Impact and Reporting

Following sustainable practices to track our footprint and remain accountable





At CBC/Radio-Canada our main environmental impact is that of resource usage primarily through our real estate buildings. In the last number of years we have massively reduced our building portfolio by selling and leasing sites while also optimizing our current space requirements.

As of March 31, 2017, CBC/Radio-Canada’s Real Estate portfolio includes 76 sites (16 owned and 60 leased) that house our production studios, transmission infrastructures and office spaces.

As part of our infrastructure strategy we continued to reduce our building footprint in fiscal year 2016-2017.

Some of the building projects achieved include the following:

  1. We reduced our footprint to 3,850,000 square feet in 2016-2017, a reduction of 50,000 square feet from the year before.
  2. We sold our Moncton site.
  3. We opened our new London and Iqaluit sites.

We understand the direct relationship between our building and carbon footprints, hence the fewer buildings we operate the lower our environmental impact. The best way to examine this relationship is in our environmental scorecard . In the last five years, we have drastically reduced our occupied surface area, which, in turn, has led to notable reductions in fuel, water and electricity usage across CBC/Radio-Canada. The newer facilities have more eco-friendly designs, which, in turn, improves our resource efficiency into the future. Our Real Estate department is constantly looking for opportunities to minimize our space requirements – from modern open-plan office designs to conceptual multi-use areas.

This type of thinking creates a multitude of benefits for the Corporation, including:

  1. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  2. Reduced utility consumption and cost
  3. Increased property revenue
  4. Reduced waste generation
  5. Improved annual environmental performance.

In areas where we have no plans to sell or downsize we persistently look at ways and ideas to improve our environmental performance. These initiatives are showcased in the In the Green Spotlight section.

Our Transmission division is always on the lookout for ways to reduce. In fiscal year 2015-2016 this included the complete decommissioning of our analogue television services, a major achievement for the Corporation. In 2016-2017 further transmission accomplishments included the sale of our Sackville NB; Taylor, BC; Irishtown, NL; Midway, BC; Fort Qu’Appelle, SK; Sioux Lookout AM, ON; McArthur’s Mills, ON; Ucluelet, BC; Pouce Coupe, BC; Cypress Hills, SK; New Ross, NS; and Bowen Island, BC sites. The relocation of our maintenance base in Quebec City resulted in a reduction of space from 8,319 square feet to 4,385 square feet.

Cooling Systems, Generators and Heating Systems

Generators are a crucial necessity for CBC/Radio-Canada. In the event of any emergency or power outage we must always have the ability to broadcast.

The key thing to note with regards to our generators is that the capacity represents the total potential power supply, not the actual annual usage. Our capacity need is determined using a risk-based approach, taking into consideration heating/cooling and production requirements. As with many vehicle engines, generators have become more and more efficient with better design and operating functions. This means that although our capacity may increase to better cope with power demands, because the generators are more eco-friendly, the environmental impact is much lower than with the older generators.

We are taking a graduated approach with our generators and space heating/cooling systems. We endeavour to continually review and upgrade where feasible.

In 2016-2017, the Corporation operated 148 generators. While new systems were installed and others were removed due to decommissioning or the sale of our sites, the total estimated capacity for our generators was 24,972 kW, a decrease of 400 kW over last year. It should be noted that an increase in capacity does not mean an increase in usage, but rather signifies our ability to meet system demands, as required. The same can be said for a decrease in capacity.

Our space heating/cooling systems maintain a constant level of thermal comfort throughout the seasons for all our employees and equipment (broadcasting and transmission-related).

The estimated total cooling capacity of our cooling systems remained constant with a variance of 278 tons. A total of 457 cooling systems were operated, down from 464 the previous year. We also demonstrated a decrease in the number of heating systems, from 51 to 47.

Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products

Petroleum products and storage tanks – both above ground and underground – are utilized to hold a reserve of fuel for heating systems or, more importantly, to supply power in the event of a failure.

As an owner and operator of above ground and underground fuel storage tanks across Canada, CBC/Radio-Canada complies with the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations. A total of 23 storage tank systems are subject to these regulations for tanks greater than 2,500 litres.

