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New Calgary non-profit says reducing carbon emissions can trim business operating costs

A new non-profit helping local businesses shrink their carbon footprint has launched in Calgary.

It’s called Green Economy Calgary, and it’s downtown office will serve as a business hub for fee-paying members.

Green Economy Calgary’s hub manager Ryan Bates says reducing emissions can help businesses bring down operating costs.

“We’re helping them and supporting them to come up with an action plan to make reductions in those emissions,” Bates said.

“We’re actively measuring those businesses’ progress in terms of carbon emissions reduction that they’re making.”

The non-profit says reducing harmful environmental impacts can also help mitigate business risks, bring in new customers and help attract and top workforce talent.

One-on-one business planning support, educational workshops and a peer network are all part of their offering.

Nationwide network expands to Calgary

Green Economy Calgary is part of a larger network of nine similar local hubs across the country, including in Edmonton. They’re all led by Green Economy Canada.

The Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, an environmental charity, is providing some funding to Calgary’s new hub.

“I think it provides a competitive advantage,” said Alberta Ecotrust Foundation CEO Pat Letizia.

“The Calgary hub allows small and medium businesses the opportunity that larger corporations and other entities have around the world. They don’t have the dollars to invest in large emissions reduction strategies or monitoring.”

A man, a woman and another man pose for a photograph standing in front of a display board
City of Calgary Climate Mitigation Manager, Dick Ebersohn, left, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation CEO, Pat Letizia, centre, and Green Economy Calgary Hub Manager, Ryan Bates, right. (CBC)

The City of Calgary is also putting up some money. Dick Ebersohn is the City’s Climate Mitigation Manager. He says this program fills a missing gap to help small and medium-sized businesses become environmental leaders.

According to Ebersohn, this leadership could attract other like-minded business owners to Calgary and provide a city-wide economic boost.

“We are telling the world to come to us,” said Ebersohn.

Efficient upgrades can pay off long-term

Some local business owners have already signed up as members. Including owner of Devour Catering, J’Val Shuster.

Shuster has been actively looking for ways to reduce her company’s carbon footprint for the past few years.

Nearly five years ago when Shuster built a new business kitchen, she opted for energy-efficient LED lighting, and installed high-efficiency compressors and ventilation systems. She says those choices have made her business less expensive to run.

“From a business perspective, what I find really interesting about the transition is that you can think ‘oh gosh I’ve got to give up my old ways of doing things.’ But sometimes the new way is actually less expensive,” says Shuster.

Hub Manager Ryan Bates says Shuster has the exact attitude towards openness to change he is hoping for from members. This week, Bates welcomed in the first members at Green Economy Calgary’s launch event, and he is looking for more businesses to join this summer.

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