Guide to business climate action

Step 1: Develop understanding

Factoring in the burning of fossils fuels for heat and steam, industrial processes, commercial buildings, and freight transportation, Ontario businesses are directly responsible for the largest share of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the province. 46% of Ontarians believe this already, citing corporations as being primarily responsible for causing climate change.

It’s clear that businesses must act now to reduce GHG pollution. Not only is this what many Ontarians expect, but taking action on climate change through energy management and reducing GHGs happens to be good for business.

Taking a holistic, long-term view of impacts on the environment and society has been shown to have the following benefits to businesses:

  • Reduced costs: Understanding and managing your use of energy, water, paper, and office supplies can lead to better control of operating costs.
  • Increased innovation: The Harvard Business School Journal says “Sustainability is the #1 driver of innovation in business today.” You can be among the first to introduce new, improved products, services, and processes.
  • Increased employee engagement: Demonstrating that you are an equitable employer who supports life balance leads to more satisfied employees: enhancing productivity, and reducing hiring and retention costs.
  • Enhanced brand: Companies find that marketing their environmental success stories can help to set their brands apart. The green consumer market has been growing every year, with perceptions and purchasing of sustainable products seeing positive growth.
  • Reduced management risk: The precedent has been established in Canadian law that directors and senior managers are expected to be aware of their company’s environmental and social impact. Having a sustainability strategy is good insurance.

These tools and resources will help you better understand and communicate the business case for managing energy and environmental impacts.

Tools & Resources


Purposeful Workplace Experiences (PWE) Podcast Series

Hosted by Carolyn Swora, a Workplace Culture Architect, the Purposeful Workplace Experiences (PWE) podcasts are designed to empower individuals and teams to transform workplace culture by becoming change agents and driving culture from the bottom up. Carolyn is on a mission to shift workplaces from transactional jobs to places where people can grow, transform and thrive while feeling energized, inspired and motivated to do their best work.

Author: Carolyn Swora Type: Video, Website

Purpose Governance: A New Role for Boards

Social purpose is business is fast replacing profit as the reason companies continue to exist. Purpose Governance is fast becoming essential to put organizations on a viable path that creates value for the company and the society on which it depends. This report is an introduction and discussion-starter on the emerging role of boards and governance professionals in providing leadership for  corporate social purpose.

Author: Coro Strandberg; Victoria Hurth; Peter ter Weeme; Dave Mowat; Shona McGlashan Type: Guide, Report

Plastic Waste Management for Canadian Municipalities

Practical approaches to waste management in a Circular Economy are widely increasing. Find out the various education initiatives and practices for optimizing plastic, that are being implemented in 5 free webinars.

Sustainability Through Partnerships

This systematic review synthesizes knowledge on multi-sector partnerships for sustainability. Collaboration is one of the keys for unlocking sustainability. This report outlines four factors affecting partnership outcomes: drivers, motivations, partner characteristics and process issues.

Author: Barbara Gray and Jenna P. Stites; Network for Business Sustainability Type: Report

How to Form a Green Team

WWF green team guide provides practical tips on how to create and operate your green team to maximize potential for positive impact.

The Future of Sustainability: Living in Nonlinear Times

Recorded webinar discussing dynamic trends that present opportunities for sustainable development and how to use these trends to effectively strategize and thrive in an uncertain world.

Embedding Sustainability in Organizational Culture

How do we ensure that sustainability remains engrained in the organization after the CEO or sustainability officer leaves? This report addresses this critical question. It is the culmination of a full year’s effort to compile and synthesize the best academic research in the area.

Author: Dr. Stephanie Bertels, Lisa Papania and Daniel Papania, Simon Fraser University; Network for Business Sustainability Type: Report

Profits with purpose: How organizing for sustainability can benefit the bottom line

this article, we discuss the research about the economic benefits of sustainability, the organizational practices businesses
need to follow to make this work and how moving in this direction can create value.

2019 Longitudinal study of the leadership of today and tomorrow

Leaders on Purpose conducts in-depth research with purpose-driven CEOs of multi-national corporations. The work sheds light on how these leaders and their organizations are leveraging their purpose to balance the dual ambitions of business success as well as social and planetary wellbeing.

Author: Leaders On Purpose Type: Report

Sustainability Learning Guide: Barriers and Drivers to Sustainability

The guide adds value to the research by providing practical examples of strategies councils have used to overcome barriers and make the most of key drivers to sustainability. The barriers and drivers are listed broadly in the order of significance identified in the research.

Author: Local Government Association of New South Wales Type: Guide

The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste

The result of an in-depth, year-long research project undertaken, these unprecedented findings are proof of Canada’s hidden crisis of food waste. The total financial value of food lost or wasted somewhere along the supply chain is $49.46 billion. This report identifies the gaps in our food supply system and how we might combat this crisis to serve our communities and environments.

