Vancity’s leadership in environmental sustainability

As a values-based financial cooperative, Vancity credit union is a leader in environmental sustainability, using its financial tools to help its members build sustainable lives, businesses and communities, and reducing the environmental footprint of its own operations.

Environmental leadership

  • In 2019 we signed on to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking and in 2020 signed the Collective Commitment to Climate Action in early 2020, which commits us to establishing specific, time-bound actions and targets to align our lending with the Paris Agreement on Climate.
  • In 2020 we became a supporter of the Taskforce for Climate Related Financial Disclosures.
  • In 2019, following the Global Alliance on Values (GABV) Summit in Vancouver, Vancity committed to a global effort among banking institutions to track and monitor the carbon impact of its portfolio of loans and investments. We’ve since helped to develop the methodology for the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF).
  • In 2018, Vancity CEO Tamara Vrooman served as co-chair of the federal government’s Advisory Council on Climate Action, which released its final report in May 2019.
  • In 2015, Vancity Investment Management fully divested from oil and gas companies within the IA Clarington Inhance Global Equity SRI Class.
  • In 2010, Vancity was the first Canadian financial institution to become a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) - a network of the world’s leading sustainable banks sharing the commitment to achieving triple bottom line impact through responsible banking practices.
  • In 2011, Vancity was the first Canadian financial institution to become a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) - a network of the world’s leading sustainable banks sharing the commitment to achieving triple bottom line impact through responsible banking practices.
  • In 2008, Vancity was the first North American-based financial institution to become carbon neutral.
  • Vancity was among first businesses in the world to integrate environmental, social and financial performance in its annual report.

Vancity’s operations

  • In 2019, Vancity diverted 100% of its waste from landfill - recycling or composting 84% of this amount including all paper products and paper towels, glass, plastics, metals, organics and batteries. Of its 60 branches, 54 are net zero waste, meaning that non-recyclable or compostable waste is diverted from landfill to a waste-to-energy facility.
  • In 2015, a heat recovery unit was installed at Vancity Centre using waste heat from its data centre, decreasing natural gas consumption by up to 97% and winning numerous awards, and has since been used to inform the City of Vancouver policy on actions to achieve its 100% renewable energy strategy.
  • Vancity’s energy management practices include designing to perform above the required energy code, by utilizing more efficient lighting, mechanical and control systems, improved control systems and changing user behaviour to minimize energy use. Vancity has seen a 71% reduction in the annual GHG emissions from electricity between 2009 and 2019.
  • Vancity has reduced GHG from fossil fuels (natural gas) used in building operations by 49% from 2009 to 2019.
  • Vancity’s annual GHG emissions per employee, measured using building energy, measured using transportation and paper use components, has fallen 27% from 2009 to 2019.

Retail environmental products and services

  • Vancity’s enviro™ Visa is a values-based credit card, providing competitive rates and rewards to help cardholders achieve their financial goals while giving back to the community. Every year, 5% of enviro™ Visa card profits go to support the Vancity enviroFund™ program, which invests in local, innovative solutions to improve the environmental wellbeing of our members and communities.
  • Clean Air Vehicle Loan provides preferential rates to members purchasing energy efficient vehicles or electric vehicle charging stations, alternative fuel conversion systems and motorized and non-motorized bicycles and scooters.
  • Vancity Home Energy™ Loan offers members preferential rates for energy efficient home renovations or improvements such as upgrading windows, insulation and solar panels.
  • Socially responsible investments: In 2019, all investment funds managed by Vancity Investment Management (VCIM) became fossil fuel free. Vancity's team of wealth management professionals also have access to a wide range of socially responsible savings and investment products includingMutual funds, Term deposits, Shared World Term Deposits and Discretionary Investment Management.

Business environmental products and services

  • In 2019, Vancity provided $117 million in financing within the environmental sustainability sector, including green buildings, green businesses, clean technology, renewable energy, and local and organic food. Since 2012, we have provided nearly $2 billion in environmental sustainability-related financing.
  • Microloans Program for Green Businesses: This program offers start-up loans or lines of credit of up to $35,000, as well as expansion loans or lines of credit of up to $70,000.
  • Eco Efficiency Loan provides a preferred-rate loan (up to $250,000) and up to 100-per-cent financing for businesses, co-operatives, stratas and not-for-profit organizations implementing energy efficient upgrades.

Environmental grants and funding initiatives

  • In 2019, Vancity approved over $2.1million in grants to support environmental sustainability initiatives in our community.
  • In 2019, Vancity supported the Electrical Joint Training Committee with an enviroFund grant of $70,000 to develop a solar energy training program. This program will deliver training to the next generations of electricians and has an emphasis on upskilling the women and indigenous labour force. In 2019, Vancity provided a $50,000 grant to Synergy Sustainability Institute on Vancouver Island to support Project Zero, a circular economy business incubator, as well as their Vancouver Island Green Business Collective program which are catalyzing the green and circular economy on Vancouver Island.

Environmental partnerships

  • As of January 1, 2019, Vancity’s partnership with Climate Smart has helped more than 160 businesses reduce their carbon footprint and increase cost savings through our scholarship program.
  • In 2019 we launched the Zero Waste Program in collaboration with Recycling Alternative and Green Chair Recycling to help reduce waste from community events. In 2019 we supported 12 community partners and will be expanding the program in 2020.
  • Vancity is a founding partner of the Catalyst Business Coalition, an alliance of BC companies that formed to advocate for strong energy and climate policies and the creation of a resilient economy.
  • In 2016, Vancity grew the PNE zero waste partnership from a one-day event to span the entire 15-day fair. Vancity also partnered with The Binners’ Project, which contributed to the success of waste diversion at the fair, achieving 71% waste diversion in 2018.
  • Vancity was a founding member of the Board of Change, a member-driven organization that educates, transforms and celebrates businesses interested in sustainability.
  • Vancity is a founding partner of LOCO BC, which brings local businesses together to promote local purchasing, local business networking, and sustainability.
  • Since 2011, Vancity has partnered with GreenJobs BC to develop strong bridges between labour and environmental groups to promote the creation of high quality green jobs throughout the province.

Awards

  • Vancity’s annual reports won Best Integrated Report at the 2018 CR Reporting Awards and at the Ethical Corporation 2016 Responsible Business Awards.
  • Vancity was named one of Vancouver’s three most environmentally responsible local companies by the Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver 2017 awards.
  • In 2017, Vancity received a Richmond Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Green Business of the Year. Vancity is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers.

Last updated April 2020