It`s Easy Being Green

David Johnston R+T Park Joins Regional Carbon Inititative

Contrary to the sentiments expressed by a certain frog, it can be easy being green. Or so it would appear, given the enthusiasm emanating from the David Johnston Research + Technology Park's newly established Green Team.

The team, made up of park developers, building owners, University of Waterloo, Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR) project managers, and volunteers representing all of the Park's corporate employers, will spearhead the Park's fledgling green house gas (GHG) reduction program, formed under the umbrella of Sustainable Waterloo Region's (SWR) Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI).

The R+T Park joined the RCI as a Collaborative Facility Member in March 2015, in tandem with its 10th anniversary, becoming one of the first multi-tenant organizations to join the program and the first member of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) network in Canada to commit to a GHG reduction target.

"Over the last 10 years, the R+T Park has become an internationally recognized success and a source of competitive advantage. Now, it is our opportunity to transform into a green destination -- a huge attraction for technology companies and their employees. Participation in the RCI will provide us with the opportunity to become a true leading example of sustainability in the university research park and technology communities," says Carol Stewart.

As a first step in establishing its GHG reduction target, Green Team representatives must gather energy-related data and other major sources of emissions from each of the Park's corporate residents. This information, which includes electricity and gas usage, generator usage, fleet-related and employee business-related air travel will be compiled by SWR's team to form a baseline of energy consumption and emissions Park-wide. The information from the audit will also be used by the Green Team to determine R+T Park's GHG reduction target.

The whole process is moving along very swiftly - in fact much faster than typical, says Sustainable Waterloo program manager Matthew Day. "We have been quite overwhelmed with the enthusiasm we have experienced in working with the park. It can often take a single company 2-3 years to gather data and establish a GHG reduction target. We are on track at this point with the R+T Park to have our target set by end of summer 2015. That's incredibly fast."

Day attributes the fast progress the park is making to the Stewart's leadership and to individuals on the Green Team's who each have a deep personal commitment to building a more environmentally sustainable future. "In our first meeting at the park with the team, we walked into a room filled with eager representatives," Marvels Day. "They were all there waiting for us to arrive."

Mohannad Hussain, a software developer with Agfa Healthcare's XERO team is representing his fellow employees at the Green Team table. A longtime proponent of green living, he is excited about reinvigorating green initiatives within his company (Agfa Healthcare has had its own Green Team in place in the past to lead energy conservation initiatives), and to seeing what together the companies in the Park can accomplish. "This is very much a grassroots effort, led by the employees who work in the park and who believe. Our employers are of course on board, but this is coming directly from the people who work here every day. I keep reminding my colleagues, being green doesn't mean having to change your standard of living," says Mohannad. "By making even the smallest of changes we can achieve a more sustainable future."

Vicki Lipsit, enterprise software giant OpenText's representative on the Green Team is also proud to lead her company in doing its part to reduce GHG emissions. "We are always striving to do our part for the community, and the Green Team offered us an ideal way to become more corporately responsible, while working together with our neighbors to make an even bigger reduction in our carbon footprint," she says.

Software enterprise giant SAP has committed to reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions from its global operations to 2000 levels by 2020, and welcomes the opportunity to participate in the RCI, says Bobbilynn Keating, Facilities Specialist, SAP Canada Inc. "As SAP accelerates it's shift to the cloud, we have tied our business strategy to our environmental strategy by creating a completely green cloud at SAP, referring to carbon neutrality by purchasing 100% renewable electricity certificates and compensation by offsets."

Green companies are proven performers, Matthew points out. "There is evidence that shows companies who embrace sustainability have better stock values, are more attractive to prospective employees, and garner more positive media attention. Companies in the R+T Park are winning on multiple fronts. It's definitely an environmental win, but it will also be an economic boon. I suspect when corporate management has a look at the cost savings our carbon reduction target will yield when achieved, they'll see participation in the RCI as a complete no-brainer."