< Corporate Social Responsibility

Protecting the Environment for the Greater Good

You can’t be committed to the greater good without committing to protect the environment. That’s why over the past several years ATB has dialled up our efforts to dial down our environmental impact. Every year, we take on the challenge of finding new ways to use less, reuse more, and move us all toward a more sustainable future. We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.

Reducing our carbon footprint and minimizing our environmental impact is a key part of our corporate social responsibility.

Carbon Footprint

We’ve known for a while that our branches and office space account for almost three-quarters of our carbon footprint. So it only makes sense that most of our reduction efforts focus on the spaces where we work.

To date, we succeeded in retrofitting more than 140 of our branches for energy efficiency. Since we undertook our 2014 carbon inventory study, these upgrades to cooling controls and lighting systems have helped us achieve a 23% reduction in direct energy emissions. They’ve also reduced electricity consumption by more than 3.6 million kilowatt-hours.

As in previous years, we used the savings from our power bill to buy Campus Energy renewable energy certificates that are equivalent to 18,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That means that all of ATB’s purchased power is green.

This past year we commissioned a study to look at the impact of installing solar power (PV) at corporate and branch locations. Information from the study led to planning a pilot project that will examine the financial impact and scalability. We also conducted a survey to help develop a strategy for electric car charging needs for our Calgary campus. Of the 417 respondents, 5% own an electric/hybrid vehicle and 15% plan to purchase an electric/hybrid vehicle in the next two years.

Members of Ducks Unlimited standing together with ATB team members outside, with one member holding a small replica duck
At the Ames site near Stettler, Alberta, Ducks Unlimited has managed to restore several wetlands, which filter and clean the water that eventually runs into the Red Deer River.

Around the Office

Paper Reduction

Our digital signature project continued to cut down the amount of paper we use.

For 2019, DocuSign helped ATB save:

  • 102,057 pounds of wood, equal to 306 trees and 2/5 of a neighborhood park;
  • 273,002 gallons of water, equal to a little more than 9 backyard swimming pools;
  • 229,628 pounds of C0₂, equal to the output of 1,170 refrigerators or 20 cars per year; and
  • 15,053 pounds of solid waste, equal to over 90 trash cans, 2 dumpsters or half a dump truck full of waste.

Planting Seeds

We continued to work on a few smaller-scale projects that have the potential to grow into something spectacular:

  • The office buildings and branches where we control the lighting all participated in Earth Hour in March, turning their lights off in a symbolic gesture aimed at inspiring environmental action.
  • We planted a community garden at our Calgary Campus location with sunflowers, strawberries, herbs and some other bee-friendly plants.

Solar Panel Financing

ATB continued to support our solar panel financing program that helps our commercial, residential and agricultural customers install solar panels on their business or property. The program runs through 45 participating vendors across the province. Moving forward, we are focusing our efforts on adjusting the program to ensure it is easier to access and exploring additional financing options.

Calgary Campus Activities

Campus Waste

Our Calgary Campus office has been steadily reducing waste, thanks in large part to “Chewie”—a thermal vacuum reactor that converts organic waste into biofuel. Chewie is 12 feet long and not particularly choosy, which means he eats everything the 1,100 local team members feed him: food waste, paper cups, coffee grounds, wooden stir sticks, tea bags and more. In the past year waste has been collected from the Calgary branches to be included in this program.

Stats from the past year:

  • Organic waste processed: 17,747 kg;
  • Biomass fuel generated from the organic waste: 6,273 kg; and
  • Kilowatts of energy produced: 4,830 kwh.

Campus Water Reduction

Washroom faucets have been replaced with solar powered hands-free faucets, an installation that has reduced water consumption by 10% and created a healthier no-touch alternative.

With over three acres of irrigated property, an upgrade to irrigation controls and schedules has netted a reduction of 20% of irrigation water onsite. A review of the viability of using rainwater runoff for irrigation use will be undertaken this year.

Lighting Upgrades

Over the past year, incremental conversion of lighting to LED has occurred in common areas, parking garage and exterior pathway and light standards. Energy reduction is 60% in the areas converted and a marked increase of light emission providing a safer environment for team members.

A Bank on Wheels

Two years ago, we launched a rideshare program designed to make it easier for our teams to coordinate car trips. Sharing the ride saves on gas, builds community and lets passengers enjoy the trip. These rides are still in action and popular with team members.

We also continued to operate our cruiser bike program, which provides free bicycles-for-borrow to team members at ATB Place in Edmonton and at our Calgary Campus.

