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MAY 29, 2020
SUSTAINABILITY IN THE AGE OF POST COVID-19
Since my last blog there have been many changes in the business environment for members due to the pandemic. While there have been a number of programs to help our businesses with support payments, loans and other business incentives, none of these are going to fully provide for the losses, turmoil, hardship and deaths this pandemic has caused.
As we reopen our businesses there will be new rules regarding social distancing, cleaning and other health related requirements that will cost money to install and follow. As well, our electricity costs will return to previous time of use rates and the fossil fuel costs will begin to rise. As we now have to use our building space wisely, and possibly reconfigure the spaces, we need to also address the changes in the energy systems like the Lighting, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Water that should be adjusted for the new loads and profile of use.
The recovery funds are going to allow for a number of job creation programs and recalling laid off staff that know the business and the buildings offers an opportunity to have them work on the recovery changes in both the business demands and the energy and water cost that can be lowered with retrofit investment and incentives in both capital and operating solutions.
Here is the latest job creation potential figure suggested by Julia Langer of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund in her recent newsletter.
“After decades of demonstrating the benefits of energy efficiency retrofits in buildings, we are seeing unprecedented support across government, industry, and advocates for scaled up investment. Many experts are recommending that the federal government include retrofits in a post-pandemic stimulus package. And these recommendations are resonating because they boast powerful job creation numbers and significant additional public benefits. For example, the $1.7 billion allocated to clean up orphan oil wells (an initiative we support) is expected to create 10,000 job-years; based on these numbers, we’ve calculated the same investment in energy efficiency would directly and indirectly create at least three times more. “
David Katz, MBA
President & CEO
Sustainable Resources Management Inc.
March 25, 2020 - PLANNING FOR SUSTAINABILITY
There are many reasons the members of the Richmond Hill Board of Trade should take action on the sustainability growth opportunities. The City has adopted the staff report SRPRS.20.011 Richmond Hill Climate Change Actions that outlines the many initiatives undertaken that are in the interests of our businesses as climate change impacts our businesses and community. There is a Community Energy + Emissions Plan being developed and the Board of Trade has stakeholder representation on the Advisory Committee.
It is in our business interests to manage risks and to generate real business value through cost savings. There is growing client interest in sustainability. Demonstrating environmental and corporate leadership contributes to a competitive advantage as sustainability becomes a factor in the businesses that clients and customers choose. As well, some prospective employees also consider the business sustainability actions as a factor in where they work. A recent National Research Council study 'Improving Organizational Productivity with Building Automation Systems’ for the Continental Automated Buildings Association shows the benefits of an energy efficient and environmentally controlled and comfortable workplace on business productivity.
Get a sustainability commitment from senior management. There are many available seminars and reports that highlight how to build a business case for energy savings that will get approved.
Immediately implement low-cost efficiency measures. These are easy to do and provide an immediate sense of accomplishment. Think of the energy wasted when lights are left on and no one is in the space and water wasted when taps are running while scrubbing our hands. Signs in the room and occupancy sensors and automated shut off taps are possible applications as well as sealing up window leaks and other areas of wasted resources.
Conduct an energy and water audit. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. An audit will identify how and where energy and water is utilized, what it costs and where you can make improvements. Based on your energy and water costs and the complexities of their usage, choose the right level of audit (Self or Professional) for your business.
Create an energy and water management plan. Analyze costs of short term and long term actions, and then prioritize them for implementation. Find ways to measure progress and update your ROI requirements and equipment specifications as required.
If applicable your business or building may be required to report your energy and water usage under the following regulation. https://www.ontario.ca/document/guide-energy-and-water-reporting
There is the perception that GREEN investments cost too much. However with advances in technology and their much lower costs while energy costs are rising and with the addition of carbon pricing, the return on investment in energy saving projects has increased significantly. As well there are still utility incentives that lower the initial investment costs and improve the return on investment. The electrical conservation programs provided previously by PowerStream have been discontinued and all new applications are under the new IESO program at this site.
Enbridge still offers incentives for gas customers and also carries out some of the programs that have both gas and electrical savings like the demand control ventilation for kitchen hoods. These can be found at this site.
York Region has a number of business incentives that can be found at Water Saving Incentives For Businesses
All the reporting regulations and incentive programs require a level of qualification and audit documentation. For many businesses with potential energy and water savings, they do not have the expertise to perform the energy and water audits and evaluate the measures for improvement with and without incentives.
As a member of the Board of Trade and the Sustainability Working Group our firm is interested in assisting Board of Trade members with their sustainability activities. For those members without their own energy and water management expertise, our firm can offer an initial review of your energy and water bills as part of an initial free consultation on our sustainable solutions.