Author: Second Harvest, Value Chain Management International Type: Report

COVID-19 and climate change: an integrated perspective

his paper reflects on what the COVID-19 outbreak has illustrated regarding community vulnerability to crises, with a focus on local economy and production, economic diversification, and social connectivity. The paper argues for integrated approaches to community development that increase our capacity to respond to both public health and climate crises.

Author: Ann Dale, Robert Newell Type: Article, Report

Nature-Based Recovery: A path to a global green recovery

The pandemic has proven that our biggest global challenges cannot be seen or tackled in isolation, they are health, economic, social and environmental challenges all at once – and must be tackled systemically.  The panelists in this webinar explore how our natural world, biodiversity and conservation could hold the answers to a global green recovery. In our ‘business as usual’ scenario.

Discussion points included:

  • Delivering value for people, economies and nature through smarter policy and interventions
  • The role of nature-based solutions in creating a more resilient future
  • Smart policy and interventions for clean job creation
  • Accelerating ecosystem services as a tool for economic recover
Author: Climate Action, Oatly and Capitals Coalition Type: Video

A framework for assessing financial impact of physical climate change

This report is designed to demonstrate how how the tools already used in the insurance industry can help assess financial impacts – specifically the risk of increasing weather-related losses – from climate change. This report can be used by practitioners and firms to develop their own assessment of financial impacts of physical climate change risks in order to understand the impact on specific business decisions. The term ‘physical climate change risks’ is used to refer to this risk of increasing losses – as opposed to other risks from climate change and society’s response to it (such as a fall in the value of assets).

Pandemic: What are the Impacts on Local Economies?

Join Mary Rowe, President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute, for a candid conversation with a panel of business and economics experts on the subject of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on local economies.

Author: Canadian Urban Institute Type: Video

Charting Our Course: Bringing clarity to Canada’s climate policy choices on the journey to 2050

This report takes stock of the current climate policy landscape in Canada and makes the case for how better integration among areas of expertise and conventional policy silos can contribute to a more resilient and prosperous future. The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, is and independent national research of body academics and policy experts to address climate change.

Coastal areas and climate change: A decision support tool for implementing adaptation measures

Based on the lack of operative support and tools for planning urban adaptation in cities, this paper has developed a new index: the Coastal Resilience Index (CoRI). Thanks to the CoRI and to the use of technological innovations applied to urban planning, a decision support tool has been developed to identify adaptation measures aiming to reduce the impacts of coastal flooding, caused by rising sea levels and storm surges.

Author: Carmela Gargiuloa, Rosaria Battarrab, Maria RosaTremiterra Type: Report, Tool

Insurance Coverage in a Climate Changed Canada: How Can Canada Pay for Loss and Damage from Anthropogenic Climate Change

This report looks at the impact of climate change and its associated costs in the Canadian context. It begins by outlining how climate change is predicted to alter the Canadian climate before evaluating how this will affect the insurance industry.Ultimately, it is determined that there are viable combinations of legislation, litigation, taxation, compensation, mitigation, adaptation, and insurance that can better prepare Canada for managing the high costs associated with climate change.

Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice (CCACoP)

The CCACoP is an interactive online community for researchers, experts, policy-makers and practitioners from across Canada can come together to ask questions, generate ideas, share knowledge, and communicate with others working in the field of climate change adaptation. One of the main goals of the CCACoP is to support all Canadian provinces and territories in their efforts to incorporate climate change adaptation into planning and policies.

Veriform Regional Carbon Initiative Case Study

A case study of Veriform, a metal fabrication plant that committed to zero carbon emissions and has subsequently saved over $160,000 a year in energy costs.

Three Reasons Job Seekers Prefer Sustainable Companies

How good corporate citizenship and sustainable business practices attract and help retain top-notch talent for your firm.

Author: David Jones, Chelsea Willness; Network for Business Sustainability Type: Article, Report

Sustainability: Clean, Green…And Good For Business.

Article on how implementing sustainability is good for your business’ reputation.

Whiteboard Session: The Business Case for Sustainability

A video on using a sustainability lens to mitigate risks and drive long-term business value.

The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability

An article outlining the employment, engagement, risk management, branding and financial value created through corporate sustainability programs.

Author: Tensie Whelan, Carly Fink; Harvard Business Review Type: Article

Sustainability How-to Guide: Getting Started

This guide details implementation strategy for sustainable FM programs in existing buildings, providing direction to assess the organization, identify initiatives to determine their value, and implement, measure and monitor program effectiveness.

Author: Christopher Hodges; International Facility Management Association Type: Guide

City of Hamilton Business Energy and Emissions Profile (BEEP) Report

Provides a unique view of Hamilton’s energy use & greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by sector & business activity, with actionable reduction opportunities and case studies.

Author: ClimateSmart, Sustainable Hamilton Burlington, City of Hamilton Type: Report

City of Hamilton Business Energy and Emissions Profile (BEEP) Dashboard

An interactive map tool that let’s you explore Hamilton’s energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by sector, business activity and geographic area.

Author: ClimateSmart, Sustainable Hamilton Burlington, City of Hamilton Type: Tool