By: Mary Allen
Toronto Greenhouse has been in the business of drawing together “eco-friendly business people” since 2009 with monthly, themed networking events. Green building design, green energy, transport, finance, jobs and dragons have all held centre stage at Greenhouse sessions over the past two or so years. The pivotal role of IT in efforts to green business operations has also received due attention as organizers focused on IT potential to improve environmental impacts – in a conference on green information technology held last March, and more recently at the second annual Green Business Strategy Summit which convened in Toronto last week.
With a broad mandate to help participants develop strategies for success in the “green economy”, Toronto Greenhouse founder Randy Tyrell invited specialists from a number of disciplines to the summit to provide guidance in breakout sessions on marketing, communications, green buildings, procurement, employee engagement, metrics/benchmarking, product lifecycle design and IT. The summit also offered direction through keynote presentations designed to highlight new approaches and the latest research from the sustainability field. Andy Shibata, head of brand marketing at RBC, for example, delivered a compelling look at the growing trend towards corporate cause marketing, in which companies align their brand with a social cause as a means of driving new business. “Consumerism with a conscience is now table stakes” in the world of marketing, Shibata explained, and “doing good is good for business,” adding that RBC has been especially careful to establish meaningful progress in Blue Water, its program to raise awareness and distribute funds for global water initiatives. And in the lunchtime keynote, Bill Murphy, partner in KPMG advisory services for global sustainability (Canada), presented on the latest KPMG research into corporate sustainability and reporting, noting growth (almost 80% of the top 100 Canadian companies now produce corporate responsibility reports, up from 60% in 2008) driven by securities regulators, and developing trends towards integrated reporting of sustainability goals and annual financial performance, climate change regulation (watch Australia), industry imperatives for emissions reductions, etc., and growing activity in the clean tech and renewable sectors.