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EY Canada marks carbon neutral office, workplace equality in ESG report

EY Canada showed its latest efforts to reach net-zero by 2025 and build a more equitable workplace in its 2022 corporate responsibility report. (Courtesy EY Canada)

EY Canada, the Canadian division of Big Four accounting firm EY, published its 2022 corporate responsibility report updating its efforts to build an equitable and inclusive workplace that is striving to reach net-zero by 2025.

"Ultimately, forward-thinking companies who take the time to define ESG standards will be empowered to provide objective data that reinforces the value of the work being done to build an organization’s long-term value and sustainability," Kent Kaufield, ESG markets leader and chief sustainability officer at EY Canada, told SustainableBiz in an email.

The company provides tax and law services and industry research, and has over 8,000 employees across 16 offices in Canada.

Continuing work toward net-zero by 2025

EY Canada has committed to being net-zero in 2025 and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent across Scopes 1, 2 and 3 as part of the firm's broader global commitment.

In its global operations, the company reports being carbon negative in financial year 2021, meaning it offset or removed more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emitted. EY says it remained carbon negative in financial year 2022, keeping it on track to reach net-zero by 2025.

EY Canada also highlighted progress in reducing its emissions.

First is a 76 per cent reduction in Canadian business travel emissions since financial year 2019, part of its goal to reduce business travel emissions globally by 35 per cent by 2025. Almost 98 per cent of EY Canada’s offices (measured by square footage) are LEED designed. Three-quarters of EY suppliers by spend will be required to set science-based reduction targets by 2025. It structured electricity supply contracts through virtual power purchase agreements to introduce more renewable electricity than it consumed into national grids, Kaufield said.

The report named its Waterloo office as its first carbon-neutral Canadian office. It features a three-story live plant wall, solar-panelled parking lot, electric vehicle charging stations and waste reduction audits.

EY also noted its Vancouver office in The Stack building is the first Canadian office tower to meet the Canadian Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Design Standard, with 69 rooftop solar panels to generate 26,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year.

EY’s emissions

There is no EY Canada-specific emissions data in the report, but EY’s global operations did announce its company-wide emissions in a separate release.

In financial year 2022, EY says its greenhouse gas emissions totalled 597,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). It is a 56 per cent drop from its 2019 baseline of 1.354 million tCO2e but also a 53 per cent increase from financial year 2021. The increase from 2021 to 2022 is attributed to sharp increases in Scope 3 travel emissions and Scope 2 office electricity usage.

To track its emissions, it uses Enablon's software for Scopes 1 and 2. It also covers energy usage, water consumption, fuel and other data from around 650 EY offices.

It is offsetting emissions with a carbon offset portfolio that removed 723,000 tCO2e – 121 per cent of its 2022 financial year emissions.

EY says the offset projects “meet our criteria for quality offsets and have demonstrated that they are independently verified, additional, permanent, not used for other purposes, will not result in leakage, and have a positive impact on the community.”

It did not provide names of any third-party verifiers.

Fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace

EY Canada embarked on several initiatives in 2022 to support diversity across race, gender, health and identity.

It sought to attract neurodivergent professionals in April 2022 along with National Bank of Canada, and launched a workplace inclusion effort with BNP Paribas in November 2022.

To support Indigenous reconciliation efforts, it developed the EY Indigenous Relations Framework, among other moves like working on its certification through the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business for its Progressive Aboriginal Relations program.

For Black employees, EY Canada launched the Black Professionals Network Reverse Mentorship program and kept to the BlackNorth Initiative pledge.

EY Canada recognized International Trans Day of Visibility “to celebrate transgender people and raise awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.”

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