our environmental impact
Improving, every day
Our determination to improve our environmental effectiveness every day is paying off. Using better environmental practices and taking daily actions reduce our eco-footprint and are very positive as they mobilize an increasing number of employees who really care about the environment, at the Fonds as well as at home.
For the financial year ended May 31, 2012, we had set several ambitious objectives. They were related to reducing the impact on the environment of our organization's direct operations, which mainly take place at our Montréal head office. If we look back at what we have done and evaluate our efforts and their results, we see that the Fonds de solidarité FTQ progressed during the year in most environment-related areas.
The Green Committee continued its efforts to raise awareness among the employees to encourage them to change certain actions they take and therefore help the organization further reduce its environmental impact. For instance, employees participated in activities organized by the Green Committee together with various organizations, such as the fourth Défi Climat campaign, a conference on residual materials management and information booths on sustainable transportation, including a Bike-to-Work workshop presented by Vélo Québec.
During the last financial year, we reduced our electricity consumption by 8% compared to the previous year: we consumed 22,334 GJ (6,204,000 kWh) of electricity1, compared to 24,276 GJ (6,743,200 kWh) in the previous year.
This improvement is mainly attributable to the installation of much more efficient light fixtures. With this change, the Fonds will be able to benefit from substantial annual savings of 1,318 GJ, according to Hydro-Québec's estimates, or close to 6% (based on consumption for the last financial year). Since this change was completed during the year, the electricity consumption reduction for the financial year ended May 31, 2012 is estimated at 1,100 GJ. This decrease also results in a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of two tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
The optimization of the ventilation systems of our building and the ongoing monitoring of the various mechanical systems of the head office building improved the efficiency of these systems and our electricity consumption.
Measured energy consumption represents the amount of energy effectively consumed in the building during the last financial year, i.e., energy billed by the suppliers.
Natural gas consumption at the head office building was reduced by 68% (708 GJ for the last financial year, compared to 2,181 GJ for the previous financial year). This reduction is mainly attributable to two factors: the increased use of the new heat pump, which recuperates a very large portion of the energy used for air conditioning and meets a major part of the heating needs of the building, and a relatively milder winter (decrease in heating degree-days).
This also reduced GHG emissions, as we significantly decreased our natural gas consumption.
Fuel oil and propane
Fuel oil consumption remains rather stable over the years, totalling 121 GJ for each of the past three years. Our propane consumption was 14 GJ for the last financial year, compared to 11 GJ for the previous year. These two sources only provide a very small portion of the energy used at head office.
Therefore, during the past financial year, we improved our energy efficiency by 12% compared to the prior year, when measured using adjusted energy consumption1.
Adjusted energy consumption takes into account changes in temperatures from one year to the next. It corresponds to the energy that would have been consumed if the temperature had been equal to the average temperature from 1971 to 2000, which is the benchmark used to adjust annual energy consumption. Temperature differences between years are therefore eliminated since consumption is based on the same temperature benchmark, making it possible to determine whether our energy efficiency has improved.
Water consumption, which stood at 32,200 cubic metres for the year, increased by approximately 4% compared to the prior financial year as we had to use the building's humidification system more. We changed the settings of this system to decrease the amount of water used without reducing the comfort of the occupants.
However, the installation of more efficient water savers on kitchen and bathroom faucets reduced the consumption related to these fixtures by approximately 30%.
It should be noted that we consume water solely for domestic purposes. Furthermore, waste water is sent to the sewer system. The Fonds does not release any residual materials in the environment. In addition, the Fonds did not incur any fines or sanctions for environmental matters.
With the implementation of measures aimed principally at reducing our consumption of paper and other materials (ink cartridges, paper towels, tissue paper and kitchen supplies), we have decreased our consumption by 13% compared to the previous financial year (145 tonnes compared to 166 tonnes). In addition, we have maintained our percentage of consumed materials derived from recycled materials at 94%.
During the last financial year, to further reduce its paper consumption, the Fonds started to distribute environmental information to its employees in a "greener" way: such information is now posted on the intranet.
