Environmental sustainability: greening our operations around the globe

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A healthy environment is important to our people and to our business. Our Climate Change and Sustainability Services practice helps our clients and our communities move to a low-carbon way of operating and lower their costs in the process. Because we believe that any commitment to a greener world has to start at home, we’re also challenging ourselves to work in an environmentally responsible manner and to find new ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

We have adopted five initiatives to improve our impact on the environment worldwide.

  1. Measuring our own carbon footprint by collecting and analyzing data on energy consumption in our offices and business travel
  2. Setting goals for our internal operations to promote environmentally sustainable business practices
  3. Putting in place an environmentally responsible travel policy around the globe
  4. Establishing guidelines for waste management for our offices around the world
  5. Making our meetings more environmentally friendly wherever they take place


Many of our people across Canada serve on our EcoCare team, which is led by our CFO, Alan Smith. In his role as Director of Environmental Sustainability, Alan encourages all our people to lessen our environmental footprint.

We also offer an in-depth intranet site related to environmental issues for employees, containing tips and information, status reports and activities for EcoCare. At a regional level, EcoCare volunteers also produce local newsletters and communications to share information, ideas and tips.

We’ve also published a set of guidelines for holding “responsible meetings.” Some of these guidelines include asking our people to hold a community-engagement activity as part of their meeting and/or encouraging our people to reduce the meeting’s environmental footprint through sustainable practices.

Some of our “green” accomplishments

We’ve been working hard to manage our impact on the environment. Here are just some examples of activities that support our strategy:

  • We provide IT resources for our people to work at home (laptops, BlackBerry devices and virtual private network connectivity). This helps to reduce commuting. We also give higher reimbursement rates for those who carpool over those who drive alone.
  • Video and teleconferencing equipment in our boardrooms reduce the need for our people to fly across the country for internal meetings.
  • As a result of our travel-cutting efforts, we reduced our overall travel in 2009 by 27% (about 10-million miles).
  • We use paper with 30% post-consumer content in our photocopiers and printers.
  • Our stationary and office supplies — including paper, toner cartridges and binders — are recycled or reused. And in our Toronto office, we donate surplus supplies to the city’s parks and recreation after-school programs.

Leisha John talks to a leading industry publication about sustainability

Leisha John, Americas Director of Environmental Sustainability, spoke with Accounting Today about her strategy for making EY environmentally responsible and her commitment to all things green.

Greening corporate Canada

More than 100 of Canada’s top business leaders — including the president and CEO of GE Canada, the president and deputy chairman of Loblaw Companies Ltd., the president of The Home Depot Canada and Asia, and former Ernst & Young LLP Chairman and CEO Lou Pagnutti — converged at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto this fall to discuss the barriers and benefits of Canadian businesses implementing a sustainable strategy.

As a lead sponsor, we provided a number of our partners and senior managers to act as discussion facilitators and writers who recorded the table conversations.

Following the forum, Lou Pagnutti briefly met with the Prince of Wales, who toured the Brick Works and met with select participants.

Earthwatch® Institute

Through our relationship with this global environmental organization, professionals from our Climate Change and Sustainability Services practice and EcoCare group have opportunities to broaden their professional experience by participating in a volunteer sustainability project. On a recent expedition, volunteers gathered samples for research and provided skill-based volunteer services to one of Costa Rica’s leading coffee co-operatives. Their projects helped farmers in the Tarrazú region develop economically and environmentally sustainable farming practices and helped our communities reduce their impact on the environment.

GLOBE 2010 Conference

This spring, we sponsored the Women's Networking Luncheon at the GLOBE 2010 event in Vancouver — one of the world's largest events devoted to the business of the environment. The panel of prominent female leaders in sustainability was moderated by Melanie Steiner, EY Markets Leader, Climate Change and Sustainability Toronto.

Sonia Lacombe, EY Markets Leader, Climate Change and Sustainability Montreal, participated as a panellist for a “water efficiency” session.

The benefits of renewable energy

The time has never been better for Canada to replace carbon-based fossil fuels with alternative energy, but several challenges still stand in the way, according to a new Economist Intelligence Unit study, sponsored by EY.

Renewable Energy in North America surveyed 132 executives in the US and Canada and found that the most significant drivers for renewable energy are public perception and government, while cost and technological immaturity are still significant barriers.

Cleantech ignition session

In 2009, our Cleantech industry team gathered a diverse group of executives, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and government regulators to generate ideas about how to build BC into a world leader in clean energy technology.

We published a thought leadership report that covers the current state of BC’s clean energy industry and offers perspectives and insights on renewable energy issues from the session’s participants.

The World Energy Congress

EY is a sponsor of the World Energy Congress — an energy forum and exhibition for corporations, community members and leaders around the world to forge a better understanding of energy issues and solutions.

Please note: EY does not accept unsolicited requests for funding or volunteer engagements.