Measuring Our Impact

December 8th, 2022

A table with information about GreenUP's programming.

GreenUP offers a wide range of inspiring community programs that help neighborhoods, businesses, and schools mitigate their impact on the environment. GreenUP works to better understand the environmental impact of our programs through the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. (Photo by Jessica Todd, Communications Associate at GreenUP)  

By: Tegan Moss, Executive Director of GreenUP

Over our 30 years of operation, GreenUP has made an effort to measure and keep transparent the impact we are having in our community.

GreenUP educates and engages thousands of children and youth each year. We have planted hundreds of thousands of native plants throughout our DePave and neighbourhood demonstration projects. We support hundreds homeowners and businesses to implement conservation strategies. We know that our community impact is significant, and all the while, our potential impact continues to grow as climate action and climate change mitigation become a critical priority for our region.

However, in addition to thinking about our community impact, we are driven to ask ourselves how an organization like GreenUP begins to quantitatively measure our own impact on the environment?

One way is by looking directly at our own footprint.

You may be aware of the ‘carbon footprint’ standard of measuring an individual’s impact on the climate. Your ‘carbon footprint’ is an approximate measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO 2) and other greenhouse gases produced your regular activities.

People talking in Cambium's newly renovated space with wooden beams on the ceilings with lot's of plants hanging.

In partnership with member business, Cambium Consulting and Engineering, Green Economy Peterborough (GEP) recently held a networking event and facility tour at Cambium. Over 50 community environmental champions attended the event and enjoyed a special presentation on the circular economy from Cambium Sustainability Specialist, Rob Arkell. The environmental impact of green business leaders like Cambium is measured with help from dedicated staff as part of their GEP membership. (Photo by Jessica Todd)

In 2020, GreenUP partnered with the City of Peterborough, County of Peterborough, and Green Economy Canada to launch a local business hub called Green Economy Peterborough.

To measure our own carbon footprint GreenUP has made the commitment to join the local business hub and investigate. As a member of the hub GreenUP conducted a Greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory to understand the carbon emissions that are created through activities that are part of our operations.

The scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions created through GreenUP’s operation were measured to be 1.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year.

As a result of completing a this GHG inventory, we learned that GreenUP has many opportunities to reduce our emissions – through the electrification of our tools and vehicles, increasing our use of active modes for business travel, and by reducing our use of electricity through efficiency in our office.

In addition to looking at our footprint, GreenUP is also working to quantify how our programs are impacting the environment.

In 2020, GreenUP worked with Heather McDiarmid from McDiarmid Climate Consulting to evaluate the climate impact of our programs and develop tools to measure the impact of those programs on an ongoing basis.

Clara measuring a door with a measuring tape.

Reducing emissions through community action is important! GreenUP Registered Home Energy Advisor Clara Blakelock measures the height and width of a door as part of a home energy assessment. Her report will provide a homeowner with quantifiable data about the energy performance of their home and will inform the owner of strategies to reduce emissions. (Photo by Lili Paradi)

One component the climate impact evaluation tells us that “Between 2016 and 2020, GreenUP organized DePave events at five sites, replaced a total of 1,072 m2 of pavement with plantings resulting in 1,505 m3 of storm water diverted per year and 385 kg of reduced water pollution per year.”

Continuing to achieve such a measurable impact on stormwater diversion and reduced water pollution is something the GreenUP team is eager to continue.

In 2022, GreenUP supported five homeowners to complete the City of Peterborough’s Rain Garden Subsidy program. The program offers up to $1,000 to help with the cost of installing a rain garden. Gardens installed this year will divert an additional 272 cubic meters of rain from our storm water system.

Similarly, based on McDiarmid’s report, GreenUP knows that our impact on the next generation is quantifiable. The Grade 8 Transit Quest program saw students take a total of 4,424 trips with their bus passes. Through this program, their parents saved an estimated 14,000 km of driving and avoided the 2.9 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions that driving would have generated.

By taking measure with McDiarmid, we now know how to better quantify the impact of some community programs that GreenUP offers. This allows us to continue delivering our many wonderful programs while making changes that will amplify their climate impact.

A group of people all placing their painted rocks around a newly planted fruit tree.

A single mature tree will sequester about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and store 100 pounds over its lifetime. GreenUP works to inspire and empower environmentally healthy action by encouraging a diversity of activities in the community that curb climate change, including celebrating growing partnerships by planting native trees. (Photo by Jessica Todd)

As GreenUP celebrates our 30th year, we know it has never been more urgent to ensure our efforts are working.

Continuing to measure and track our environmental impact both as a member of GEP and by using internal tracking tools will help GreenUP understand where to improve and adapt our operations, and how to better mitigate our impact on the environment.

We look forward to celebrating our continued positive impact over the next three decades.

GreenUP is here to help you meet your climate action goals with two programs that may be of interest:

 If you are part of an organization that is ready to take climate action, starting by measuring your impact, visit Green Economy Peterborough www.GreenEconomyPeterborough.ca to learn more.

 If you are a homeowner and want to learn how to reduce the emissions from your home, GreenUP also offers home energy assessments https://www.greenup.on.ca/climate-action-at-home/ to help you to identify  actions that can both reduce emissions and save money.

Posted in conservation


City of Peterborough

City of Peterborough

County of Peterborough

County of Peterborough

Green Economy Canada

Green Economy Canada

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Green Economy Peterborough

Green Economy Peterborough