Absolutely, I would be glad to.
When Sustainable Waterloo Region, or Niagara Sustainability Initiative, or EnviroCentre approaches a business, their conversation is twofold.
The first side is the business case for sustainability broadly. To be clear, that business case differs depending on the sector. For manufacturing, for example, it's often very much about cost savings. For a professional services firm, mind you, it might be more about employee attraction. I'll give you the case of Ernst and Young in Waterloo region, for example. If you spoke to their managing partner, he would tell you that the reason why they've set a target to reduce their carbon footprint is so that when they get a question from a generation-Y superstar accountant coming out of university, they want to be able to differentiate across their peers. This gives them a way to do so, to say, “Yes, we have an environmental strategy. Let me tell you about our 20% target and the third party group who is keeping us accountable to achieve that.”
Another side of it is on the retail, and I mentioned very briefly those that are manufacturing consumer goods around the supply chain risk. Walmart, for example, has now begun to prioritize their supply chain based on the environmental records of companies that they work with, and it's also about improving their brand.
The first conversation is about understanding the business case for any particular organization that might be looking at reducing their environmental impact. Secondly, for those that participate in a program like the regional carbon initiative, it's to say, “Yes, there's a fee to participate, and here's the support you will receive.” Those fees in Waterloo region, for example, are between $500 to $5,000 a year per company based on size. Sun Life Financial and Wilfrid Laurier University pay $5,000 a year. Athena Software pays $500.
For that, as a social enterprise, they receive access to the software to track their carbon footprint. They get access to the events throughout the year. They get access to the guides, resources, and supports. They also get recognized for the progress they make so that when Sustainable Waterloo Region comes back, and there are 400 people in the room, and the media are there, they can say, “Yes, here are those who have done particularly well. It's not just that they're green, but let me tell you about the actual target they've set, the progress they've made, and the more profitable they are as a result.”
To the question asked, the conversation is, again, both about the business case around saving money, attracting employees, and improving their public image, and it's about there being a fee and a value proposition to the services they get from the not-for-profit.