In terms of our environmental management system, the transfer of fuel into our storage tank systems is our highest potential environmental risk across the Corporation. As a proactive and preventative measure, CBC/Radio-Canada has implemented standard operating procedures for each product transfer area using a risk management approach to avert soil and groundwater contamination.

Annually, we look at our storage tank needs and, where possible, we upgrade and decrease the number within the Corporation. This constant review and upgrade program reduces the environmental risk associated with potential spillages, thus future proofing our environmental management system.

The total corporate results indicate an overall reduction in the number of tanks from 193 to 181, with a decrease of 40% in the overall total capacity or 12 fewer storage tanks across the corporation. In the last year, the Transmission division saw a reduction of 5,754 litres in capacity due to a decrease in its total storage tank inventory from 142 to 139 tanks. Real Estate Services operated a total of 42 tanks in fiscal year 2016-2017. Compared to the previous year, the total capacity for storage tanks operated by Real Estate Services decreased by 77,478 litres to 114,831 litres.

In the autumn of 2016, the Health, Safety and Environmental department completed an environmental audit of the fuel storage tank transfer process at our Mont Royal transmission site in Montreal. The transfer was assessed against the standard operating procedure implemented by CBC/Radio-Canada. The audit involved observing the transfer of fuel from the delivery vehicle to the 5,000 litre underground storage tank and the actions of those involved. Throughout the process, both CBC/Radio-Canada’s technician and the fuel delivery operator conformed to all steps in the fuel transfer procedure and there were no spills or leaks. Emergency response equipment was easily accessible, and the operators actively illustrated their understanding of the full procedure and their role.

We were able to identify opportunities for improvement that have since been implemented as a proactive measure. Adherence to the procedure and this successful audit demonstrated that we are not only in compliance with the legislation, but actively reviewing our environmental management system.

Similar exercises are planned for both the Transmission division and Real Estate Services in 2017-2018.

Energy Consumption

Our energy consumption includes all the electricity, natural gas, oil and steam used to operate CBC/Radio-Canada production sites.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s energy-related activities are cross-referenced against a survey conducted by Natural Resources Canada (Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use: Buildings 2009, Summary Report, 2013). In 2016-2017, the average energy index in our broadcasting facilities was 27.58 ekWh per square foot, which is below the benchmark set by Natural Resources Canada.

When broken down further, our overall performance in 2016-2017 showed a very slight increase of 894,190 ekWh, or 0.4%. This can be mainly attributed to an increase in hydro consumption. This can be further broken down by examining the main sources of energy consumption within the Corporation.

In general, the Transmission division saw a 1.4% increase in its consumption, from 58,911,471 to 59,799,369 ekWh, which is likely attributed to a warmer 2016 summer, while our Real Estate facilities increased their energy usage by 0.01% over last year from 123,068,803 ekWh to 123,075,095. Weather conditions were also a factor.

Opportunities for improvement in energy usage are ongoing across the Corporation. Some potential opportunities includes:

  1. LED lighting
  2. Free cooling
  3. Energy-efficient HVAC systems for central equipment rooms.

We are committed to reducing our overall energy consumption and continue to look for ways to meet this target.

Water Consumption

Water consumption in CBC/Radio-Canada buildings includes all sources that are connected to municipal or other water systems. This includes water used for drinking, in washrooms, for air conditioning cooling towers, etc.

This year, the total estimated water consumption in our owned buildings decreased by 8.60%, from 61.8 to 56.4 litres per square foot. This is mainly attributed to changes in our building portfolio, as per the infrastructure strategy. In 2015-2016, we no longer accounted for water consumption at specific sites due to the sale or decommissioning of buildings, including our former Halifax Radio, Sydney and Windsor sites.

Benchmarks established by the Real Property Association of Canada (Real Pac) are used to compare CBC/Radio-Canada’s water consumption values with industry standards. For the tenth year in a row, data collected indicate that our normalized average water consumption is better than the industry standard.

