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Sustainable Development Strategy

Moving Forward

NRCan demonstrates its commitment to sustainable development in its operations.

As a federal government organization, NRCan has a responsibility to provide Canadians with a department that is efficiently and effectively managed in all respects. However, to achieve progress towards our vision it will be imperative to go beyond normal business practice. As a champion of the sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources, the Department must demonstrate its commitment to the principles of sustainable development in its own operations in order to be able to lead with authority and credibility. Canada’s natural resource sectors and allied industries expect the Department to provide a model of sustainable development, as well as the policies and programs that support it.

Sustainable Federal
House in Order

Natural Resources Canada is a Co-champion of Sustainable Federal House in Order, an interdepartmental initiative designed to identify and coordinate opportunities to advance the federal commitment to be a leader in sustainable development. Sustainable Federal House in Order oversees the Sustainable Development in Government Operations (SDGO) and Federal House in Order (FHIO) initiatives. Our organization is working together with other Sustainable Federal House in Order departments and agencies to adopt common measurement and reporting methods.

Operations is the obvious starting point for implementing sustainable development principles in the government context. NRCan has taken on a leading role in the federal government-wide Sustainable Federal House in Order (SFHIO) initiative. The initiative focuses on promoting progress in six priority areas of operations in order to advance sustainable development: energy efficiency/greenhouse gas emissions (buildings); vehicle fleet management; land use management, solid non-hazardous waste management; water conservation; and green procurement. A seventh priority area, human resources management, is considered in terms of management activities that can be undertaken with respect to the other six areas. Further work to promote greater progress in the development of tracking mechanisms, the refinement of performance measures, as well as more comprehensive reporting will give the federal government the ability to better evaluate its progress on its commitments, and the tools required to move forward on implementing comprehensive green operating practices. This initiative is helping the federal government to become a model of environmental excellence in its own operations, and contributing to federal efforts to meet the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

A key focus for the Department, within its own house, is furthering its work to implement a comprehensive environmental management system (EMS). An EMS facilitates managing the Department’s assets responsibly while minimizing environmental impacts and facilitates pursuing more comprehensive tracking. Aspects to manage include the reduction of energy consumption and emissions from NRCan custodial facilities, as well as the reduction of water consumption.

NRCan recognizes that sustainable development goes beyond environmental targets, and is therefore also emphasizing corporate social responsibility in its relationships with employees and other stakeholders. For example, NRCan identified the need to further develop and implement a department-wide values and ethics program (see Appendix 3) to enable better decision-making and make more consistent choices based on a shared understanding of values. From input from dialogue sessions with staff at headquarters and all NRCan regional offices, a renewed values statement — highlighting Professionalism, Stewardship, Honesty, Respect, and Continuous Improvement — was developed and launched during National Public Service Week 2003.

The Department will continue to evolve as a model of sustainable development in both operations and organizational culture, providing leadership within the federal government community and improving our ability to champion sustainable development within Canada’s resource sectors and internationally.


Icon: Policy and GovernanceIcon: Best Practices and Models

4.1 Improve NRCan operations through sound environmental management

Icon: Policy and GovernanceIcon: Best Practices and Models

4.2 Develop and implement further strategies to improve resource use efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in NRCan facilities

Action 4.1: Improve NRCan operations through sound environmental management
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

Sound environmental management is paramount to achieving the conduct of operations in a sustainable manner. NRCan’s Environment Policy and the principles of the ISO 14001 international standard provide the framework for environmental management activities at NRCan. A well-structured, implemented and managed environment management system (EMS) is key to implementing sustainability principles in NRCan operations.

A fully functional EMS within the Department will be implemented. No formal certification will be sought, but the system will be aligned with the principles of ISO 14001, as well as the Greening of Government Operations Policy. The implementation will be done in coordination with all sectors of NRCan.

Environmental monitoring activities will be continued to ensure that departmental operations are carried out with minimal environmental impacts. NRCan will measure, store and manage data on environmental aspects of the Department’s operations to facilitate environment reporting and planning.

NRCan maintains its commitment to continue conducting Environmental Compliance Audits of NRCan facilities with operations of potential environmental impacts.

By 2005, review and update departmental Environmental Policy (2000) to incorporate the requirements of new legislation/regulation and government policies.

By 2005, review all the environmental aspects related to NRCan operations and conduct baseline studies for aspects identified as significant.

By 2005, complete a consolidated database on environmental information.

By 2006, complete conformity assessments of all petroleum storage tanks with respect to new federal storage tank regulations.

By 2006, establish improvement targets for signficant aspects.

A comprehensive view of the environmental aspects of the Department’s operations that will enable the development of a formal EMS.

A consolidated database, the tool necessary to monitor progress and facilitate reporting and planning.

NRCan is better positioned to inform the public and its employees of its progress in achieving sustainability in its operations.

To be a model of sustainable development, NRCan must manage its assets in a responsible manner to minimize environmental impacts.

The reduction of risks and liabilities associated with departmental contaminated sites and, where possible, the recapture of the social and economic value, are Government of Canada priorities: 2002 Throne Speech commitment to “accelerate the clean-up of federal contaminated sites” and the Treasury Board’s recent Contaminated Sites Management Policy.

Brownfields are idle or underused properties where past activities have caused environmental contamination but, nonetheless, exhibit good potential for other uses (or upgrading) and which provide economically viable business opportunities. NRCan’s headquarters, the Booth Street Complex, can be considered a brownfield.

The Department will work to minimize the environmental and health risks and the associated liabilities of NRCan contaminated sites.

By 2005, complete further assessment activities where required for currently identified potentially contaminated sites.

By 2005, present a strategy to Treasury Board for remediation of contaminated sites where required.

