September 14th, 2023

Trent Health in Motion physiotherapists and co-owners Reanna Montopoli and Michael Williams. Longtime participants in the Shifting Gears Commuter Challenge, Trent Health in Motion is a member of Green Economy Peterborough that recognizes active commuting as a great contribution to emissions reduction for their business. (Photo: Terri Lyn Thomas / Kaspi Creative)

Trent Health in Motion physiotherapists and co-owners Reanna Montopoli and Michael Williams. Longtime participants in the Shifting Gears Commuter Challenge, Trent Health in Motion is a member of Green Economy Peterborough that recognizes active commuting as a great contribution to emissions reduction for their business. (Photo: Terri Lyn Thomas / Kaspi Creative)

By: Jackie Donaldson, Program Coordinator, Green Economy Peterborough

If you are a weather watcher, as many Canadians are, you will have been gripped this summer by wildfire smoke events locally and by news of fires in British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Maui.

Unprecedented in ferocity and scope, these events are exacerbated by climate change, a warming of the average global temperature that needs to be mitigated with local action. A warming planet means more moisture is absorbed into the atmosphere, contributing to the warm and dry conditions that are causing the fire season to start earlier and last longer, and forests to burn faster and hotter.

Globally, businesses are also feeling the heat with many taking action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

This past spring, the City of Peterborough released the Community Sector GHG Inventory and Update, a report highlighting greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction activity outside direct municipal control. In the report, the City identified three initiatives that aid the reduction of climate pollution in the business sector: 1) Enbridge’s Fixed Incentive Program, a program that helps businesses to reduce space heating and water consumption; 2) Save-on-Energy, an initiative from Hydro One that provides funding for equipment and lighting efficiency upgrades; and 3) Green Economy Peterborough, a local membership program hosted by GreenUP that stewards businesses through a process to measure and reduce their climate impact.

With these programs, the City aims to see reductions of 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2030 from 2011 levels, states the report. That’s the equivalent of removing over 1,500 gasoline-powered cars from our roads for one year.

Lori Moloney, Matt Wilkinson, and Don Allin of Otonabee Conservation, which cares deeply about protecting our watershed. They are working with Green Economy Peterborough to support an organization-wide climate action plan that includes a review of their operational greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo courtesy of Otonabee Conservation)

Lori Moloney, Matt Wilkinson, and Don Allin of Otonabee Conservation, which cares deeply about protecting our watershed. They are working with Green Economy Peterborough to support an organization-wide climate action plan that includes a review of their operational greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo courtesy of Otonabee Conservation)

Green Economy Peterborough’s local business members are taking up the challenge. From green service providers like Generation Solar and Cambium Consulting + Engineering to more traditional businesses like Peterborough Golf & Country Club and Rodlin Instruments, Green Economy Peterborough members are working towards reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that occur as a result of their operational practices.

With Green Economy Peterborough’s support, members evaluate natural gas and electricity use, business travel, fleet efficiency, product transport and other sources for excess emissions and reduction opportunities.

The City’s Community Sector Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Update estimates that 14% of our community emissions will decrease by 2030 without additional provincial or federal programming, policies, or incentives. This is far below the emissions reductions goal of 45% needed by 2030 (with net-zero by 2050) to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts.

Not only is a focus on reductions urgent for the climate, but it also increases business efficiency and resilience, as costs continue to rise.

“[Reducing your climate impact] is good for businesses”, says City of Peterborough Climate Change Coordinator, James Byrne. “If you can reduce your impact through energy efficiency, energy switching, changing how things are shipped or packaged, that has an impact on the bottom line. It’s worth it.”

By participating in an initiative like Green Economy Peterborough, businesses can become eligible for funding, meet accelerating client and community expectations, keep current with changes occurring within the global economy, prepare their businesses for future regulations, and importantly, protect themselves against slower economic periods.

Pictured at the 2022 Peterborough’s Dragon Boat Festival, Green Economy Peterborough member Lett Architects Inc walk the talk. Not only are they leaders in their sector guiding clients in future-ready building design and procurement, they are working in-house to become operationally net zero. (Photo courtesy of Kristy Hook)

Pictured at the 2022 Peterborough’s Dragon Boat Festival, Green Economy Peterborough member Lett Architects Inc walk the talk. Not only are they leaders in their sector guiding clients in future-ready building design and procurement, they are working in-house to become operationally net zero. (Photo courtesy of Kristy Hook)

Businesses are dealing with a lot at this time. Many are still reeling from the impacts of the pandemic through supply change challenges, staffing upheavals, and fluctuations in the marketplace.

With the support of Green Economy Peterborough, businesses become more efficient, future-focused, resilient risk managers during unprecedented times of change.

In addition, they contribute to City of Peterborough and Peterborough County’s greenhouse gas reduction efforts and help to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change on the community.

For business leaders, engaging in climate solutions is a win-win-win.

Green Economy Peterborough is now recruiting members for the next cohort. Visit www.greeneconomypeterborough.ca for more information and a full list of our local business leader members.