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Small Business Climate Action Creates Bottom Line and Community Benefits

November 8, 2012

Small Business Climate Action Creates Bottom Line and Community Benefits

VANCOUVER — Small businesses are a significant pool of innovation, pioneering new practices with a green and business-strengthening focus, according to a new report sponsored by the Business Development Bank of Canada, Metro Vancouver, City of Vancouver, and City of North Vancouver.

The Climate Smart report Beyond Big: Small Businesses, Greenhouse Gases, and Competitive Advantage examines the trend amongst small and mid-sized businesses towards carbon management: the measuring and systematic reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions and associated expenses.

The report looks at the types of businesses are acting to reduce their carbon impact, and why they are choosing to do so. The study also cites typical carbon emissions measured and reduced by businesses to date, and the resulting cost savings they are likely to achieve.

An average small business in BC reducing emissions can save $400 for every tonne of emissions they cut from their operations, according to Climate Smart.

“We have definitely observed a growing awareness amongst mainstream small businesses around the opportunities that environmental efficiency can bring,” said Climate Smart President Elizabeth Sheehan. “If the 200-plus businesses in our report reduced emissions by 3.6%—the average reduction we have measured to date—their potential savings totals $9.3m annually.”

Case studies in the report demonstrate that significant return on investment in carbon reduction is possible. One company implemented a range of projects that now collectively saves over $100,000 in annual operation costs, with a simple payback of one to two years. Another saved nearly $65,000 almost immediately, simply by assessing and acting on opportunities to recycle the waste generated in their business. The report shows such results are possible across all industries.

“Climate Smart’s report confirms that going green is great for business,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson of the City of Vancouver. “Cutting carbon emissions with reduced waste and energy use can lead to a much healthier bottom line for Vancouver’s small and medium-sized businesses, and those savings can then create more jobs.”

Private-sector climate action also represents an opportunity for local governments to kickstart business-led innovation within their communities. Data on carbon reduction within the business community can help prioritize city programs around both the environment and economic development.

For instance, transportation and heating are two activity areas where small businesses have the most carbon emissions, according to the report. This represents an opportunity area for governments and service providers to target conservation programs.

“Climate Smart is a key partner in achieving community wide greenhouse gas reduction goals and targets,” said Mayor Darrell Mussatto of the City of North Vancouver. “We applaud the leadership of Climate Smart in working with the business sector to strengthen our local green economy by reducing energy use and emissions. The Beyond Big report proves positive that this program is making an impact.”

Local businesses can act as important innovators and community leaders, and the report posits that the case for engagement is strong. “This study demonstrates that economic growth and environmental efficiency are complimentary objectives, and Climate Smart’s work with local companies moves Vancouver closer to our goal of becoming the world’s greenest city by 2020,” said Robertson.

“The overall theme of Beyond Big is that collectively the efforts of these businesses add up to a sizeable green movement,” said Sheehan. “Collectively, the organizations we have worked with employ over 51,000 people: more than the BC forestry, fishing, mining, oil and natural gas industries combined.”

Full news release (0.1MB, PDF):
Beyond Big: Small Businesses, Greenhouse Gases, and Competitive Advantage (16MB, PDF):
Case Studies from Beyond Big: Small Businesses, Greenhouse Gases, and Competitive Advantage (2MB, PDF):

Posted by Lloyd Lee on

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