In the Green Spotlight

Spotlighting environmental initiatives that we are especially proud of this year

CBC/Radio-Canada places an emphasis on proactive environmental management. Annually, this has been reflected in our ongoing sustainability achievements. We have focused our efforts on reducing our carbon and waste footprints, and our success is clearly captured in our environmental scorecard. In addition, throughout the year, we have been working on other environmental initiatives to reduce our environmental impact both locally and nationally, as well as for planet earth as a whole. It is this way of thinking that makesCBC/Radio-Canada a truly environmentally aware Corporation, at the centre of which are our employees.

This year, a few of the stories we are especially proud of feature key initiatives that have played, and continue to play, a significant role in how we manage our environmental strategy in a sustainable way.

1. Biodiversity

In June 2015, CBC/Radio-Canada became a novice beekeeping Corporation with the introduction of six bee colonies on the rooftops of our buildings in Montreal and Toronto.

In the years since, the bee project has blossomed and, last year alone, we added two hives to Toronto and Montreal while also introducing new hives to Winnipeg, Vancouver and Ottawa.

This urban beekeeping is vital for the preservation and promotion of a declining honeybee population. Globally, pesticides, habitat destruction, climate change and reduced bee health have led to a massive decline in the honeybee population. This is significant because the honeybee is responsible for enabling at least 30 per cent of the world’s crops and 90 per cent of wild plants to thrive. Our hives contribute to garden pollination throughout the urban centres with the added bonus of honey!

The success and growth of this project would not have been possible without collaboration from key staff (Athena Trastelis and Christina Boncheff of Health, Safety & Environment; Daniel Langevin of Real Estate Services; Dennis Graham of Transmission; Azim Remani of Legal Services; Nata Maggio of Risk Management and Insurance; and David Oille of Enterprise Communications). Hives were maintained by a third-party beekeeper throughout the season.

Employees really got behind the bee biodiversity program. Evidence of this is the fact that this project won in the CBC/Radio-Canada “making things better” category at the 2016 President's Awards. Ongoing communication and active involvement throughout the project have led to its strength. A live rooftop “bee cam” in Toronto, alongside a competition to “name their queen bees,’’ increased participation and support at all levels of the Corporation. To keep the momentum going, annual bee workshops allow employees to spend some quality time with the bees, and honey sales in the fall let them sample the bees’ liquid gold. Revenue generated from the honey sales is reinvested in local charities, allowing the cycle of giving to continue.

Last year in Toronto our bees produced 788 jars of honey, which were sold to employees, raising $3,940 for charity (Daily Bread Food Bank). Our bees produced 460 jars in Montreal, 94 jars in Ottawa and 140 jars in Winnipeg. In Vancouver, the hives experienced a harsh winter; therefore, there was no surplus honey for this bee season. We hope this will not be the case next season.

Since March our bees have been examined and, across all our sites, many have survived the winter and there is great potential for honey production during the summer of 2017.

We are also excited to report that the bee program will again be expanding, with Fredericton and St. John’s as potential sites for the 2018 bee season.

2. Green Fingers

Our biodiversity achievements do not end there!

Employees at our Yellowknife site turned their green fingers to a piece of dull CBC/Radio-Canada lawn and transformed it into an oasis of vegetables and flowers.

Yellowknife senior producer Marilyn Robak, in conjunction with building maintenance contractor Roger Russell and managers Kevin Woldum and Janice Stein, worked to create what is now a beautiful and multi-functional garden. The garden demonstrates sustainability with its clever use of land to produce food. This project certainly has potential to be replicated in a number of our other sites (e.g., Quebec City in 2017-2018).

In Sherbrooke, more employees took the green initiative to develop a beautiful rooftop garden. This project looked outside the box to identify a space where biodiversity could thrive. This garden provides a safe and sustainable habitat for bees and insects, while offering staff a green haven in the workplace.

The rooftop garden has produced fruit and vegetables, which, when collected, are donated to the project Fridge Free for people in need.

By maintaining and promoting relationships with local farmers, the Transmission division has agreements that allow grazing, haying and planting of crops such as grain and soybeans on areas adjacent to transmission towers. This practice is beneficial to both parties because farmers are able to either graze their animals or harvest crops locally, site plant growth is controlled and revenue is generated for the Corporation. Areas across the country where such agreements are in place include Middleton, NS; Windsor, ON; Chatham, ON; Wingham, ON; Kitchener, ON; Lethbridge, AB; and Red Deer, AB.

