The greening of businesses: it’s now!

On April 14, the Chamber held its Strategic Forum on Going Green in Business. More than 450 participants gathered at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth to learn about tools and best practices to start and accelerate their green transition. A look back at the highlights of this content-rich morning.

“95% of businesses feel it is important to make a shift, according to the Chamber’s latest survey on this important issue. At a time when 79% of them need additional support to properly integrate a green strategy into their business model, the timing of this Forum was perfect.” ‒ Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Specific projects to accelerate the greening of urban businesses

Cities and metropolises are in the front line of the climate emergency. The greening of businesses in urban areas is therefore essential to achieve the ecological transition on a collective scale and to curb the impact of climate change. The business community is committed to making a difference and being part of the solution. That is why three major announcements were made during the event.

The Chamber and BMO introduced a new platform for accelerating the greening of urban businesses.

“We want to create a movement that will bring together all of Montréal’s economic players to position our city at the forefront of the fight against climate change. I am calling on the leaders of the business community to stand up and take a step forward. The conviction is growing. The more we talk about it, the more we accelerate the transition.” ‒ Grégoire Baillargeon, President, BMO Financial Group, Québec

The platform for accelerating the greening of urban businesses, co-developed by the Chamber and BMO, is a call to action for the business community. It plans to roll out new services, tools and action plans to help businesses successfully transition to carbon neutrality.

Learn more and contribute to the platform

The Forum on Going Green in Business also featured Graham Carr, President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia University, making an announcement about a bold climate initiative called PLAN/NET-ZERØ.

“We want to provide space to all the players in the ecosystem to work together in the various phases of the project. Specifically, our two campuses will be transformed into living laboratories to serve as a blueprint for decarbonization.” ‒ Graham Carr, President and Vice-Chancellor, Concordia University

Lastly, Martin Massé, Vice President, Sustainable Development at ADM Aéroports de Montréal, took the opportunity to unveil the organization’s first-ever sustainability plan. The ultimate goal of this plan is to position YUL and YMX as two benchmark airports for their sustainable practices and social responsibility.

These important announcements illustrate local organizations’ commitment to take action now.

How to make a success of your green transition

Going green in business is a great opportunity to improve environmental and operational performance. To this end, the discussions showed that it is entirely possible for the green transition and value creation to coexist, and that there are many opportunities, especially for SMEs. Profit and the environment can go hand in hand.

Initiate or accelerate your environmentally responsible approach

Sustainable sourcing, reducing waste production, using renewable energy, limiting water consumption... These are all strategies that can be adopted to integrate eco-responsibility into the corporate mission. Regardless of the option chosen, the experts at the Forum agree that you shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box to find bold solutions and, most importantly, to measure your gains.

This is the case of solar watch company Solios, which strives to have the lowest possible environmental impact. To do this, it set up a supply chain that can deliver recycled stainless steel to the factories producing its watches. In addition, Solios recently repatriated its assembly line to Canada.

The starting point of an environmentally responsible approach can be to carry out a diagnosis of processes or to set up a sustainable development committee. Companies present at the Forum report that this type of initiative has allowed them to learn about their impact as well as best eco-responsible practices before taking action.

Financing your green transition

Access to financing is central to any project to improve a company’s environmental performance.

Among these programs, the Fonds Écoleader provides grants to businesses to help them adopt environmentally responsible practices and cleantech. Furthermore, the Québec government has announced that it is injecting $8.3 million into this fund for the next year to encourage as many companies as possible to adopt environmentally responsible business practices. Investissement Québec’s Fonds Compétivert has increased its funding target from $350 million by 2024 to $1 billion following genuine interest in the program. It provides loans to businesses to facilitate the integration of cleantech and environmentally responsible practices.

According to the representatives of these two programs at the Forum, companies wishing to avail themselves of funding to accelerate their green strategy must have specific objectives and a well-defined project. Assistance is available to help businesses apply.

In short, going green is a priority for companies and for the Montréal business community. The transition is underway, but more work is needed quickly to curb the effects of climate change. Let’s continue our commitment to the environment while preserving our economic vitality!

About the Strategic Forum on Going Green in Business

The Strategic Forum on Going Green in Business was held by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. It was produced in association with Bombardier, Fonds de Solidarité FTQ, Ville de Montréal and Montréal-Trudeau International Airport; in collaboration with Aecon, Evol, Investissement Québec, Loto-Québec, Pomerleau and Concordia University; and in partnership with CGI, the Montreal Gazette and Startup Montréal.

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