Tiny garbage bins – smaller than two litres of milk – sit on staff desks at Assiniboine Credit Union marked “This is all the garbage I make.” It is just one of many signs that explain why ACU keeps winning awards for being light on the environment – 365 days a year, and not just on Earth Day.
The tiny bins remind employees that there are many ways to dispose of office trash other than throwing something in the garbage. At ACU everything from pop cans, to office paper to outdated computers and printers are collected and recycled.
But it is not the recycling program that makes ACU stand out on Earth Day – it’s the year-long efforts of the Eco-Excellence Team that monitors the co-operative’s footprint and creates office eco-action plans to reduce its environmental impact.
“We track everything we do and we can show that our efforts are actually making a difference in several areas. And we also achieve financial savings,” says ACU’s Vice-President of Social Responsibility and Community Investment, Priscilla Boucher. “We prove to ourselves every year that we can be environmentally responsible without breaking the bank, so to speak.”
In recognition of their success ACU was selected as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers by the editors of MediaCorp Canada today. ACU was one of only three Manitoba companies recognized nationally – along with Red River College and Manitoba Hydro. Earlier this month, ACU was honoured with the Manitoba Excellence in Sustainability Award for Action on Climate Change, Air Quality and Energy Efficiency. Last year the credit union received the Gold Award in the Commuter Challenge; and the 2012 Commuter Friendly Workplace Award.
Some of those environmentally smart measures that employees have helped create include:
- turning unclaimed single-sided print jobs into scratch pads.
- re-programming printers to print double-sided and use less paper.
- using online surveys instead of paper surveys for employee feedback.
- reducing energy consumption in branches.
- adding environmental features in every new and renovated building
- recycling office supplies and furniture between locations and with non-profit organizations.
- removing non-reusable kitchen supplies like plastic cutlery or cups.
- providing subsidized bus passes and a carpool-matching service for employees.
- providing bike racks at most ACU locations.
- creating the only dedicated Manager of Environmental Sustainability position within Manitoba credit unions.
- providing grants and sponsorships for community projects, programs and events that focus on improving the environment.
ACU has even worked with community partners to encourage others to ‘go green’, such as creating online Your Greener Home resources for those who want to build, renovate, or buy a ‘greener’ home – linking them with resources on home-energy and water-efficiency programs, rebates, loans and incentives.
By the numbers
3 – the number of ACU green branches (Rivergrove, Pembina, School Road).
$1.95 – average energy cost per square foot at all ACU locations.
$1.30 – average energy cost per square foot at Pembina’s LEED Silver building after four years.
50 – per cent of employees who took the ACU Eco-Pledge to personally find ways to reduce waste and energy use at work.
91 – per cent of employees who say they trust ACU to make business decisions that are environmentally responsible.
32 – per cent of total waste reduced from 2008 to 2012 (from 99 kg a year per full time employee to 67 kg).
12,000 – aluminum cans recycled in 2012.
1.2 – million kilometres of green and active commuting by ACU employees in 2012. (That’s 40 trips around the equator.)
Assiniboine Credit Union has 25 branches in Manitoba, 109,000 members and $3.4 billion in assets. It is the largest credit union in Manitoba by membership and second largest by assets.