There is abundant potential for more biodiversity projects across CBC/Radio-Canada. Next year we hope to produce another rooftop garden in Quebec City; a project that the employees there have great interest in. Further opportunities are welcomed by all staff and demonstrate the Corporation’s holistic approach to environmental conservation.

3. Bio-cell Remediation Technology at Mont Logan

As indicated in previous years’ reports, Transmission continues to monitor the sampling and analysis results from the bio-cell remediation project located at Mont Logan, QC. For 2016-2017, the hydrocarbon concentrations in soil continue to trend downwards. More sampling and analysis is planned for 2017-2018.

4. Electric Car Charging Stations

Increasingly electric vehicles are becoming more common on Canadian roads – a trend that CBC/Radio-Canada is proud to support. These vehicles are by nature the most eco-friendly; running on a rechargeable battery as opposed to fossil fuels reduces both natural resource demand and air pollution levels.

In fiscal year 2014-15 we installed two electric car charging stations at our Montreal facility. Employees can use these stations to charge their personal vehicles while at work. Stations can accommodate four vehicles at a time and are accessible to all employees utilizing the Montreal parking lot. This forward-thinking move demonstrated our commitment to improving our environmental impact even outside the Corporation.

Since their installation, Mario Gionet (Corporate Fleet Senior Manager) has noted that “the stations are constantly in use, demonstrating employees’ interest and willingness to do their bit for the environment.”

Officially launched on March 31, 2015, the results to date are as follows:

Areas of Savings 2015-2016 2016-2017
Number of Charge-ups 650 543
MWh of Energy Saved 5.902 MWh of energy 4.709 MWh of energy
Litres of Gasoline Saved 2,803.73 litres of gasoline 2,237.0 litres of gasoline
Greenhouse Gas Savings 2,478 kg of GHG* 1,977 kg of GHG*
*This is equivalent to the GHG emissions from an average passenger vehicle being driven 9,558 km (source).

The above data clearly demonstrate the success of the charging stations and justify the introduction of more charging stations such as in Quebec City (see the next story).


5. Greening our Fleet

CBC/Radio Canada is by nature a mobile and dynamic Corporation, with reporters, journalists, videographers etc., constantly chasing the next big story. As such, transportation is an integral part of our ongoing sustainability efforts and an area where we have made great advancements.

Since the sale of our mobile division in 2015-2016 we have seen a continued decrease in our fleet carbon emissions. Overall, we have driven down our fleet carbon emissions by 25 per cent in the last three fiscal years – a trend we hope will continue.

Greening our fleet increases our environmental, economic and social sustainability. In a time where the earth is experiencing the highest levels of carbon dioxide emissions (as reported by the World Meteorological Organization) we at CBC/Radio Canada are doing our bit to reduce our emissions.

In terms of the fleet composition, we have evolved from using large mobile units to using smaller, more efficient vehicles. In 2016 we expanded our vehicle selector to allow the Corporation to purchase cleaner and greener vehicles such as hybrid and electric models. We compared the efficiencies of both our standard Ford Escape and our Ford Escape Hybrid. Although there is not a significant difference in their fuel consumption per kilometre over the course of their lifetime, nevertheless the cumulative fuel savings amount to approximately $9,300.

Until 2016 we had purchased Ford Escape hybrids in Quebec City, Toronto and Charlottetown; in 2016 we procured two 100% electric Nissan Leafs. The electronic vehicles reduce our fleet’s carbon footprint. The two new cars were branded by our corporate communications, and in a passerby survey of almost 1,000 people, the feedback was as positive as the cars’ environmental footprint.

These two vehicles are used to move the morning reporter in town each morning to chronicle various aspects of early morning life in Quebec City, as well as for the new digital video journalist assigned primarily to the south shore of Quebec City. Several occasional users also benefit from the presence of these vehicles, including other journalists who intermittently provide digital coverage for CBC/Radio-Canada colleagues, as well as technicians required to travel on certain assignments.

It is important that these vehicles are fully charged before they leave in the morning. On average, they can travel between 160 to 180 kilometres on one charge. This figure can increase to 200 kilometres in the summer; however, it decreases to 120 kilometres in the winter due to the requirement to heat the passenger compartment.

Conventional vehicles are available when people are travelling longer distances or with a colleague. As the technology evolves, the hope is that newer vehicles will be able to accommodate multiple passengers and travel longer distances without the need to recharge.

An electric vehicle charging station was installed in Quebec to charge these cars and those of CBC/Radio-Canada employees. Both vehicles have now covered a distance of 11,100km. In monetary terms, they equate to a $1,119 saving when compared to similar traditional models. Their use has also saved 2,302 tons of carbon dioxide – the same amount that would be needed to power 308 homes for a year.

