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Green living is part of the package at BC Housing

Open this photo in gallery:Green living is part of the package at BC Housing

A BC Housing employee harvesting celery at a farm to donate to food banks.Provided

Choices about green lifestyles usually begin at home, but at BC Housing, employees are encouraged and assisted in making those choices. That’s thanks to programs like the Livegreen Employee Council, an employee group from across the organization tasked with helping set goals and make changes.

Christina Rosema, a senior communications specialist at BC Housing, is also chair of the Livegreen Employee Council, which was set up at the organization 13 years ago. It includes employees from across the Crown agency who help staff achieve goals at home and at work that harmonize with the organization’s environmental goals.

“We focus our activities and campaigns around these major sustainability issue areas,” Rosema says, “like climate change mitigation and adaptation, pollution prevention, biodiversity protection, and appreciation of nature.”

The council works with departments like Human Resources to implement programs to help cut down individual carbon footprints. There are subsidized transit passes, Bike to Work Week, discounts at retailers and a financing program to help fund bike purchases.

“We work to help people make more sustainable choices at home, at work and in the community,” Rosema says. That involves collaboration with departments at BC Housing like People, Plants and Homes; Energy and Sustainability; and Sustainability & Resilience.

Magdalena Szpala is director of sustainability & resilience at BC Housing, which builds and runs social housing for the province. Her department works with the Livegreen Employee Council to produce webinars that bring in experts to discuss topics like green buildings, managing waste responsibly and other sustainability topics. It also connects with Royal Roads University to offer courses on climate adaptation, which are available to employees across BC Housing.

In addition, “we work very intentionally with senior leadership to incorporate sustainability considerations into our business strategy, policies and activities,” Szpala says.

Environmental goals have been at the heart of the organization for years, she says, noting that it has been carbon neutral since 2010 and works to measure and reduce emissions annually, tracked with regularly published ‘Climate Change Accountability and Sustainability’ reports.

“Historically we’ve been focusing on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency. More recently, we’ve also been working on climate adaptation, as well as equity and environmental justice,” Szpala says.

While these green initiatives are an obvious fit for an organization like BC Housing, Rosema thinks they can be put into use in almost any workplace. She recalls taking an online course recently and having someone else in the class from a different company reach out to talk about the work she was doing on Livegreen.

“That was really exciting to share,” she says. “I feel like there’s a real appetite for that.”

Szpala says that working with Livegreen representatives has been personally inspiring for her as well. A vegetarian for decades, she noticed that many council members were vegan. “I thought that seemed like an easy jump, but I actually found it really hard,” she says.

“I really admire my colleagues who are vegan and who share tips and ways to make it easy and fun. They’ve been a great inspiration for me in my personal life.”

As for the council’s main work, says Rosema, “we can reach so many employees and connect them to our sustainability goals and outreach – to keep it in focus and remind everyone of the importance of it in all aspects of our lives.

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.