Workplace 3.0

ATB continued to reimagine office space this year, so we could encourage collaboration and reduce wasted space. The size of our workforce, a shift in our core service offering and how we use technology, and the continued adoption of a flexible workstyle has already reduced the actual square footage we occupy by 14% and we estimate we’ll reduce by another 10% over the next three years. Not only will we work smarter, harder and happier, we’ll also cut down on our carbon emissions and reduce our environmental impacts by yet-to-be-quantified amounts.

Community Partnerships

When it comes to working for the greater good, it helps to do it together. That’s why we love partnering up to help the environment.

Ducks Unlimited Canada

Our relationship with Ducks Unlimited began back in 2014. We created the ATB Financial Legacy Fund and paired it with a yearly donation to cover the interest on the loan. Together, the funding is helping Ducks Unlimited purchase and restore thousands of acres of wetlands and earn revenue to purchase new lands for conservation.

As of March 31, 2020, the combined amount of conserved land is 9,547 acres over 29 different projects. Of this conserved land, 1,489 acres are wetlands. These wetlands have the capacity to store approximately 166,734 metric tons of carbon over 33 years. The wetlands and the lands that surround them will also provide a host of other environmental benefits. The partnership is projected to secure over 10,000 acres of habitat in its 10-year lifespan.

Goodwill Industries of Alberta

In 2017 we partnered up with Goodwill Industries of Alberta to divert items from landfills and provide meaningful employment opportunities to Albertans living with disabilities. This year they launched a furniture refurbishment program (ATB Repair for Good program) that will divert more furniture from the landfill and create more job opportunities for Albertans with disabilities.

Goodwill’s Sustainability Action Plan has been recognized by many community organizations including the Alberta Emerald Foundation, the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations and the Recycling Council of Alberta. Goodwill Industries of Alberta diverted 15,891,037 kilos from landfills in 2019, up from 12,358,567 kilos in 2017. They now have a diversion of 85% from the landfill.

Metric 2018 carbon inventory study 2019 carbon inventory study FY2021 target Action plan
Total carbon footprint 37,675 tCO₂e 37,522 tCO₂e Achieve average 5% per year reduction improvements. Implement carbon tracking recommendations from our carbon inventory study.
Direct energy consumption by primary source (natural gas only) 6,190 tCO₂e 6,353 tCO₂e Achieve average 5% per year reduction improvements. Continue investment in branch energy retrofit program, and implement remote utility monitoring and control for increased energy savings.
Indirect energy consumption by primary source (electricity only) 19,765 tCO₂e 19,349 tCO₂e Continue with average 5% per year reduction improvements. Continue investment in branch energy retrofit program, and implement remote utility monitoring and control for increased energy savings.
Other indirect emissions sources: 11,734 tCO₂e 11,758 tCO₂e Decrease overall travel volumes and paper usage. Improve and optimize distance communication using technologies and applications available in business productivity suites.
Business travel (air) 397 tCO₂e 519 tCO₂e Decrease air travel volumes in favour of digital or lower impact options such as bus or ride share. Continue to encourage videoconferencing and other remote work strategies to reduce travel requirements for meetings.
Hotel 147 tCO₂e 195 tCO₂e Continue to encourage videoconferencing and other remote work strategies to reduce travel requirements for meetings.
Business travel (other) 1 1,729 tCO₂e 1,729 tCO₂e Business travel reporting has captured this under-reported carbon-emission source. Data tracking will allow for team consideration of lower carbon transportation options.
Employee commuting 1 8,978 tCO₂e 8,978 tCO₂e Work with People and Culture team to create an up to date data source for this information. Continue to support Workspace 2.0 (flex-work/work from home) strategies. Support bike-to-work initiatives by adding secure bike parking areas, lockers, and onsite showers.
Waste 349 tCO₂e 254 tCO₂e Re-implement education program and waste audits. Conduct formal waste audit of primary locations in Edmonton and Calgary over the next three years.
Paper usage 104 tCO₂e 83 tCO₂e Decrease amount of paper used. Continue to drive paperless solutions for staff and ATB statements and communications.
Meeting environmental standards in all new buildings and renovations Achieved Achieved All new locations follow environmental standards. Evolve and enhance environmental standards with changing branch design.
Land conserved through Ducks Unlimited partnership to date and resultant carbon capture (running total over
33 years)
FY2019 cumulative: FY2020 cumulative: Our 10-year target has already been achieved. Originally estimated 9,500 acres conserved over the 10 years of our partnership with Ducks Unlimited, now projected at over 10,000 acres.
8,605 acres conserved 9,547 acres conserved
138,000 tons of captured carbon 166,734 tons of captured carbon
(1) Improved data is available in 2019 for team member use of personal vehicles for business purposes and team member commuting. The 2018 data has been adjusted to establish a baseline for comparison in this and future reports.