Blog: 2017 Environmental Report

A raptor that landed in the back yard of our office in 2017.

OpenConcept is a Certified B Corporation. We understand that the economy exists within a fragile ecosystem. Capitalism is a powerful force but when it focused exclusively on profits it is also a serious threat to the future of humanity. We think that environmental reporting is something that all organizations should do to help us measure what matters. We put forward our first Environmental Report for 2016 just a few months ago, so this is mostly a matter of releasing our 2017 numbers:

  • Natural Gas: 83 GJ
  • Electricity: 34 GJ
  • Water: 34k L
  • Flights 10718 km or 990 kg of CO2

We used 16 GJ more Natural Gas, the same amount of electricity, 19k L less water and traveled 2189 fewer kilometers than we did in the 2016 fiscal year.

Certainly, 2017 ended with a few deep cold spells of -20C so that could be part of the explanation. I do not have any rationale for using less water in 2017. We added an Ecobee thermostat that was having it’s heat manually overridden (and not disabled at the end) this may account for some wasted heat. We have set up an IFTTT script to override this in 2018. Travel is mostly for conferences and client meetings and not something that we can easily restrict.

In 2018, we plan on paving the driveway and adding eaves troughs to help pull water away from our damp basement. This should help us reduce expenses running dehumidifiers & fans. We also have plans to add insulation to the walls of this 100+ year old building. That should help reduce the cost of heating and cooling the building.

We are still striving to be a carbon-neutral business by 2020. Our Scope 1 and 2 Greenhouse Gas emissions (Gas and Electricity) are both offset through Bullfrog Power. We purchase Gold Standard offsets from Less (a Bullfrog company). So we are addressing the basics.

At the end of 2017 we started experimenting with allowing people to work remotely one day a week. We also provide some flexibility to allow people to avoid traffic congestion in the winter when roads are bad. Still, there is more that can be done to make it easier for people to reduce the GHG emissions connected to commuting to work.

One area where we can improve is on waste diversion strategies. Working with Carbon 613 we’ve seen that there is a big opportunity to direct more of our garbage with efforts to recycle and compost more of our trash. We plan to make it more convenient and simple for people using our building to see that their trash is sorted appropriately. We are a team, but have a lot shipped here.

As part of an open data, smart city initiative by Sensorup we added a particle sensor outside our office to contribute to a community science project to track air quality in Canada. We hosted an event in the fall where Steve Liang came to help a group in Ottawa build these sensors. Natural Resources Canada worked with this startup to help develop an open standard for measuring and sharing data like this, so I am hopeful that it will be more widely adopted. This slightly increases our consumption of electricity (as we are powering a small CPU) but hopefully adds to environmental data that is beneficial for Canadians.

We also started adding light bulbs with light sensors so that we can use sunlight more, and have to remember to the lights off less.

2017 also saw a number of meetings with Members of Parliament (MP) and their staff to talk about the role of B Corporations in meeting the goals of the UN’s Paris climate agreement. I started off meeting with our MP, Catherine McKenna. As Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, this is a huge part of her mandate. I also met with MPs Lloyd Longfield and Francis Drouin, as well as the staff of Jim Carr and Bardish Chagger. Ultimately, if we can’t get the bulk of the economy engaged in thinking about reducing our CO2 emissions, we won’t meet the targets.

In 2017 added the office parking lot to Rover Parking, an innovative company trying to make sharing parking spaces in urban areas easier. OpenConcept’s board room is used by a number of other groups who are organizing events in Ottawa. CivicTech Ottawa, GOSLINGS Open Source Nerds and Nachos, and Ottawa OpenStreetMap are just 3 groups that used our space in 2017.

We also published our Draft Procurement Policy, highlighting efforts that we hope will give us a greener supply chain in 2018. We will be looking for opportunities in 2018 to buy from other BCorp and other sustainable businesses.

The photo is from 2017. It’s a raptor that visited our office one morning in the spring last year. It is great to see these majestic birds return to urban communities.

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