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YMCA, York U among Greenest Employers

The YMCA of Greater Toronto and York University are among Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2024, Mediacorp Canada., Inc. organizers of the annual Canada’s Top 100 Employers project has announced.

“The common thread that runs through this year’s winners is that they listen to the employees who care most about implementing green initiatives and encourage them to lead the conversation,” says Chantel Watkins, assistant editor at Mediacorp.

Any employer operating in Canada may apply for the Canada’s Greenest Employers competition. “By giving a voice to local champions, the staff members who are most passionate about the environment get the ball rolling on workplace initiatives that can make a significant difference,” Watkins says.

Now in its 17th year, Canada’s Greenest Employers is an editorial competition that recognizes the employers that lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness. Winning employers, selected by editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, are evaluated using four main criteria: unique environmental initiatives or programs they have developed; whether they have been successful in reducing their own environmental footprint; whether their employees are involved in these programs and contribute unique skills; and whether the environmental initiatives have become part of an employer’s public identity, attracting new employees and customers.

The YMCA of Greater Toronto added green roofs to its urban locations and supports a program to naturalize playgrounds. It maintains urban farming sites at Greater Toronto Area locations, including rooftop and balcony gardens. More than 250 employees are involved with green teams that have dedicated thousands of hours supporting initiatives to ensure it operates in a more sustainable manner, from internal operations to green initiatives it undertakes. The organization also hosts Green Leader training sessions twice per year to encourage employees to get involved.

At York University, a Sustainability innovation Fund provides funding for campus projects that can advance climate action and support the university’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2049. All faculty, staff, and students can submit applications to propose projects that address direct or indirect emissions, including those produced by commuting, energy, food, waste, behaviour change, awareness and engagement or nature-based solutions.

The university reports a dramatic shift away from single-occupant vehicle trips to and from campus for both employees and students alike through longstanding alternative transportation initiatives that include a shuttle bus service between campuses, three bicycle repair stations, an ongoing green fleet program that includes electric golf carts, bikes, hybrid and electric vehicles, and the connection of the Keele campus to the City of Toronto’s subway system.

Photo courtesy of the YMCA Greater Toronto.

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