The Fonds de solidarité FTQ is also making efforts to send electronically, rather than in hard copy format, information that is useful to our local representatives (LRs). Furthermore, we have designed electronic applications for our shareholders, including online subscription.
As a responsible citizen, the Fonds promotes regional and local procurement. It favours suppliers that have sound social and environmental practices, and it considers their environmental efficiency and the environmental characteristics of their products and services using the 4Rs principles: reduce consumption, reuse products, recycle products and reclaim residual materials.
Québec companies must now comply with the Québec Residual Materials Management Policy and the resulting 2011-2015 Action Plan1. This plan sets out specific goals with respect to residual materials management, namely reclaiming 70% of paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal waste as well as 60% of organic waste.
Wanting to meet these objectives and therefore reduce the quantity of waste sent to landfills, the Fonds commissioned a characterization study of its head office waste. This study is an essential procedure to the assessment of our situation in accordance with government criteria.
The objectives of this study were to:
Determine the quantity and composition of residual materials generated at head office, by detailing this information for each originating area and collection means;
Measure the recycling rate;
Compare the results with the government's 2011-2015 Action Plan;
Recommend concrete actions to improve the recycling program already in place.
Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (2010). Québec Residual Materials Management Policy, 13 pages, http://www.mddep.gouv.qc.ca/matieres/pgmr/presentation_en.pdf; Québec Residual Materials Management Policy - 2011-2015 Action Plan, 5 pages, http://www.mddep.gouv.qc.ca/matieres/pgmr/plan-action_en.pdf.
The results show that the recycling rates for office paper, mixed paper and cardboard are 98%, 84.7% and 89.6%, respectively, which exceed the goals of the 2011-2015 Action Plan. The recycling rate for glass has almost been reached, but the rates for plastic, metal and putrescible waste are currently below the Plan's goals.
During the last financial year, we increased the quantity of recycled materials (70 tonnes) by 35% compared to the previous year (52 tonnes).
During the last financial year, the Green Committee provided a lot of information on residual materials management, notably through Lunch & Learn sessions and the Info environnement newsletter. Topics covered included changes to be made to reduce residual materials at source, such as the elimination of plastic glasses as well as coffee cups, their lids and cup sleeves. Other concrete actions in this area will be taken during the next financial year.
As a result of implementing these various measures and the awareness-raising activities for its employees and the tenants of its head office building, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ has recently been awarded the Level 2 - Implementation certification of the ICI ON RECYCLE! program. Recyc-Québec hence recognizes the efforts of the Fonds to soundly manage residual materials at its head office.
During the last financial year, several projects were developed so that employees can favour more public transportation and active transportation (cycling and walking). We organized several information booths in collaboration with the Centre de gestion des déplacements, a not-for-profit organization specializing in sustainable transportation. The various topics covered included:
- - The benefits of using public and active transportation;
- - The use and promotion of carpooling;
- - The promotion of the Public Transit: TRY IT ON program1;
- - The use of BIXI bicycles.
The Fonds offers its employees incentive programs to encourage them to use public transportation to get to work. For work-related travel, new measures were undertaken to promote public transportation in order to reduce the number of kilometres travelled by car and, consequently, GHG emissions.
This program allows employees who drive to work alone to try public transportation (bus, metro, commuter train) to get to work during three months at a reduced price.
During the last financial year, GHG emissions totalled 1,015 tonnes compared to 1,057 tonnes for the prior year1.
As shown in the table below, these emissions are mainly attributable to the Fonds' business transportation (planes, cars and taxis). Business transportation generated substantially all of the 4 tonnes of air pollutant emissions for the year: NOx (nitrogen oxides), SOx (sulfur oxides), particulate matter 10 and VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
gas emissions (GHG)
For GHG emissions related to electricity, Hydro-Québec reports an emission factor for the calendar year (January 1 to December 31). As this factor for the period from January to May is not available when we prepare our annual report, we must use the prior year's emission factor.
GHG emissions were lower than the data that was reported last year, as the Hydro-Québec factor that had been used was 0.013635 kg CO2/kWh, compared to the 2011 actual factor of 0.006501 kg CO2/kWh. Consequently, GHG emissions for electricity consumption from January to May 2011 have been adjusted.