Where possible, we continue to identify opportunities to decrease water consumption.

Air Emissions – Infrastructure

Air emissions include anything our infrastructure emits into the air, such as exhaust from our vehicle fleet, our buildings’ heating systems, generators, etc.

Due in part to our Real Estate infrastructure strategy and the decommissioning of analogue TV in our Transmission division, fiscal year 2016-2017 saw a continued reduction in our total air emissions related to our buildings. Down 6.1% from the year before (see blue columns in below bar chart), our data indicate that this improvement is occurring on a national scale, with a decrease in total air emissions in almost every province and territory. General improvements to our facilities resulting in less overall consumption, moves to smaller leased spaces more reflective of the size of our workforce, the sale or decommissioning of sites and even weather are some of the factors that played a role in decreasing our levels.

The level of our fleet air emissions is entirely dependent on vehicle type and use. The Corporation has made improvements in communication technology, removing the demand for face-to-face meetings thus reducing carbon miles. Fleet size is continually downsizing in line with the consolidation of TV and radio services and the sale of our mobile division. The welcome addition of hybrid and fully electric vehicles has played an important role in current and future emission reductions. In 2016-2017, our emissions in metric tonnes decreased from 2,861 (2015-2016) to 2,560, a decrease of 10.65%.

Air Emissions – Travel

Due to the nature of our industry, travel is necessary for journalists, reporters and television crews, etc. to capture what is shown on our screens daily. Employees use a variety of transport methods to reach this content, from aircraft and rail to automobiles. They all produce carbon dioxide, which contributes to our overall environmental impact.

Travel Distance 2014-2015
Total CO2 in kg
2015-2016 Total CO2 in kg 2016-2017 Total CO2 in kg
Short Haul 0-499 km 233,440 682,699 280,828
Medium Haul 500-1,499 km 1,012,670 835,495 1,061,408
Long Haul 1,500 km 2,806,623 922,928 2,828,885
Total CO2 Emissions* 4,052,734 2,441,121 4,171,120
* Total assumes that CO2 emitted during travel by rail is equivalent to that emitted during travel by air.

The chart shows a decline in short haul flights similar to 2014-2015 figures. The steady decline can be attributed to the fact that management and employees are more conscious of travel costs and are sending fewer employees to cover stories, attend in-person meetings or participate in conferences.

The significant increase in medium- and long-haul travel can be attributed to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We sent over 300 CBC/Radio-Canada employees to Brazil to cover the Games. The nature of the media industry, as mentioned previously, dictates the level of travel depending on the location of the story. We continue to focus on reducing non-essential travel, but in years where there are international events, such as the upcoming Winter Games in Korea, we would expect to see increased CO2 emissions.

Travel emissions from rental vehicles increased slightly in 2016-2017, but are consistent with previous years.

Per rental vehicle, 71.62 kg of CO2 was emitted from travel and production-related purposes, up from 63.49 kg of CO2 in the previous fiscal year. It should be noted that the calculation of distance travelled and kilogram of CO2 emitted includes the leisure rental incentive program for employees.

In 2016-2017 employees travelling to and from CBC Toronto and Pearson International Airport continued to take advantage of the Union-Pearson (UP) Express train. It is North America’s first dedicated air-rail link, and by using this form of public transport, employees have contributed toward lowering the Corporation’s carbon footprint.

The need to travel is constantly reviewed at CBC/Radio-Canada. It is avoided whenever possible (e.g., through conference calling, video calls and webinars). However, due to the dynamic nature of broadcasting and communication, travel is – and will always be – necessary. By looking outside the box, increasingly we are able to identify more eco-friendly modes of transport that result in a more environmentally conscious Corporation.

These values were normalized against the number of CBC/Radio-Canada permanent full-time employees (7,615) at March 31, 2017, to reflect a total of 569.67 kg of CO2 emitted per employee, an increase of 40.5% over the course of the last fiscal year (calculation based on 7,214 employees in 2015-2016).