By 2009, complete remediation of contaminated sites (contingent on Treasury Board approval).

By 2004, complete the Booth Street Redevelopment Strategy.

By 2005, present redevelopment strategy to the Treasury Board.

By 2008, implement strategy (contingent on Treasury Board approval).

Necessary corrective measures are provided, satisfying due diligence and enabling sustained environment quality.

Reduced risk and liabilities related to a departmental contaminated site.

Recaptured social and economic value of underdeveloped sites.

Action 4.2: Develop and implement further strategies to improve resource use efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in NRCan facilities
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

Reducing departmental energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from real property assets is essential to achieve sustainable NRCan operations and to achieve the Department’s commitments under Federal House in Order and Canada’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

Federal real property assets contribute 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions from the federal government. As a custodian of more than 250 buildings and more than 300,000 square metres of space, NRCan has committed to significantly reduce its real property greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the targets on the right, the Department will continue to implement NRCan’s Framework for Use and Management of Office and General Purpose Space, track greenhouse gas emissions on a facility-to-facility basis, maintain existing departmental management processes that take greenhouse gas emissions and energy reductions into consideration (such as asset management plans, building management plans and long-term capital plan), and contribute expertise to existing departmental and interdepartmental initiatives.

By 2004, complete a background and feasibility study with the view to develop a national Sustainable Buildings Policy (new construction, demolition, recapitalization and maintenance).

By 2006, draft and implement the Policy.

By 2006, identify and develop business cases for custodial facilities that have not participated in the Federal Buildings Initiative.

By 2004, investigate the feasibility of realizing, either through innovation, lease or new construction, a sustainable building project.

By 2004, make necessary changes to departmental service agreement with Public Works and Government Services Canada to reflect sustainable real property considerations.

Reduced departmental energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Progress towards achieving the Department’s target under the Federal House in Order commitment to reduce emissions by 30.6% from 1990 levels by 2012.

Like the reduction of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the reduction of water consumption is essential to achieving sustainable NRCan operations.

Water conservation activities aim to achieve the following: the reduction of the absolute amounts of water (less water per person or given product or service) and/or the reduction of the rate (using water only when it is needed) at which water is used on a daily basis (sustainable use).

By 2004, consultation on NRCan’s Draft Water Conservation Strategy completed, Strategy finalized and approved.

By 2004, provide input into the feasibility study for the development of a national Sustainable Buildings Policy.

By 2005, establish baseline data of water consumption.

By 2006, establish a target to reduce water consumption at NRCan facilities.

The sustainable use of water, which contributes to overall sustainable NRCan operations.

SD Success Story

Investing in people: Building SD Capacity at NRCan

More than simply a goal to be aspired to or an achievable end result, sustainable development is also a process of change, including institutional change. One aspect of the practice of sustainable development at NRCan involves fostering the evolution of SD from its starting point as a high-level policy initiative towards its future as an integral part of organizational culture.

Taking action to improve the efficiency of facilities, waste reduction and improved waste- management practices, implementing green procurement—all are important components of operationalizing sustainable development. But these actions do not address the social side of SD. Social responsibility is a key element of SD and it includes the Department’s commitments to its employees, as well as fostering a healthy and productive work environment.

Many NRCan employees are challenged to address sustainable development on two fronts: as it relates to subject of their work in Canada’s natural resource sectors, and as it relates to their own work lives as public employees. As an employer, NRCan has chosen to show leadership and support its employees in enhancing their understanding of sustainable development, so they can practise it in their day-to-day activities.

NRCan’s SDS 2001 articulated a commitment to strengthening the Department’s capacity to advance sustainable development throughout all aspects of its operations. A number of targets were put forward in support of enhancing organizational capacity, including a plan to develop a sustainable development policy course for NRCan staff.

The Sustainable Development Capacity Building Course, first offered in 2001, has provided policy and program officers with up-to-date training and skills. The course aims to contribute to better decision-making by enhancing the participants’ knowledge of sustainable development concepts and practices, giving them tools to integrate social, economic and environmental considerations in their day-to-day responsibilities.

Over the two-day course participants:

  • review the evolution of sustainable development ideas and practices over the past 15 years,
  • study the international and domestic pressures and opportunities for advancing sustainable development in the public and private sectors,
  • explore case studies from around the world, examining how public and private organizations are implementing sustainable development in other jurisdictions,
  • assess sustainable development ideas, practices and challenges vis-à-vis NRCan’s mandate and activities,
  • discuss the implications of sustainable development for the Department’s roles and responsibilities,
  • examine practical tools that can be used to apply sustainable development objectives to decision making and business practices, and
  • participate in a workshop session on ‘thinking through’ the implications for sustainable development implementation in their work.

So far, the course has been offered five times, providing a unique learning opportunity for more than 100 NRCan staff members. In addition to the policy and program officers who were identified as the primary target group for the course, several managers, scientists and co-op students have also participated.

The capacity-building course has proven to be a substantial first step in engaging all NRCan staff in the Department’s quest to lead by example when it comes to sustainable development. One of the most important outcomes of the course is the development of an informal network of ‘ambassadors’ for sustainable development. Employees who have taken the course are now better able to recognize how their work contributes to sustainable development; they are encouraged to share this knowledge with their colleagues and lead by example through their day-to-day actions. Some will no doubt emerge as star players on the team working to help spread understanding of sustainable development throughout NRCan’s workforce.

Several ‘next steps’ have been identified to build on the success achieved so far. Feedback from participants has been used to help guide this course of action. Plans are under way to offer the course in versions geared to managers and scientists, and the course will be brought to NRCan staff across the country by offering it at regional offices.

These efforts, and those that will evolve from them, will keep NRCan moving forward on the path to becoming an organization that practises sustainable development in all aspects of its operations.

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