(Originally published in the March 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - Going Green feature)
When it comes to sustainability, Canadians haven’t had a lot to cheer for in recent months. Becoming the first nation to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and the polarization of citizens across the country over pipeline development proposals to expand the tar sands, Canada’s business climate is in question.
Quietly behind the scenes there’s a responsible business movement afoot to redefine how business is done in Canada. This may be the biggest change you haven’t heard about, until now.
These founding Canadian B Corporations are a new breed of company, certified by the non‐profit B Lab, for their positive impact on the community, employees, consumers and the environment.
What makes this certification unique isn’t just the comprehensive performance requirement for “good” a company must achieve, but the added requirement that these companies go further, amending their governing documents with a statement that their business shall consider stakeholder interests when making business decisions.
There are now 39 founding B Corporations in Canada, with 27 new companies certifying in the past 12 months. These companies range from small‐sized consultancies to multi‐million dollar manufacturers.
Spanning 25 industries — from Bullfrog Power (renewable energy), Ethical Bean and Salt Spring Coffee (beverages), Ian Martin Group (Job Placement), to Renewal2 (impact investing) — these companies are diverse and competitive in both local markets and in the US.
B Corporations emerged in the U.S. in 2007 and now total over 500. They’ve enabled the creation of Benefit Corporation legislation, a new corporate form in seven states, most recently in California and New York, wherein a company can legally form with an express purpose to have a material positive impact on people and the environment.
Outdoor apparel company, Patagonia, was amongst to first to opt for this new corporate status in California. Toronto-based MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is at the helm for efforts in Canada, currently helping companies certify in Ontario, launching the Social Venture Exchange, and finalizing a white paper on Benefit Corporation legislation for the federal government.
Estimates state that over 40,000 values‐based companies exist in North America. With nearly 40 B Corps now in Canada, this could just be the beginning of a very large movement. For further information, check out: www.bcorporation.net
FAST FACTS: Unlike traditional businesses, B Corps:
• Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards.
• Adhere to higher legal accountability standards.
• Build business constituency for public policies that support sustainable business.
In profile: Bullfrog Power
Bullfrog Power, Canada's 100 per cent green energy provider, has become a B Corp to formally recognize its commitment to Canadians and the environment, and to join a growing group of organizations using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. “Bullfrog Power is an example of a rapidly growing part of the economy — the social enterprise,” says Tom Heintzman, president, Bullfrog Power. “By using business strategy to forward social and environment objectives, we hope to, with other B Corps, help bring about meaningful change for society. For us, that change includes a future powered by renewable energy.”
Bullfrog's mission is to provide Canadians with easy and practical 100 per cent renewable energy solutions for their homes, businesses and transportation that empower them to create a sustainable world for future generations. A double bottom line organization, Bullfrog donates 10 per cent of its profits to organizations that support sustainability. Using customer demand to bring new renewable energy projects online, Bullfrog Power also works with various environmental non-governmental organizations, such as WWF-Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute, to increase awareness of clean energy choices in Canada.
Across Canada, Bullfrog Power's green electricity is sourced exclusively from regional wind and hydro facilities that meet — and in most cases exceed — Environment Canada's EcoLogoM standards for renewable energy. Its green natural gas facilities meet strict environmental standards as defined by ICF International. Furthermore, Bullfrog's products are audited annually to verify that as much green energy has been injected onto the respective energy systems as its customers have used, and that Bullfrog has retired all emissions credits related to customer contracts.
*Read more "Going Green" feature stories at: http://www.ns.dailybusinessbuzz.ca/Industry-Spotlight/Going-Green-22692