Non-hazardous Waste

Non-hazardous waste includes paper, plastic, metal, glass and all the similar everyday products that are easily recycled without causing harm to human health and the environment. Our goal, where possible, is to divert non-hazardous waste from landfills; in other words, to increase our diversion rate.

At CBC/Radio-Canada our overall waste goal is to divert as much non-hazardous waste as possible from landfill disposal. We have examined the below waste hierarchy and identified key areas to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover waste across the Corporation in line with our ambition of greater sustainability. This year we hope to conduct a waste stream analysis to identify further areas for improvement, with the long-term aim of zero waste to landfills. As we can see in the hierarchy, prevention is the most preferable environmental option. In line with continuous improvement, we hope to focus on greater awareness and support amongst employees to move further up the hierarchy.

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) reports top performance in diversion rates at 90%, a target we continue to strive to meet. Our national diversion rate for fiscal year 2016-2017 increased slightly to 67.6% based on waste audits completed by an external third party. We continue to make ongoing efforts and explore opportunities to increase our rates, as indicated in the specific examples below.

Soft plastic and organic compost program

Our soft plastic and organic compost program at CBC Vancouver continues to play a role in increasing our diversion rate. Introduced four years ago, the program has been successful largely due to our dedicated employees, who fully support the implementation of sustainable solutions to be good corporate citizens. Soft plastics, which include stretchable plastics, is a non-renewable resource that can take a thousand years to break down. Fiscal year 2016-2017 showed a diversion rate of 16,900 kg of organic waste and 198 kg of soft plastic diverted from landfills, for a total of 17,098 kg of waste. This represents an decrease of 413 kg when compared to 2015-2016.

Paper recycling

Confidential paper for disposal is securely collected and shredded by a third-party vendor. The processed materials are then transported to a paper mill for pulping. This destruction process helps reduce pollution and saves trees, water and energy resources while diverting waste from landfills.

Between January 1 and December 31, 2016, 1,466 metric tonnes of paper was collected and treated using this method. These results reflect measures implemented over the last few years to discourage printing or, when necessary, to encourage double-sided printing.

All other paper is recycled as part of our established recycling program. We continue to work towards our goal of top performance.

Recovered Electronic Waste and Hazardous Waste

Electronic waste, or e-waste, refers to electronic devices such as computers, televisions, radios and transmitters. Hazardous waste can include batteries, oil, paint from buildings and industrial solvents.


As a broadcasting and communications Corporation, electronic waste is understandably our largest waste stream. CBC/Radio-Canada again looks towards the waste hierarchy and applies these principles to e-waste. This is evident in situations where electronic equipment/devices are reused elsewhere in the Corporation. Where reuse is inappropriate, obsolete e-waste is recycled through our effective e-waste recycling program. Here e-waste throughout our sites is collected and sent to companies specializing in e-waste recycling and material recovery, thereby diverting the e-waste from landfills.

Our e-waste program has become well-embedded in all CBC/Radio-Canada locations, and its success can be attributed to a clear and widely available procedure, coordinators at each location, and support and help from our e-waste recyclers. In the last decade, the program has grown and become a real accomplishment for the Corporation – one that we can confidently say will continue.

The planned sale of our Iqaluit location has set in motion a building clean-up and waste reduction project for the site. The project, which is expected to run over three consecutive summers, will focus on five main waste streams: e-waste, videotapes, paper and cardboard, furniture, and scrap metal.

In Winnipeg, Sabrina Seepaul (plant manager) led a large clean-up of:

  1. 38 skids of e-waste
  2. 2 oversized skids with desktop phones
  3. 4,000 lbs. of metal, which was recycled locally
  4. 2 trucks of extraneous garbage, broken chairs and furniture, old set pieces, old (off-brand) tents, etc. from Communications
  5. 19 boxes that the shredders picked up.

Fiscal year 2016-2017 saw the clean-up of several sites due to moves from owned to leased facilities. As part of these moves, surplus electronics that had functional use were sold to third-party brokers. Units that had no value to the Corporation or that were considered obsolete were recycled as e-waste. Not one piece of equipment was sent to landfills.

