CoLab Connects 2016

Since its founding but a few short years ago, Sustainability CoLab has achieved great success in helping businesses and companies across Ontario to embrace environmentally-appropriate sustainability efforts. The adaptations and changes have proven very beneficial to the organizations and their communities, as tangible and meaningful steps are taken to reduce our climate impacts while also helping to guide Canadian businesses on the path to a lower-carbon economy.

Effectively, the members of the CoLab Network are helping to build the sustainable economy in cities across Ontario. Through their programs, networks of local businesses are supported in setting and achieving sustainability goals and are celebrated for progress made.

And it all started in the Kitchener-Waterloo community. Sustainability CoLab was inspired by the success of Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR)’s flagship program, the Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI), which has built a thriving sustainability network in Waterloo Region that works with organizations to set and achieve carbon reduction goals.

In the first five years, the RCI engaged 65 members in Waterloo Region – representing over 14% of the Region’s workforce – who collectively committed to reducing carbon emissions by 53,000 tonnes annually (equivalent to taking 12,000 cars off the road each year). The program also achieved financial self-sufficiency over this period, ensuring it will continue to operate regardless of external factors. Read more about the RCI in SWR’s 2014 Report.

The idea for Sustainability CoLab had its genesis in 2010. As the RCI began to demonstrate rapid success, other communities– from Ukraine to the U.S. to Niagara Region—became increasingly interested in adapting the model of what CoLab now refers to as “target-based sustainability programs”. Out of this demand came the idea: take what worked in Waterloo Region and try to scale it out to a provincial, national, perhaps even global movement.

Soon after, SWR’s founder and then Executive Director, Mike Morrice, began to coach and mentor a few interested communities during evenings and weekends. By January 2011, the Niagara Sustainability Initiative had launched their own target-based sustainability program, the Carbon Project.

Following Trillium-funded research on how to share this approach with communities across Canada and an incubation period within Sustainable Waterloo Region to get off the ground, Sustainability CoLab fully incorporated as a national non-profit in January 2012. Today, CoLab continues to expand its presence across the province - and its impacts in helping our communities become more environmentally-sustainable.

And June 23rd, we'll be joining with the CoLab team to celebrate the 2nd Annual CoLab Connects event and are looking forward to:

  • Celebrating progress of CoLab Network members and their networks of businesses building the low-carbon economy in communities across Ontario
  • Connecting with over 300 visionaries and builders of Ontario’s low-carbon economy at a cocktail reception in one of Bay Street’s oldest economic locales, on the Historic Trading Floor of the TSX at the Design Exchange.
  • Examining the value of engaging organizations of all sectors and sizes in the low-carbon economy during a Town Hall Speaker’s Forum: Beyond Regulation: Inspiring climate action outside cap and trade.

You can learn more about the CoLab Connects event here:

We look forward to seeing at this very worthwhile celebration.


If you liked this article, please subscribe or donate today to support our work.

A\J moderates comments to maintain a respectful and thoughtful discussion.
Comments may be considered for publication in the magazine.