Sustainable Hamilton Burlington (SHB) was originally launched as Sustainable Hamilton in June 2011 by Sandi Stride with the help of a Founding Board of Directors and small team of volunteers.
One of the first actions was to recruit a cross-sectoral advisory committee to gain input from sustainability experts in academia, municipal and provincial government, NGOs, and businesses large and small. Over the summer of 2011 this committee reviewed several sustainability measurement frameworks to provide guidance on a program that would meet the needs of organizations in the Hamilton and Burlington area, as well as one that would help address the key local environmental, social and economic issues. The committee decided on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) www.globalreporting.org, the de-facto world standard in corporate sustainability reporting for its world-wide acceptance and suitability for a wide range of organizations and sectors. The newly formed volunteer team then went to work on creating a comprehensive toolkit and other support programs. The Sustainable Hamilton Reporting Initiative was launched in early 2012.
In 2013, our first annual Evening of Recognition was held at the Royal Botanical Gardens, celebrating the accomplishments of the first eight Sustainable Hamilton Reporting Partners. We also created the Sustainable Hamilton Experiential Learning (SHEL) program, to extend its mission of mentoring the next generation of sustainable business leaders. The work started with the SHEL program now continues with the new Collaborative Experiential Learning (CEL) program.
In 2014 we were invited by the City of Hamilton to sit on the Steering Committee of the Community Climate Change Action Plan, where Sandi Stride also co-chaired the Local Economy and Business Task Force to engage the business sector in the climate change discussion. Climate Change became a key focus of our programming. In fall of 2014 the organization moved into a new office at The Seedworks on Catharine Street North in Hamilton, providing a home for volunteer meetings and office space for staff and volunteers. By the end of 2014 it had become evident that there was a growing interest in Burlington as well, but the name Sustainable Hamilton was proving to be a deterrent to Burlington-based organizations. The decision was made to re-brand as Sustainable Hamilton Burlington, and the new name and logo were launched at the June 2015 Evening of Recognition, followed by a new website in September to reflect our new brand direction.
In January of 2016 SHB we joined the Sustainability CoLab Network (now Green Economy Canada) which gave us access to extensive capacity-building resources and networking as well as support from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change while retaining our own unique value proposition. We began the process of incorporating the CoLab greenhouse gas (GHG) target-setting and reduction parameters and software into our existing program. The fall of 2016 saw the re-launch of our core program as the Sustainable Business Initiative (SBI). This was prompted by two factors: input from members who asked for more flexibility for reporting on their organization’s unique situations; and the need to adapt the program to incorporate the Sustainability CoLab emphasis on climate change and GHG reporting. All members are now required to set a sustainability target which can be measured and improved on over time.
2017 opened with a dramatic shift for the organization, when a Grow Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation allowed us to hire long term full and part time staff to augment the work of Founder Sandi Stride, the volunteer team and occasional work term contracts. As a result of this expansion, we suddenly out-grew our desk(s) in the Seedworks co-working space. Thankfully the owners of Seedworks renovated a unique new office for us — which we then completed with a recycled shipping pallet green wall, upcycled table and Interface carpet tiles. We then set about rolling out the use of B Analytics to help companies set material goals, track performance across time, and compare against similar businesses. We also introduced an option for members to set a waste diversion target. This provides another alternative to carbon target setting. The Waste Diversion Target Framework was developed in consultation with other network members of Green Economy Canada, local waste consultants, the Recycling Council of Ontario, and our SBI member base. Another project in 2017 was our partnership with the City of Hamilton and Climate Smart to deliver a Hamilton Business Energy and Emissions Profile (BEEP): a full report and data visualization tool that allows users to see local GHG emissions by business sector, business activity (i.e. electricity) or business size.
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