In our Transmission sites alone 9,560 kg of e-waste and 29,590 kg of scrap metal was diverted from landfills. In total, 106.11 metric tonnes of e-waste was diverted from landfills and was responsibly recycled across the country. These results are almost 40% lower than the previous year and demonstrate what has already been achieved across the Corporation, with historic clean-ups and electronic upgrades. Technological advancements will continue to make this one of our main waste streams and, with future innovations, we expect the annual e-waste figure to remain dynamic. An increase is not seen as a negative, but rather a natural aging process within CBC/Radio-Canada.

We continue to meet requirements established by recognized provincial stewardship programs, in addition to our internal guidelines and standards, which are under regular review. A review of the program was conducted at our Ottawa and Vancouver sites this past fiscal year. Additional reviews are planned for 2017-2018.


Battery recycling programs are available in 27 of our locations, reaching approximately 89% of employees. In 2016-2017, a total of 2,062 kg of batteries were recycled through the program.

Tape recycling

The tape recycling program, introduced in 2014-2015, continued this fiscal year. With a reduction in the need for videotape and an increased focus on file-based TV, our Library and Archives department physically reviewed database records and viewed tapes prior to determining what was not needed in the collection. In total, we responsibly shredded and recycled 9,043 lbs of duplicate or blank videotapes from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. This work will continue in 2017-2018.

In the next fiscal year we plan on commencing a digitizing project in our Montreal Library and Archives department. The project, which is expected to last over six years, will replicate the process in Toronto and has the potential to recycle over 1,000,000 tapes. Presently, we are looking at the best way to proceed with the project; however, from a sustainability perspective, the planned recycling of the tapes represents a major environmental saving.

Recovered hazardous waste (2016–2017)

(in kg)
Fluorescent Tubes
Paints, Adhesives, Oil and Other Products
(in Kg)
(in Metric Tonnes)
Transmission Scrap Metal (in kg) PCB
(in Litres)
2,062 880 1,945 106.11 29,590 44.6


Reported Environmental Incidents

Environmental incidents at CBC/Radio-Canada range from halocarbon releases to hazardous materials spills. Halocarbons are synthetic chemicals used in refrigerants, fire-extinguishing agents and solvents, fumigants, and foam-blowing agents. Classified as greenhouse gases, halocarbons contribute to global warming and the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer.

From April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, a total of 17 environmental incidents were reported, down from 36 for the previous fiscal period. This decrease is likely due to the high preventative-maintenance standards set for our equipment. CBC/Radio-Canada continues to follow recognized best practices to ensure regulatory requirements are met. The majority of the 17 incidents reported were identified during routine preventative maintenance or leak testing of the systems.

Our results in 2016-2017 were as follows:

  1. 14 incidents were classified level 1, which can be controlled on site, have little to no environmental impact and do not develop into an emergency situation.
  2. 3 incidents were assessed as level 2, which must be handled using external resources and could require reporting to governmental authorities and/or trigger internal escalation procedures.
  3. 0 incidents were classified level 3, which require reporting to governmental authorities and could trigger emergency operating procedures.

All the incidents reported were due to spills or discharges caused by the Corporation; the majority were identified during maintenance or semi-annual leak-testing activities. Thirteen of the 17 releases were halocarbon in nature, ranging from 0.56 kg to 147.3 kg. There were two incidents that exceeded 100 kg. Both occurred at our Montreal site. A release of 147.3 kg was identified as a result of a minor leak from the threads of one of the condenser safety valves during routine maintenance. Another release of 117.5 kg of halocarbon escaped from a chiller compressor block. In both situations, repairs were made and the units were retested for leaks and put back into regular service. Both releases were also reported to Environment and Climate Change Canada within the required reporting period.

Government Inspections

Two government inspections were completed in 2016-2017, both in our Real Estate group.

The first inspection came from the municipal fire department at our Calgary facility. The second was from Environment and Climate Change Canada at our Montreal site.

In both circumstances, all requests were met, and the enforcement officers reviewed the programs and were satisfied with their findings. No warning letters or notices were issued and no non-compliance issues were identified.

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