Employees again can be credited with the success of this initiative, particularly Mario Gionet, André Duchesneau, André Fortin and all the drivers/mechanics who worked together to ensure the cars triumphed even in the winter! We are now reviewing the possibility of electric vehicles in Montreal, where we already have two electric vehicle charging stations.

For the remainder of our fleet vehicles, we acknowledge that driver practices ultimately impact our fleet’s environmental performance. Eco-friendly driving training is an ongoing program aimed at improving our driving techniques and overall sustainability in this area.

CBC/Radio-Canada has been awarded the 2016 award from our fleet services provider for "Achievement in Leveraging Fleet Technology in Support of Driver Safety." The award was the result of the work done by the Policy Health and Safety Committee (composed of management and union representatives from the Corporation) and Fleet Services on numerous training initiatives implemented in the Corporation. These include defensive driving, environmental eco-driving techniques, winter driving, towing, etc. It is also important to note that the work done collectively by CBC/Radio-Canada and our fleet services provider in the last two years has successfully reduced our accident rate by close to 40%.

CBC/Radio-Canada is taking a life-cycle perspective with its fleet – from procurement to driving to final use. This is an important environmental consideration and one that we are committed to improving year upon year.

In Montreal, we went a step further by allocating 10 Car2Go parking spaces near our Maison de Radio-Canada building. Since May 2016, Car2Go members have had access to reserved parking spaces in the Maison de Radio-Canada lots. In terms of sustainability, these smart cars have lower carbon emissions due to hybrid and 100% electric engines, and they can reduce overall car ownership amongst employees. Car2Go is a great option for CBC/Radio-Canada staff to meet any non-work-related driving needs with a lower environmental impact. This is in addition to the cars that have been used since 2016 in Montreal.

6. Green Hackathon

In March 2017 our CBC/ Radio-Canada Digital Media team organized an innovative Hackathon at Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal. The event brought together developers, designers, strategists and many others for a friendly three-day web programming competition. The 51 participants formed 11 teams to explore new development concepts. Their goal was to join forces and develop a prototype of a web or mobile app for

The Hackathon was a massive success, with all teams contributing to the event.

Sustainability remained at the centre of the Hackathon from its initial planning to final roll out. From the outset, the organizing committee’s goal was for this to be a green event. They conducted research and designed their very own eco-friendly Hackathon guide. The guide included guidelines and actions to reduce the environmental impacts in the planning and running of the event. The focus for the event was to reduce emissions and waste and to return profits to the community, all of which are in line with the principles of sustainability.

CBC/Radio-Canada employees excelled in creating an environmentally friendly occasion by:

  • Creating a web platform for the management of both the registration process and global communication participants, thus limiting the use of paper
  • Ensuring all print media was on reused cardboard
  • Providing clear guidance to waste-sorting points (recycling, composting, waste)
  • Providing an ECO Kit to participants and volunteers
  • Providing free public transport tickets for the duration of the event
  • Giving each participant a reusable glass bottle for hot and cold beverages (plastic water bottles were banned during the event)
  • Ensuring t-shirts were 100% cotton and made locally in Quebec
  • Partnering with a caterer with a rehabilitation program for people with mental health problems
  • Making sure all containers, utensils and plates were compostable
  • Donating 30 surplus meals to the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion of the Old Brewery Mission
  • Providing a wired network for each participant (more energy efficient than wi-fi)
  • Taking part in a GHG Offset Program.

In addition to the above, the committee went the extra mile and planted 104 trees in Quebec to sequester 18.33 metric tonnes of CO2, for this the event, attaining a Certificate of Compensation. They also successfully diverted 91.2 kg of organic residue from landfills during the event, leading to a Certificate of Recognition. This event, and everyone’s collaborative effort, shows how any event can be made more eco-friendly. The planning and research by the committee, and the participants’ acceptance of eco-friendly measures, made this event one of the most environmentally friendly within the Corporation. Experiences from this event will be used again during planning for next year’s Hackathon, with the potential for them to be used elsewhere in the Corporation.

7. Green Production Guide

Throughout the broadcasting and media industry a more eco-friendly approach is being adopted for the production of television content. In 2016, CBC/Radio-Canada decided to pilot a green production guide within English Services with the launch of the new lifestyle show called “The Goods.”