For more information contact:
David Katz, MBA
President & CEO
Sustainable Resources Management Inc.
Tel: 416-493-9232 Cell: 416-618-4651
March 16, 2020
Death and Taxes are not the Only Certain Things in Life....so are Rising Insurance Premiums Due to Climate Change
There are many climate change-related topics being discussed these days, because our economy is intertwined with energy and resources and affected by extreme weather events such as droughts, fires, floods and ice storms. The “canary in the coal mine” of climate change related topics in business predictions is that which is happening in the insurance industry - insurance bureaus are in deep discussion with climate change advisory groups, climate change is having financially damaging effects on us, and insurance rates are rising. Learning more about how climate change will impact us through our insurance companies should be considered must reading for everyone!
Climate change is affecting and being discussed in so many areas of our lives these days. As the average global temperatures rise, and the amount of energy trapped in our atmosphere warms the planet, more mega problems are happening.... mega-storms, mega-droughts, and mega-fires, not to mention potential mega-food-security problems. As businesses, homes, and municipal infrastructure are damaged or destroyed by extreme weather events caused by climate change, the insurance companies are being called upon to reimburse the costs.
For 30 years now, we’ve known about the greenhouse gases accumulating and trapping heat within our planet, like air under the blanket that gets a little too hot by the middle of the night as you sleep. Many companies are trying to become more “eco-friendly” so as to gain favour with sustainability-minded consumers. Some are truly trying to reduce their energy use or switch to alternatives so they can contribute to the solution for climate change, which is to decrease and then draw down the emissions of carbon dioxide, for example, that results from burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Even the City of Richmond Hill, a corporation that operates much like a business, is working on a “Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP)” that will look at finding solutions. What companies also need to consider, is how their insurance premiums will be affected. A “canary in the coal mine” is a phrase used in the coal-mining industry to warn of noxious fumes - the miner would take a canary into the mine and if the canary died, then that would be a warning for the miners to get out immediately. When the insurance companies start raising their premiums due to risks of extreme weather, this is a “canary in the coal mine” tell-tale warning sign that it is time for us to learn more about how climate change is affecting our insurance.
Have you read the fine print of your insurance policy these days? What does it say about climate change-related risks, preventive measures, and premiums? How will your insurance rates be affected? Even if you personally do not have direct exposure to climate-related risks, you can be quite sure that your rates have already increased because of overall climate change risk. Janine Purves, of Assante Financial Management, says this: “It’s important to know and understand your coverage. For example, in some cases, items that are an ACT of GOD are not covered. What does this entail for your policy? Has it changed? Always ensure when you get your renewal, this is checked. For both home and auto. Keep in mind the extreme conditions of freezing and thawing have also caused increased road challenges, which can also do harm to your car. These are things that are costing industries money, and increasing our rates, and frequently reducing our coverage. Be aware. Put steps in place to mitigate your issues. For example, if you have a newly formed pond in your backyard, review your bylaws, and try to do what you can to ensure damage is not done to your home.
For more information, these links (and the links they lead to) will give any interested reader plenty of food for thought:
Climate change will affect all the areas of our lives, and realizing that the insurance industry is recognizing the “clear and present danger” to their bottom line is a warning sign that we need to figure out whether our own bottom line will be affected, and indeed covered by potential “climate claims” of our future.
DRAWDOWN Richmond Hill, Lead Organizer
Transition York Region (Treemobile), Liaison
Targeting Climate Change Richmond Hill, Speaker and Panelist
Neighbours for the Planet, Blogger
Richmond Hill Board of Trade, Member - Government Sustainability Sub-Committee
February 12, 2020
Welcome to the Richmond Hill Board of Trade’s Sustainability Blog.
In an ongoing effort to support Richmond Hill’s business community, the Board’s sustainability working group is taking steps toward providing its members with relevant, proven and practical resources in addressing environmental challenges.
By now, climate change is widely recognized as a scientific fact with its impact on our daily lives, our communities, and the broader global economic landscape. While there are concrete and tangible steps that can be taken to turn the tide, many of the available solutions are seen as disruptive measures in the short term. Perhaps it is the short term price that has made it so difficult for governments, corporations, and individuals to take the necessary steps and pay the short term price. RHBOT’s Sustainability Working Group understands this reality and will be taking practical steps in supporting our local business communities to make the necessary changes to create a sustainable business community. Our guiding principle will be practicality over lofty ambition.
Over the coming months, you will hear from a number of subject matter experts in different fields and from different disciplines who will provide practical and actionable recommendations and resources for making our business community more resilient and competitive.
If you are interested in contributing to our Sustainability Blog, please get in touch with Ramin Faraji at