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KPI: MEC Carbon Footprint

This measures total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from product transportation (excluding local deliveries from Vancouver vendors), facilities, business flights, employee commuting, and paper use in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (tCO2e). Our methodologies and data are reviewed by the Pembina Institute, a third-party not-for-profit organization specializing in alternative energy and climate policy and action in Canada.


Our vision is zero carbon emissions. Our 2012 target was to reduce GHG emissions by 20% from 2007 levels and to track corporate flight emissions. This is revised from a target we set in 2007 (reduce facilities GHG emissions by 20% and product transportation GHG emissions by 5% from 2007 levels), because we exceeded these targets in 2010.


In 2012, our GHG emissions from facilities, product transportation, employee commuting, and paper use were 5,468 tCO2e. This is 31% below 2007 levels, surpassing our reduction target by 11%. This is great news, considering our growth over the past five years. From 2007 levels, we reduced our facilities emissions by 52% and our product transportation emissions by 22%, which is an achievement we're celebrating.

Since we set our baseline in 2007, we added business flights (in 2009) and direct-to-member shipments from online orders (in 2012) to our scope. This brings our total GHG emissions in 2012 to 6,770 tCO2e. We don't factor these in when calculating our reductions, as they were not part of our scope in 2007, and we want to compare apples to apples.

Total GHG Emissions Summary (tCO2e)

2007 Baseline (tCO2e) 2010 Emissions (tCO2e) 2011 Emissions (tCO2e) 2012 Emissions (tCO2e) % of Total
Emissions (2012)
Facilities Scope 1, 2 1,197 633 645 572 9%
Product Transportation Scope 3 5,148 3,756 3,878 4,014 59%
Employee Commute Scope 3 620 790 790* 823 12%
Paper Scope 3 1,040 800 585 59 1%
Sub Total 8,005 5,979 5,898 5,468 81%
Business Flights Scope 3 920 985 904 13%
Direct-to-Member Shipments Scope 3 398 6%
Total 6,899 6,883 6,770 100%

*2010 data

We can truly say that the entire organization contributed to this outcome. For example:

  • Facilities emission reductions were primarily realized in 2010 due to energy management improvements in our Distribution Centre (DC) and the purchase of alternative electricity for all Ontario stores and our Halifax store in late 2009. The DC had been using unnecessary natural gas during warmer months because of an ineffective automated system. Recalibrating and manually overriding this system resulted in a 340 tCO2e reduction (one third of our total facilities GHG emissions in the previous year). Despite opening more stores, we've managed to decrease emissions in subsequent years. This is primarily due to energy efficient buildings and purchases of alternative energy.
  • We use alternative energy sources wherever possible. Our Halifax, Toronto, Burlington, Barrie, London, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary stores link to electricity grids with high carbon-intensity energy sources (primarily coal). In these areas, we purchase wind or hydro energy from Bullfrog Power. Our new North Vancouver store is also powered by alternative energy from Bullfrog. And we purchase alternative natural gas for our Toronto, London, and Halifax stores, which means they consume 100% green energy.
  • Product transportation results more than exceeded MEC's 5% reduction target from 2007 levels. This is because, instead of trucking, we continued to use multi-modal (primarily rail) transportation from our DC to eastern stores, and eliminated overseas air transportation where possible.
  • 2012 employee commute results show a strong bike and alternative transportation culture (over 80% of our staff reported taking alternative transportation!). Emissions increased because we have new stores and more staff.
  • After 40 years of MEC print catalogues, we printed our final edition in spring 2011. While some of our members weren't happy with this decision, it reduced our paper carbon footprint by a whopping 95% and saved more than 500 tCO2e!
  • We also began tracking broader categories of emissions, including corporate air travel, and we expanded the scope of the transport emissions we track.

Path Forward

We are proud of our reductions and plan to aim further. We acknowledge that we've picked most of the “low-hanging fruit” and that further reductions will be increasingly challenging to achieve, especially as we continue to grow as an organization. We haven't set a new 5-year reduction target yet, and will do so in 2013.

We've integrated key improvements in our internal approach to carbon management. Starting in 2013, we'll measure and report on our carbon emissions on a quarterly basis, so we can better manage our performance. We're also working on creating tools that allow us to better forecast our emissions, and consider carbon in our strategic decision-making process. Finally, we're integrating carbon as a business measure like sales or inventory turns.

Moving forward, we won't continue to measure our carbon emissions from paper. Our paper footprint has significantly decreased since the discontinuation of our print catalogue, and we feel it's more effective to focus our efforts on managing and measuring the areas where we have the biggest impact. That said, we'll continue to reduce our paper use where possible, and are exploring the feasibility of a (near) paperless office.