Community Conversations: Sustainable Waterloo Region

As spring begins, Sustainable Waterloo Region reflects on the positive changes to our region’s susatinablility landscape that have taken place over the past 12 months

Spring is just around the corner and with warming weather comes a sense of reflection and renewal. At Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR), work to complete our 2012 report has provided ample opportunity to reflect on the Waterloo Region’s sustainability landscape over the last 12 months.

This year, we celebrate the sustainability network that is emerging within Waterloo Region. From where we live, to where we work, to how we commute, the people of Waterloo Region have unprecedented opportunity to integrate environmental sustainability into their day-to-day lives.

SWR’s flagship program, the Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI), works with organizations across Waterloo Region to advance the sustainability of their operations through greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions.

In February 2013, the RCI reached a new membership milestone when Sutherland-Schultz joined as its 60th member. Other RCI members include leading institutions like Sun Life Financial, Ernst & Young, the Region of Waterloo and Grand River Hospital. This growth illustrates that, increasingly, business leaders, entrepreneurs and key decision makers recognize the real value of incorporating environmental sustainability in to their business decisions.

Beyond the RCI, SWR provides support services for TravelWise — the Region of Waterloo’s new Transportation Management Association — and is proud of the continued success of the program. TravelWise partners with 17 member organizations that represent more than 20,000 employees to provide information and tools to help reduce single occupancy vehicle travel. These efforts can help relieve traffic congestion, reduce GHG emissions, promote healthy lifestyles, and improve quality of life for all members of Waterloo Region.

SWR is also incredibly proud to be a part of ClimateActionWR, along with REEP Green Solutions and the Region of Waterloo, and in valuable collaboration with area municipalities and local electric and natural gas utilities.

This initiative is building on the success of the RCI by working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders to create a community-wide GHG inventory and forecast, reduction targets and action plan for all of Waterloo Region. Although many communities across Canada are at various stages of measuring their carbon emissions and creating an action plan, Waterloo Region is using a unique approach with leadership from two local non-profits and all four municipalities working together. This work has connections to sustainable transportation, water conservation, energy savings and rural land conservation, among other community benefits.

The Climate Action Plan, when implemented, will propel local sustainability efforts forward and allow for community-wide measurement of emissions reductions as we collectively progress towards lowering carbon impact and enhancing quality of life in Waterloo Region.

On March 19, 21 and 25, a series of community forums will be held throughout Waterloo Region to gather community input towards creating a plan and setting a target for reducing community GHG emissions over the next 10 years.

As organizations and community members continue to apply and share their knowledge, progressive ideas and passion for Waterloo Region, endeavors in sustainability will assuredly continue to trail-blaze a path to a healthy environment with a thriving economy.
We encourage you to participate in the

ClimateActionWR Community Forums and join us on April 18 at the Waterloo Inn for SWR’s Evening of Recognition for the release of SWR’s 2012 report. Attendees will learn about the growing impacts of this sustainability network by connecting with representatives from local businesses and the community, while hearing from RCI member organizations making ambitious GHG reduction commitments and collaborating to achieve these targets.

For more information on registering for the Evening of Recognition and the ClimateActionWR community forums, visit