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My Climate Smart Journey - Hopehill
Becoming a Climate Smart Business is a journey. It is a journey to discovering and creating a plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a journey to potential cost savings, and a journey that helps businesses realize that every organization can make a difference to the planet's well-being.
So what is the Climate Smart Journey like? We asked trailblazing businesses a few questions about the process and what it’s like to become a sustainability leader through the Climate Smart program.
Let's dive in with Yvonne Ho, Operations Manager at Hopehill.
Hopehill—Living in Community is an affordable housing society in Vancouver, committed to providing low-cost living to low-income seniors. Close to 400 people live in their 5 residential buildings. Though the affordability number for low-cost living in Vancouver is $58K/year for studio and one-bedroom apartments, the bulk of their residents earns less than $30K/year in their pensions and savings. Hopehill provides them with a safe, clean, affordable one-bedroom or studio apartment for about 30-35% of their monthly income. Beyond housing, they endeavour to create a ‘community' feel to living at Hopehill. They host activities like gardening, teatime, game nights, visiting lectures, potlucks, exercise times, music concerts, and bingo, and encourage residents and volunteers to partake. People live with Hopehill because they can afford it, and because they like living there.
How many employees does your company have and how many employees took the program?
“We have 17 full-time staff and 3 part-time. Our entire team participated in the program 100%. Beyond our staff, we are working hard at helping our residents realize that we need to live smartly. We have done workshops for them, allowing them to think creatively about how they can reduce their waste and reuse past items. We have also initiated food growing efforts on our lightly used lawn areas, turning them into garden beds for residents. We can’t fix everything, but we can do something.”
What made you decide on the Climate Smart Program?
“We originally heard about Climate Smart through Vancity. We were able to take advantage of Vancity’s grant program, and that enabled us to participate.”
What was your Climate Smart experience like?
“It’s been really collaborative, especially since we committed to having each department send 1 person for Climate Smart training. So there has been enthusiasm and as a team we are able to think about sustainability in all corners of Hopehill. It has been very fulfilling and allows us to structure our climate action.”
What was your biggest win with the Climate Smart program?
“We completed a resident educational series on climate action that included a survey before and after. And there was a 30% increase in how concerned residents were about environmental issues and a 24% increase in how residents felt their personal lifestyle could impact climate action. Residents also reported that they would be twice as likely to reuse products.”
What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced?
“It’s been challenging as we are not-for-profit, and we don’t have the luxury of time and resources to dedicate to all the actions we would like to take towards becoming a more sustainable business.”
What was the most surprising outcome of the Climate Smart training?
“We are already doing pretty well — our staff has been very interested in how Hopehill can do better. It was also surprising to find out that emissions from waste were higher than electricity.”
How would you describe your company's success with the Climate Smart Program so far?
“It’s very helpful to know the accurate numbers on what our emissions are, and where we can have the most impact in reductions.”
How have your employees adopted being a Climate Smart business?
“Employees have embraced the on-site environmental initiatives implemented to help reduce the impact on the environment. Most initiatives resulted from the Climate Smart GHG Emissions Reduction Plan.”
How does the Climate Smart Program align with your company’s values?
“One of our core values is ‘living responsibly’. We try to manage our finances in a responsible way. And we try to manage our climate and life assets in a responsible way. We don’t want to run out of money, and we certainly don’t want to run out of air, water, life.”
How have your employees adopted Climate Smart?
“The staff are committed to living smarter and we regularly talk about our climate actions in our staff meetings — not in a punitive way, but in a supportive contributive way. We are always thinking about more actions we can take. Residents are slowly and surely coming around to realize that we need to live differently. The old ways no longer work. It has also changed the way our staff and residents look at the term healthy living! Training has provided ideas for us on how we can improve.”
What motivates you to continue to be a Climate Smart Business?
“The results we are seeing from the program and the support we receive from the Radicle team on our goals!”
Hopehill’s Climate Smart journey has only just begun, and we’re inspired by their determination and drive to make planet-positive changes.
If you’re ready to start your organization on its own Climate Smart journey and help transform your business into a climate leader, our experts are ready to help you evaluate how to cut carbon, cut costs, and make a difference to the planet’s well-being.
Learn more about the Climate Smart Program