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Feature Writer
Brenda Bouw is a freelance writer and editor, as well as an author and ghostwriter based in Vancouver. She has more than 20 years of experience as a business reporter, including at the Globe and Mail, Canadian Press and the Financial Post.

Power of the people

Community ownership of wind farm projects can diminish the backlash against the renewable energy source.

When the 10 turbines started rotating at the Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm in late 2016, they brought more than just green energy to Ontario’s Oxford County – they brought in revenue.

Gunn’s Hill – owned by the Oxford Community Energy Cooperative (OCEC), the Six Nations of the Grand River and developer Prowind Canada – is Ontario’s first community-sponsored wind farm and Canada’s first wind initiative to include both coop and Indigenous ownership.

The $9-million project included individual investments of $1,000 to $10,000 from 136 coop members. The project is meeting its goal of providing a rate of return of between 10 and 11.11 per cent to investors, OCEC executive director Miranda Fuller says.

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2018 top company profile: Hydro-Québec

The public utility decided to overhaul its corporate culture in order to become a better corporate citizen.

One sure sign Hydro-Québec is doing something right by its stakeholders is the growing number of requests the public utility says it has been getting to sponsor local sports teams across the province. More employees also appear to be wearing clothing with the company’s logo around the office and out in the community.

“A few years ago, they were shy of putting the logo on them,” says Éric Martel, president and CEO of the public utility, which manages the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Québec.

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Top company profile: Saskatchewan Research Council

The research and business organization is committed to operating more sustainably

Since it was founded in 1947, the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) has been helping companies grow and then later find ways to reduce their energy, water and waste. The SRC has also developed tools that allow companies to analyse their overall carbon footprint.

Then, earlier this decade, the provincial Crown corporation realized it had overlooked one key stakeholder in its mission to improve environmental performance – itself.

“It was a laugh/cry moment a few years ago when we realized we should be applying some of these tools to ourselves,” says Laurier Schramm, president and CEO of the SRC, one of Canada’s leading applied research, development, demonstration and technology commercialization organizations. “We decided that we couldn’t be all that we could be if we weren’t conducting our own business in a responsible manner and if our communities and partners didn’t perceive us to be doing that.”

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Steel work

The world is going to need a lot more steel in the coming decades, but reducing emissions remains a daunting task.

When it comes to building a low-carbon economy, the steel industry is both part of the problem and part of the solution.

Steelmaking is energy intensive and one of the world’s leading industrial sources of greenhouse gases, generating nearly two tonnes of CO2 emissions per tonne of steel produced and accounting for about five per cent of total GHG emissions. On the flip side, steel is essential to building the infrastructure required in a low-carbon economy - everything from wind turbines and electric vehicles to mass transit systems. Another bonus with steel is that it’s recyclable.

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2017 top company profile: Vancity

The B.C.-based credit union continues to lead corporate Canada on sustainability.

It would be easy to begrudge Vancity for receiving yet another honour for its corporate citizenship if it wasn’t working so damn hard to earn it.

Canada’s largest community credit union has been tackling some top-of-mind social issues ranging from racism and refugees to gender equality and affordable housing. Meantime, its membership and assets under management keep growing. Today, Vancity manages about $25.6 billion in assets, up seven per cent from 2015, and has a goal to grow that further to $40 billion by 2020. It wants to see its membership reach 600,000, up from about 523,000 today.

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