Niagara Sustainability Initiative recognized as one of the first affiliate members of new non-profit aimed to scale a climate change solution across Ontario

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Special to Niagara Construction News

For more than 20 years, world leaders have debated what action should be taken to combat climate change without much success. Yet in the face of global inaction, local solutions to climate change offer hope. On January 16th, 2014, a new non-profit called Sustainability CoLab hosted their launch at Artscape Wychwood Farms in Toronto, in order to share a local model of climate change action with communities across the province.

CoLab is launching in light of the success of Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI), which works with organizations to advance the sustainability of their operations through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. The success of the RCI in the Waterloo Region has resulted in over 60 businesses and organizations committing to reducing their emissions. One organization, closely modeled after Sustainable Waterloo Region is Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI), launched in 2010. Through the Carbon Project, NSI is currently partnering with 16 local businesses, organizations and municipalities to manage their greenhouse gas emissions, totaling over 53,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to annual emissions of 11,200 cars.

In response to interest from over a dozen communities just in Ontario in replicating the early success seen in Waterloo Region, CoLab will provide the key support services for communities to launch, grow and accelerate their own business-focused, greenhouse gas (GHG) target-setting programs. Rather than franchising the RCI, CoLab will share the core approaches of the model and help each community to locally adapt and innovate around them.

At the recent launch event, Niagara was announced as one of the first five communities in Ontario joining Sustainability CoLab’s network, along with Sustainable Waterloo Region, EnviroCentre, Durham SustainAbility and Sustainable Kingston. “As the first community to show interest in the model we were pioneering in Waterloo Region, Niagara helped us to realize the potential to scale our impact,” says Mike Morrice, founder of Sustainable Waterloo Region and Executive Director of Sustainability CoLab. “NSI is a big part of the reason we are where we are today – ready to launch this provincial network. I’m excited to have played even a small part in their success to-date, and to contribute to their continued growth into the future.”

Partnering with Sustainability CoLab will provide a strong support for NSI in their local efforts to promote sustainability across the Niagara Region. NSI’s Carbon Project partners will benefit from CoLab’s resources and expertise when tackling different sustainability challenges. This partnership also introduces the opportunity for NSI partners to connect and network with like-minded organizations across Canada and introduces opportunities for recognition of sustainability efforts. As one of the first communities in Canada to join the CoLab network, Niagara is put on the map as an environmentally conscious and progressive business community.

About Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI)

NSI is a non-profit organization focused on improving environmental and economic performance in the Niagara Region. To facilitate this NSI runs a program designed to aid organizations in measuring managing and reducing their carbon footprint. The organization also hosts a number of educational events throughout the year in order to engage partners and community members in environmental sustainability principles and practices.

About Sustainability CoLab

Sustainability CoLab is a national non-profit that enables, mobilizes, and builds community-driven and action-oriented approaches to business sustainability. CoLab was inspired by the success of Sustainable Waterloo Region’s flagship program – the Regional Carbon Initiative – which works with businesses to substantially reduce their carbon impact through collaboration, target-setting, and public reporting. The RCI has engaged over 60 organizations across Waterloo Region – representing over 13% of the workforce – who have collectively committed to reducing their carbon impact by 45,000 tonnes over the next 10 years.

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