The realities that transformed how we lived and worked over the past year also had an unexpected impact on our environment. As people stayed home more and drove less, scientists were able to measure a discernible reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
While many ATB team members were already set up to work from home either full time or as needed, at the beginning of the pandemic, 78% were now encouraged to work remotely, with more than 850 team members being newly set up for it. This shift resulted in a noticeable change in our carbon footprint. Also, during this last year, our corporate space occupancy was only 3% utilization on average. Although this change was encouraging, we know it is temporary. Once we are able to safely return to our workplace settings, we expect our carbon footprint to return to pre-pandemic levels. This means we must continue our efforts to move toward a more sustainable future by looking for ways to reduce our footprint as we transition to life after COVID-19.
ATB and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) have both been part of Alberta’s landscape since 1938, when ATB received its charter and DUC established its first habitat restoration project near Medicine Hat.
In 2013, we came together as partners through DUC’s Revolving Land Conservation Program (RLCP). The RLCP secures habitat in strategically targeted priority landscapes while providing productive land for agricultural use. The ATB Financial Legacy Fund provides for the purchase of the lands, while other funds may be used to restore the land for waterfowl, other wildlife, and a diversity of ecosystem services including carbon storage and nutrient removal. The land is then sold to producers with a registered conservation easement that protects the habitat while allowing use for haying and grazing. The proceeds of the sale are used to purchase other land, and the process repeats itself. By protecting habitat and then putting it back in the hands of landowners, we can create a sustainable environmental and economical solution to wetland conservation.
Over the last eight years, our work with DUC has resulted in 11,581 acres of conserved habitat on 35 projects across Alberta. These numbers tell the story of the environmental benefits made possible through this partnership
A big part of being built to help Albertans is helping to build a better future. Certified net-zero homes, which produce at least as much energy as they use, are an important part of a more sustainable future for our province. Over the past year, ATB has begun looking at ways to encourage Albertans to explore net-zero homes, with a goal of making those homes and the technology they use more affordable and accessible. We are currently in the early stages of creating a partnership that will drive more net-zero construction and offer interest rate incentives for potential buyers.
Our ATB Capital Markets analysts are being certified in the fundamentals of sustainable accounting through the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board, which provides standards to assess and review a company’s efforts related to ESG. These efforts also support ATB’s dedication to the greater good, as they help both us and our clients make better informed decisions toward sustainability performance, which leads to better outcomes for businesses and the economy.
Over the past several years, we have been working on retrofitting branches to improve energy efficiency. This project has been on pause over the last year as ATB prioritized our response to the pandemic, but we plan to resume it in FY2022. To date, we have retrofitted 140 of our branches. Since launching our 2014 carbon inventory study, upgrades to cooling controls and lighting systems have helped us achieve a 25% reduction in direct energy emissions. They’ve also reduced our electricity consumption by more than 3.6 million kilowatt-hours.
Our commitment to renewable energy hasn’t wavered. As in previous years, we used the savings from our power bill to buy Campus Energy renewable energy certificates equivalent to 12,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, meaning that all of ATB’s purchased power is still green. We also acted on the appetite we saw among the ATB team members working at our Calgary Campus corporate location and had three level-one electric-vehicle charging stations installed, with the ability to upgrade to level-two stations in the future.
ATB is investing in renewable energy—including helping to finance the Suffield and Yellow Lake solar projects in southeast Alberta and construction of a new solar power generation facility near Claresholm. Upon completion, these facilities are expected to generate enough energy to power thousands of Alberta homes annually.
ATB continued to offer our solar panel financing program, which helps our commercial, residential, and agricultural clients install solar panels on their business or property. The program runs through 46 participating vendors across the province and has seen 27 applications as at March 31, 2021, with a retail total loan approval of over $595,000. We are continuing to focus on bringing visibility and awareness to the program and ensuring it is easier to access for both our team members and clients.
ATB has invested in the Cascade Power Project, expected to be the largest and most efficient gas-fired power plant in our province, which will provide power to 900,000 homes while reducing Alberta’s carbon footprint by 5%. This equity investment also marks the first transaction supported by the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation.
ATB’s use of DocuSign continued to see marked improvements in paper reduction. For 2020, DocuSign helped ATB save:
|Metric||2019 carbon inventory study||2020 carbon inventory study||FY2022 target||Action plan|
|Total carbon footprint(1)||37,522 tCO₂e||27,963 tCO₂e||Uncertainty still exists as public health measures and restrictions continue; however, ATB will aim, at a minimum, to maintain the performance achieved in our 2019 carbon inventory study.||Continue to improve monitoring, tracking, and reporting for reliability and accuracy of information. Understand how the pandemic has affected carbon footprint and assess the impact of returning to the workplace post-pandemic.|
|Direct energy consumption by primary source (natural gas only)||6,353 tCO₂e||5,649 tCO₂e||Work toward understanding future trends, which depend on the impact of returning to the workplace and the opportunities to optimize corporate and branch space.|
|Indirect energy consumption by primary source (electricity only)||19,349 tCO₂e||16,801 tCO₂e||Work toward understanding future trends, which depend on the impact of returning to the workplace and the opportunities to optimize corporate and branch space.|
|Other indirect emissions sources(2)||11,758 tCO₂e||5,513 tCO₂e||Leverage technology to improve and optimize distance communication and collaboration even when public health measures are reduced and eventually removed.|
|Business travel (air)||519 tCO₂e||35 tCO₂e||Encourage videoconferencing and other remote-work strategies to reduce travel.|
|Hotel||195 tCO2e||19 tCO₂e||Encourage videoconferencing and other remote-work strategies to reduce travel.|
|Business travel (other)||1,729 tCO₂e||157 tCO₂e||Encourage videoconferencing and other remote-work strategies to reduce travel.|
|Employee commuting||8,978 tCO₂e||5,100 tCO₂e||Support both work-from-home strategies and alternative transportation such as bike-to-work initiatives that include secure bike-parking areas and lockers.|
|Waste||254 tCO₂e||144 tCO₂e||Education programs and waste audits have been placed on hold during the pandemic due to reduction in waste from ATB team members working from home. This will be a focus and consideration in our post-pandemic workplace strategy.|
|Paper usage||83 tCO₂e||58 tCO₂e||Continued reduction in paper usage.||Continue to drive paperless solutions for ATB communications.|
|Meeting environmental standards in all new buildings and renovations||Achieved||Achieved (No new locations during FY2021)||New locations will follow environmental standards.||Evolve and enhance environmental standards with changing branch and corporate design.|