One Year In: A Warm Welcome and Big Congrats

By Mike Morrice

It was this time last year – January 16th to be exact! – that we were announcing the launch of Sustainability CoLab and ambitious plans to support organizations interested in replicating Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Regional Carbon Initiative. We started with five organizations across Ontario either launching or growing what we now refer to as “target-based sustainability programs for businesses” – this new model that had developed in Waterloo  Region where organizations were setting targets to reduce their carbon impact and paying membership fees to the point that the program was self-sufficient.

One year later, I’m so glad to share that two new organizations have been selected to join the CoLab Network in 2015, and an existing Member is the first to launch a program with our support.

rebecca danard

Rebecca Danard Executive Director of reThink Green

First, the new additions: both reThink Green in Sudbury and Windfall Ecology Centre in York Region have been selected to join the CoLab Network as what we call “Emerging Members”, meaning they will have our support as they get ready to launch. Both have all the right ingredients needed to be successful in their launch of a target-based sustainability program for businesses in their community.

In reThink Green’s case, since 2006 they’ve been building capacity among environmental organizations in Sudbury, and they’ve even been convening conversations about replicating the Regional Carbon Initiative since 2013. Coupled with an ambitious new Executive Director, a successful co-working space launch in 2014 and a number of potential funders already excited about the program, this all adds up to an organization and a community that is ready to go.

brent kopperson

Brent Kopperson, Executive Director and Founder of Windfall Ecology Centre

As for Windfall Ecology Centre, they’ve spent 15 years championing innovative climate change solutions across York Region under Executive Director & Founder Brent Kopperson’s leadership. This summer Brent and his Board prioritized the launch of a business-focused sustainability program in 2015. Unbeknownst to them, the City of Vaughan already had a target-based sustainability program for business included in their 2014 Community Climate Action Plan, and had applied to join the CoLab Network in our 2015 intake round, but they had yet to finalize a lead organization. The synchronicity was unprecedented and the match obvious, which resulted in a strong joint application from Vaughan and Windfall together.

ReThink Green and Windfall join the five Network Members announced when we launched last January.

One of those five, Durham Sustain Ability (DSA), is the first Emerging Member ready to launch their program. Though to be fair, they had a head-start: over the past year, DSA has rigorously worked through plans to re-launch Durham Partners in Project Green (DPPG), moving towards deeper support of the organizations they work with, integrating a financially self-sufficient program model, and inclusion of target-setting into the program. The re-launch event, Racing Towards Sustainability, will be on Thurs January 29th, 11 am – 2 pm, with Bob Willard as the keynote speaker. Sign up here if interested in being part of it.

Once DPPG re-launches, DSA will be recognized as an Affiliate Member in the CoLab Network and we’ll shift our support to focus on the growth of DPPG.

As for us, we’re thrilled to now be supporting seven organizations in communities across Ontario launching and growing target-based sustainability programs – from Niagara to Sudbury to Ottawa. These organizations are demonstrating that a more sustainable economy is possible, the timing of which couldn’t be better as policy-makers at Queen’s Park consider the most appropriate means of having Ontario lead in the transition to a low carbon economy.

To congratulate or learn more about DSA, reThink Green, Windfall or the City of Vaughan, feel free to reach out on Twitter using their handles below!

Durham Sustain Ability : @DurhamDSA

ReThink Green: @rethinkgreen

Windfall Ecology Centre: @WindfallCentre

City of Vaughan: @City_of_Vaughan

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