The pilot involved the completion of a gap analysis to consider what green initiatives were already being implemented, along with opportunities for improvement. Production worked alongside the environmental department, and all environmental aspects related to the show were identified upfront alongside proactive measures that would further reduce the show’s environmental impact. Using a lifecycle perspective, we examined energy usage, catering, set design and wardrobe, makeup, and post production. Aaron Rajan, Portia Corman and Therese Attard were all vital to the success and progress of the pilot. When we started the GAP analysis, we discovered that we were already doing the following:

  • LEDs were being used in studios and office areas, with motion-sensor lighting also in place.
  • No new equipment (e.g., laptops, kitchen appliances) was purchased.
  • Prop furniture is returned to the vendor after use. Others are borrowed and returned. All materials that can be are re-used. For instance, packaging (cardboard, cling wrap, Styrofoam or bubble wrap) that is used for props or set pieces are stored and reused when the items are returned to the vendor.
  • The majority of communication is handled through email and verbal communications. (The only paper used on set is double sided e.g., the script is only available through teleprompter, not on paper).
  • There are more recycling stations than garbage bins.
  • Real dishes, glasses and cutlery are used in food segments.
  • Production will only order as much food as is needed for food segments. In the unlikely event that excess food or food waste generated as part of these segments are donated to the Scott Mission.
  • Composting is also used for food scraps that cannot be donated.
  • Only eco-friendly cleaning products are used on set.
  • Rechargeable batteries are utilized. When disposal is necessary, production uses the in-house battery recycling program.
  • Reusable water bottles are used by employees.

The guide is a good starting point for any new shows that may need direction with regards to more sustainable production. For 2017-2018, it will be used to reassess the success of “The Goods” and how we can build upon the great work the crew are already doing.

8. CBC Toronto: Gold for a Second Year

Green commuting is a sustainable option resulting in fewer emissions, less money spent on gas, and, most importantly, improved health and well-being.

CBC Toronto has retained its Gold designation by the City of Toronto Smart Commute program. This designation is awarded to outstanding workplaces that support sustainable travel options for their employees on an ongoing basis through regular communication and participation in programs such as bicycle workshops.

Across Canada, CBC/Radio-Canada sites promoted bike to work day. In Windsor, after their ride along the Detroit River, about 100 cyclists came to CBC Windsor for coffee, fruit and bagels.


Former CBC Windsor cameraman Vince Robinet

9. Ottawa News Biking

At our Ottawa site, our newsroom employees have access to two CBC/Radio-Canada bikes. The bikes are used to cover stories downtown, from parliamentary updates to traffic congestion. Kelly Dexter, a Senior Manager for Production Services in Ottawa, has been directly involved in the project for some years now. Aside from the environmental benefits, she notes that “the bikes save the Corporation money in terms of taxi fares.” The bike users are avid cyclists, and it allows them to get around the city more efficiently while also benefiting their health through on-the-job exercise.

In terms of safety awareness, we developed a bicycle safety course for employees. We had two members of the Ottawa Police do a one-hour session about road safety. Additionally, employees in Ottawa who cycles to work have to take a five-minute online safety course before they are given access to the parking garage.

Below is one of our CBC/Radio-Canada employees, Giacomo Panico, with an Ottawa bike. There is great potential for this project to be replicated across the Corporation, especially in congested cities where parking and traffic are obstacles to gathering news stories.

10. LED Lighting

The installation of LED fixtures at CBC/Radio-Canada is not a new initiative. Beginning with the first in the world all-LED-lit studio in 2007-2008 at the Beijing Olympics, and working through the upgrade of all our main studios and some office spaces, energy-saving LED activities continue within the Corporation.

Transmission continues to replace incandescent lights on towers with LED lighting. In 2016-2017 LED lighting was installed at the following locations: Pembroke, ON; Huntsville, ON; Mont Belair, QC; Ste-Anne-des-Monts, QC; Mont Laurier, QC; and Red Deer, AB. More LED replacement projects are planned for 2017-2018.

11. Moving House Sustainably

Similar to previous years 2016-2017 saw a continuous reduction in our building footprint with a reduction of 50,000 square feet. Downsizing plays a crucial part in our environmental performance as we only use what we need in a more sustainable manner.

Zero waste to landfill is our mantra when selling, moving and downsizing any building and has become embedded in the way we approach a project. A building clean-up has been completed in Iqaluit and e-waste is due to be removed this summer. Other main waste streams removed during this clean-up included videotapes, paper and cardboard, furniture, and scrap metal. This project will run over the course of three summers because of the barge shipments (summers 2015 to 2017). The waste is shipped by barge for recycling/disposal as there is no other recycling program in this region.

In the coming fiscal year CBC/Radio-Canada Calgary will be moving from an owned to a leased facility. Decommissioning is planned towards the fall of 2017, and with this move we will see a reduction in our building footprint and an increase in efficiency with a more modern site.

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