Since Earth Day on April 22, the Green Business Spotlight has shined on twelve green businesses in Burnaby Heights. Every business we’ve told you about has developed its own practices to help the environment by leaving a smaller footprint and providing sustainable, local shopping options for customers. These businesses ranged from beauty salons, to health and fitness services, pet stores, travel services, and restaurants, proving that there are no limits to having an eco-friendly business model. Now, it’s time for our “Green Business Leaders” to enter the spotlight.
These next four businesses in Burnaby Heights have ten or more sustainable business practices built into everyday operations and long-term plans. The first Leader to share its story is Vancity Burnaby Heights community branch. From the business building itself, to reducing single-use waste, and the very green décor, Vancity Burnaby Heights community branch is committed to “taking green interiors to new Heights.”
Cleaning the air with the living wall
From the front entrance all the way to the back offices, there are many sustainable practices in action throughout the branch. Standing from the floor to the ceiling, the living wall (pictured) is the most vibrant of them all. It helps improve the air quality in the building – along with many more potted plants throughout the branch. For the walls that do not have locally sourced rock and wood, they are painted with non-VOC water-based paint. VOCs are harmful chemicals that are emitted from the paint, which contains carbon.
Reducing single-use waste
Nita Tuan, the Youth Credit Union Coordinator at Vancity Burnaby Heights community branch, says all she needs at her desk is a tiny trash bin (as pictured below). She and all of the employees at the branch make an effort to reduce printouts or receipts and instead keep digital records. For anything that must be thrown away, there are recycling and compost bin stations for customers in the branch (they even have a used-battery collection bin, so batteries can be responsibly disposed of). As well, they have taken a unique approach to deposit bags for customers. Instead of the conventional plastic bags that customers place their deposits in, the branch pays attention to detail by using cloth bags instead (pictured below).
Using sustainable décor
Not only are the walls made from sustainable materials, but the flooring, chairs, and countertops are too. The carpet is made from 49 percent post-industrial waste, and now eight years old, it still looks brand new! In other spaces, the flooring (as pictured below) contains wood with post-consumer recycled content and naturally polished river rocks. As well, there is décor in the branch created by an artist from the Gulf Islands as part of the branch’s efforts to buy local and not bring in pieces from afar. Lastly, the countertops are Marmoleum, which is made from renewable materials such as linseed oil, rosin, wood flour, and jute.
Overall, Vancity Burnaby Heights community branch has committed to
- Using LED and motion sensor lighting (instead of conventional lighting).
- Having office furniture that is made out of recycled materials.
- Using timed thermostats with geo-thermal heating to reduce energy consumption.
- Installing green-energy infrastructure at the branch.
- Using all-natural cleaning supplies in its business’ janitorial applications.
- Permitting employees to work from home 1x per week or more to reduce fuel emissions and road congestion.
- Discouraging paper receipts (thermal paper is plasticized and not recyclable).
- Using at least 75% locally based vendors and suppliers.
- Rewarding employees for greener habits with many incentives to encourage them to commute without a car. These incentives are the Transit Pass Program, New Bike, Pedal-assist Bike, and Maintenance Program for those signing the Green Commute Pledge for Vancity employees. Walking is also encouraged for those living nearby. There are also subsidies (subject to limits) for employees wanting to purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle.
- Investing (with the Vancity company as a whole) in businesses producing green products and services so that they are very aware of what they should be doing in the branch. They recognize the impact that the built environment has on climate change, so they not only finance green buildings but operate their branch by always taking the environment into consideration. In recognition of this, they received the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold award from the Canada Building Council. The award’s criteria is available online.
- Having a building that is constructed with sustainable materials, such as locally quarried stones, naturally polished river rocks, pine-beetle affected wood, non-VOC water-based paint, and furniture certified for indoor quality. Many of the building materials were made from recycled elements. For example, the countertops and service-area flooring are Marmoleum, made from renewable materials such as linseed oil, rosid, wood flour, and jute. There are also many plants and the living wall that improves the indoor air quality.
- Looking for small ways to help the environment. For example, they use mugs instead of one-use paper cups for beverages. At Christmas time, their staff’s gifts are wrapped in brown paper instead of non-recyclable Christmas wrap. When they offer SWAG, they choose ethically sourced items such as sets of stainless-steel straws or gift-cards for local merchants.
- Discouraging hardcopies of documents whenever appropriate. The small plastic baggies that their tellers use for cash have now been replaced with white, unbleached drawstring bags that can be used repeatedly.
The green business practices at Vancity Burnaby Heights community branch are both functional and respectful to the environment. The recyclable materials in the building will last forever, and not just be a short-term trend. Stay tuned for the next “Green Business Leaders” to shine under the Green Business Spotlight. Follow along on Instagram and Facebook for more green features and tidbits!