three more LEED registered projects are under construction, two of which are also registered under the Zero Carbon Building Standard.
The cumulative benefits of these LEED projects to date include:
- 14,000 tonnes of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) avoidance—equivalent to having 3,000 fewer cars on the road
- 76,000 cubic meters of annual potable water saved—equivalent to 32 Olympic swimming pools
- 80,000 cubic meters of storm water managed on-site—equivalent to runoff from 24 hectares of parking lots
- 29,000 tonnes of construction waste diversion from landfill—more than twice the weight of the Calgary Tower
- 51 acres of natural greenspace created with drought tolerant native and adaptive species
The university is also driving innovation and emissions reductions in its existing buildings, investing over $34 million in energy retrofits over the past five years. The most recent energy retrofit projects were made possible thanks to $8.5 million from the Government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Fund. On completion, all of these upgrades will provide over 25,000 tonnes of annual GHG reductions and save over $3 million in annual utility costs.
It’s only the beginning as the University of Calgary makes bold strides towards becoming a carbon neutral campus.
The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) is a national not-for-profit organization with a long history in leading energy efficiency in residential construction. CHBA has several initiatives on Net Zero Energy homes that produce at least as much energy as they consume, including the Net Zero Home Labelling Program, Net Zero Reno Pilot, and Net Zero MURBs. CHBA is working towards net zero homes that are affordable, replicable, and appealing to Canadians. Homes and buildings contributed 13 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. These homes will help Canadians contribute towards the national goals for net-zero by 2050.
In February 2019, the City of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI), adopted the Community Energy Plan with an overarching vision that by 2050, the City will be a carbon-neutral (or net-zero) community powered only by renewable energy. The Plan includes four key objectives:
- Improving energy efficiency in buildings
- Reducing energy use in transportation
- Transitioning to clean renewable energy
- Fostering sustainable community development
Through these objectives, the City aims to improve efficiency, cut emissions and drive economic development.
To improve energy efficiency in its buildings, the City completed LED lighting upgrades at City Hall, the City Works garage, and two city arenas. They also replaced air conditioning units at a City community centre with heat pumps, helping to avoid 8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Over the last three years, the City also completed full LED lighting upgrades to two parkades, saving over $31,000 each year in electricity costs and reducing GHG emissions. Upgrades at the City’s third and final parkade were completed in 2020, which will further reduce costs and emissions.
Since 60 per cent of Charlottetown’s energy comes from New Brunswick, which includes coal-fired electricity, the City’s net-zero goal will also reduce emissions in New Brunswick.
In the interests of further reducing energy consumption and identifying and costing retrofits, Charlottetown began a comprehensive energy audit of all City facilities in 2020. The audit is now complete and the City is assessing options for moving forward with the proposed upgrades. This large-scale project demonstrates the City’s commitment and ongoing work.
Charlottetown continues to take meaningful steps to reduce its emissions and tackle climate change to reach its net-zero goals.
For over 20 years, Metro Vancouver has taken a leadership role in responding to climate change and has set ambitious climate action goals through its Climate 2050 strategy. This strategy will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help ensure that regional infrastructure, ecosystems and communities are resilient to the impacts of climate change and by committing to the achievement of a carbon-neutral region by 2050. Implementation of Climate 2050 is underway and is structured around ten different issue areas, each with its own roadmap with long-term goals, targets, strategies and actions.
In 2019, Metro Vancouver achieved net-zero within its corporate organization, as a result of actions that deliver community benefits beyond reducing GHG emission. Examples include the ecological restoration of Burns Bog (a joint effort with the City of Delta) and parkland acquisitions, both nature-based solutions that will help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Metro Vancouver is also increasing the share of electric and hybrid vehicles in its fleet and installing energy efficient heating systems at Metro Vancouver Housing sites. Metro Vancouver will now continue to build on its climate actions and hopes to inspire other organizations and orders of government to take bold action.
Collaboration is key to successful implementation of the strategy, which calls for actions targeting regional assets and operations and also recognizes that member jurisdictions, residents, and businesses require support in administering their own climate actions. Through strategic co-investment, the region can build resilience to future challenges while also improving many aspects of its natural and built environments.
The City of Guelph, Ontario, is working on ways to use energy more wisely and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to mitigate climate change. In 2019, Guelph set the goal of having all municipal facilities and operations run on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050. This goal supports the City’s Strategic Plan, which identified “Sustaining our Future”sustaining its future as one of the five top priorities.
Guelph is making great progress towards its net-zero emissions goal. Here are some highlights:
- Upgrading 13,000 non-decorative streetlights to LED lights with adaptive controls, allowing the City to save 9,465 kilowatt hours per year and $946,000 in yearly costs
- Installing cold-water flooding systems in all of the City’s recreation ice arenas, thereby eliminating the use of natural gas
- Using zero carbon building design for upcoming City facility upgrades like the new South End Community Centre and New Central Library
- Building an 18,600 square metre snow storage pad with recycled concrete and asphalt, including better environmental controls (reducing impacts of salt on the environment) and a commercial net-metered solar panel system
- Installing 12 electric vehicle chargers across Guelph with 12 more scheduled for installation in 2021
- Transitioning Guelph Transit buses from diesel to electric
- Constructing a new splash pad in spring 2021 with solar energy providing 100 per cent of the splash pad’s operating energy needs
The City’s 2019 Environmental Sustainability Report outlines further achievements, showing the City has already reduced its energy consumption by 2.2 million kilowatt hours, enough to power 250 homes per year!
In 2019, Maple Leaf Foods became the world’s first major carbon neutral food company and just one of three animal protein companies in the world to set science-based targets that align with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Achieving carbon neutrality was the result of a company-wide initiative to review every aspect of the business, ensuring that from the farm to Canadians’ dinner tables, sustainability is prioritized in everything Maple Leaf Foods does.
The company is committed to reducing its environmental footprint (electricity, natural gas, water, solid waste) and food waste by 50 per cent by 2025. Maple Leaf’s approved science-based targets aim to reduce GHG emissions from its operations by 30 per cent by 2030.
In order to meet these ambitious sustainability goals, the company has been aggressively avoiding and reducing emissions where possible in its plants and throughout the supply chain. For emissions that currently cannot be reduced, the company has invested in a variety of high-impact carbon offset projects across Canada and the United States—from supporting forestry and renewable energy initiatives to waste diversion projects—in order to bring its net emissions to zero.
On November 7, 2020, Maple Leaf Foods celebrated its one-year anniversary as a carbon neutral company, a significant milestone in their journey to becoming the most sustainable protein company on earth.
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