APRIL 9, 2008 (VANCOUVER) – Vancouver City Savings Credit Union is the first North American-based financial institution to be carbon neutral, the credit union announced today.
Being carbon neutral means that the CO2 emissions Vancity creates are now equal to the emissions it has reduced or offset elsewhere.
This goal, which the Vancity Group, including Citizens Bank of Canada, voluntarily set in 2006 for 2010, was achieved early through a rigorous emissions reduction program focusing on energy use, staff travel, paper consumption and waste.Over the last 10 years, Vancity cut its energy use by 50 per cent,incidents of staff commuting to work by driving alone by 13 per cent, and its paper consumption by 30 per cent saving well over $2 million in energy costs alone.
What it couldn’t reduce, it offset by investing in high-quality, verified emission reduction projects, in British Columbia and beyond.
To celebrate hitting its carbon neutral target, Vancity is ‘paying it forward’ by helping other organizations shrink their own carbon footprints.
It will do this by paying for 25 small-to-medium-sized businesses to participate in Ecotrust Canada’s Climate Smart Workgroups, launched last year in partnership with the Pembina Institute to help organizations calculate and reduce their CO2 emissions.
Vancity will also help other organizations fight climate change by sharing its tools and processes around how it achieved carbon neutrality on its website.
The announcements were made at a celebration event at Vancity Centre where a new banner was unveiled that declares Vancity carbon neutral. The banner will be recycled into fabric bags once its primary lifespan is over.
At the event, CEO Tamara Vrooman said that Vancity’s emissions are now 50 per cent lower per employee than the average Canadian financial institution and assured them that this is only the beginning.
"We may have achieved our goal to be carbon neutral, but this is just one step on our journey," Vrooman said. "Reducing our emissions is integral to how we do business. Our focus is now on staying carbon neutral and continuing to reduce our emissions, as well as setting new goals to challenge ourselves and other organizations to raise their game in fighting climate change."
Vrooman was joined by Canadian climate change activist David Suzuki, who recognized employees for their commitment to helping Vancity meet its goal.
"We all need to work together to solve the problem of global warming and I applaud Vancity for taking a leadership role," said Dr. Suzuki. "By cutting emissions and going carbon neutral, Vancity is making a difference. Just as importantly, they’re helping set a positive example for other businesses and organizations to follow."
Vancity Board of Directors Chair Patrice Pratt says Vancity is hoping that other businesses take up the charge.
"We’ve been doing this for a long time – since the early ’90s – back when green was just a colour, and we can assure you that in addition to being good for the environment, it’s good for our business too. We’ve not only reduced our impact on climate change and helped our members do the same, but we’ve saved money."
About Vancouver City Savings Credit Union
Vancity is Canada’s largest credit union, with $14.1 billion in assets, 392,000 members, and 59 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility and to improving the quality of life in the communities where they live and work.
For further information: Media Contacts: Jane MacCarthy, Vancity media relations, (604) 877-4539, (778) 837-0394, Jane_maccarthy@vancity.com; Sara Holland, Tartan Public Relations, Vancouver, (604) 609-0219, (604) 880-1494,email@example.com