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


How Business Climate Action Can Reduce Environmental Racism

Five ways businesses can lead climate justice and social as the economy transitions to net zero.

Creating a Conscious Consumer Base

“Companies that introduce sustainable offerings face a frustrating paradox: Most consumers report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly products and services, but they often seem unwilling to follow through with their wallets.”

Author: 2019 | Katherine White, David J. Hardisty, Rishad Habib Type: Article, Case study, Guide

Canada Goose Corporate Greenwash Case Study

This report “aims to raise awareness of corporate greenwashing, drawing attention to issues that progress the trend of individualized responsibility and consumption, while concealing the social and (eco)systemic issues in the process”.

Author: 2020 | James Gacek, University of Regina Type: Case study, Report

How to Overcome Circular Economy Challenges

Creating a circular economy requires involvement from businesses, the public sector, and researchers. Canada’s “Our Food Future” provides a model. Livestream video embedded within.

Author: 2016 | Network for Business Sustainability; City of Guelph, Barb Swartzentruber; Western Ivey Business School, Jury Gualandris Type: Article, Video

Federal & Provincial Investment Confirm Hamilton is LRT Ready

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce congratulates the federal and provincial governments for working together to fund the B-Line LRT project that will run from McMaster University to Centennial Parkway. (May 13 2021). News video responding to the announcement embedded within article.

Author: 2021 | Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Type: Article, Video

CEO Guide to the SDGs

A high-level guide developed by and for business leaders setting out clear actions to galvanize SDG engagement.

Author: 2017 | World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Type: Guide

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

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.

Author: 2019 | Canadian Federation of Municipalities Type: Video

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: 2013 | Network for Business Sustainability, Barbara Gray and Jenna P. Stites Type: Report

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.

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

In 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.

Transition to a Purpose First Economy-Leaders on Purpose

Annual 2020 Leaders on Purpose report on the future of purpose driven economies. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the relationship between business and public health. Purpose-driven organizations are well positioned to rise to this challenge by leveraging their purpose to balance the dual ambitions of business success as well as social and planetary wellbeing.

Leaders on Purpose conducts in-depth research with purpose-driven CEOs of multi-national corporations.

Author: 2020 | Leaders On Purpose Type: Report

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: 2012 | Local Government Association of New South Wales Type: Guide

The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste

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

Author: 2019 | Second Harvest; Value Chain Management International Type: Report

COVID-19 and climate change: an integrated perspective

This 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: 2020 | Robert Newell, Ann Dale 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: 2020 | 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 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. The panel includes:

-Mark Garner, Downtown Yonge (Toronto) BIA
-Bruce Katz, Drexel University, Washington, D.C.
-Mary Moran, Calgary Economic Development
-Patrick Sullivan, Halifax Chamber of Commerce
-Karen Wong, TAKULabs (Toronto)

Author: 2020 | 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.

Author: 2020 | Canadian Institute for Climate Choices Type: Article, Report, Website

Climate Change Toolkit for Healthcare Professionals

Eight modules which have been prepared as stand-alone documents that can be read by themselves, but they have also been prepared to complement one another. It has been designed as a tool for healthcare works who want to engage more directly on the issue of climate change as educators with their patients, peers and communities, and/or as advocates for the policies, programs and practices needed to mitigate climate change and/or prepare for climate change in their workplaces and communities.

Author: Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment; Kim Perrotta, et al Type: Guide

The Intersection of Financial Risk and Climate Resilience

James McMahon, CEO of The Climate Service, and a panel of experts, explain why climate risk is not only material, but also measurable and manageable. The panel includes:

-Joyce Coffee, ASU Global Institute for Sustainability
-Kurt Forsgren, S&P Global
-James McMajon, The Climate Service
-Samantha Medlock, Willis Towers Watson
-Edward Saltzberg, Security & Sustainability Forum\
-Michelle Wyman, National Council for Science & the Environment

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.

Author: Climate Risk Institute Type: Website

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Compass

Provides guide and tools for organizations to: align their business strategies, identify indicators, and measure and manage their progress towards the realization of SDG goals.

Author: UN Global Compact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Type: Guide, Tool, Website

Go Green Hotels: Green Ideas for Hotels and Resorts

This page lists sustainable ideas for green hotels and resorts, covering topics such as staff engagement, water and energy, recycling and waste, building maintenance, food services, garden, gift shop, purchases, and guests guest rooms.

Author: Global Stewards Type: Checklist, Website

Trees Mean Business

Trees make city streets more beautiful. But are improved aesthetics the only benefits that trees provide in a community? Recent research shows that people’s reactions to trees can have positive effects on everything from the market value of homes to traffic safety. One of the most little-known facts about trees’ effects is the importance of their impact on central business districts. Downtown districts are the places where small businesses meet the everyday needs of nearby residents, and are the soul of a community. They significantly contribute to the local economy and provide jobs. Trees help make these places more welcoming and appealing.

Author: 2013 | Invest from the Ground Up; Nancy Hughes Type: Article

High Performance Buildings: Achieving Superior Performance for Life

Discussion of high-performance building approach that is holistically technology-enabled and knowledge-based, using proven processes, computer modeling, diagnostic testing and predictive technologies to optimize the triple bottom line.

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.

Author: 2015 | Sustainable Waterloo Region, Veriform Metal Fabricating Type: Case study

Three Reasons Job Seekers Prefer Sustainable Companies

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

Author: 2013 | 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.

The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability

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

Author: 2016 | Harvard Business Review; Tensie Whelan, Carly Fink Type: Article

Redefining Sustainable Business: Management for a Rapidly Changing World

Many companies continue to struggle to incorporate sustainability into their strategies, governance, and management structures. This report provides a blueprint for putting sustainability at the center of business to enable companies to play their full part in the creation of a just and sustainable world. It focuses on how sustainability is implemented inside companies.

City of Hamilton BEEP Report

Provides a unique view of Hamilton’s Business Energy and Emissions Profile (BEEP) by sector and business activity, with actionable reduction opportunities and case studies.

Author: 2017 | Sustainable Hamilton Burlington; City of Hamilton; ClimateSmart Type: Report

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

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

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