By Alina Kleinsasser
Green Economy London aims to make the future of London business sustainable and eco-friendly.
Co-tenant Marianne Griffith, hub manager of Green Economy London, is eager to help London businesses help the environment and change the way they think about sustainability.
“My tagline as of late has been, ‘Let’s change the conversation, not the climate,’ ” Marianne says.
The London hub, which launched this May, supports local businesses, helping them reduce their impact on the environment by setting sustainability goals, which include greenhouse gas emissions, landfill waste and water usage.
Marianne says that for businesses, becoming environmentally-friendly can be a win-win.
“We are presenting [becoming more sustainable] to businesses as an opportunity for efficiency, both from a cost standpoint as well as an environmental standpoint,” Marianne says.
In addition to cutting utility costs, Marianne explains, following sustainable business practices can reduce hauling fees from excess waste.
Green Economy London’s approach to sustainability is focused on quantifiable targets. It uses eco-based software to measure businesses’ baseline use of resources and utilities. It then creates an action plan by using this data as well as by touring the business premises.
Green Economy London provides referrals and workshops that aid businesses in fulfilling these action plans, and checks in with businesses to monitor their progress. It celebrates successes by providing a leaderboard where businesses can set and track sustainability targets and by hosting an Evening of Recognition.
Green Economy London also runs workshops to aid business owners in becoming more sustainable. It plans to host three workshops this fall at Innovation Works, on topics of water management, waste management, and energy usage. These workshops will include expert panels, activities, and Q-and-A sessions, and will be the first of their kind within Green Economy.
With this programming, Green Economy London aims for practical results as well as broader impact.
“My favourite thing about Green Economy is changing the conversation about sustainability and setting a new standard for the way that we practice business and the way that we live: ingraining sustainability in business operations, as opposed to it being an afterthought,” Marianne says.
This recognition is part of a larger cultural shift in environmental thought that Marianne points out:
“The culture of sustainability is now much more relevant. Younger employees are seeking to work for businesses and leaders in the community that value sustainability and that operate in that way. So people are now able to retain better skilled labour and have better public relations by achieving sustainability. In the past, it wasn’t really a topic of conversation the way it is now.”
Changing technology has synthesized with this changing culture to make sustainable business practices more appealing than ever.
“Generally, people are concerned with the costs involved in becoming more efficient. Luckily, now that’s not really an issue,” Marianne says. “Generally, the payback period is a lot quicker now, because things like solar have all come down in price, and electricity and water are only getting more expensive.”
Although Green Economy’s London hub is relatively young, Marianne is confident it will succeed. “We launched with more founding partners and members than any other hub in Canada,” she says. “We’ve signed more businesses on after the launch, too. We have our work cut out for us, which is great.”