Thinking, Acting and Going Green at Vena
Green is the color of our logo, but we like to think that it is also becoming the color of our business. Thinking green comes naturally to many of us here at Vena. In fact, Vena’s workplace environment offers many opportunities for our employees to think, act and go green at work every day. Greg Jones, Director of Facilities at Vena, is passionate about implementing green initiatives at Vena. “We’re always looking for ways to take corrective action and to drive collective action throughout our organization,” he says. “Being aware of our environmental responsibility—individually and together—requires us to re-imagine how we run our business and to inspire our employees, customers, partners and communities to consider green-based alternatives and opportunities for growth.” So what are some of the ways we’re going green at Vena? From tracking our carbon emissions and making strides to reduce them, to embracing more natural light, opting for environmentally friendly office products, buying locally, recycling materials and more, let’s explore some of our ongoing initiatives and efforts that are making our workplace space more eco-friendly, efficient and healthier. Our Biophilic Design and Environment We take the well-being of our employees seriously at Vena and that’s why we’re constantly striving to create a workplace environment where they feel comfortable, safe and encouraged to work, concentrate, collaborate and recharge effectively. One of the ways we’re doing this is by bringing the outdoors indoors and implementing more biophilic elements in our design and work environments. Many of our meeting, workplace and quiet spaces have been designed specifically with the purpose of creating more access to natural light and views of the outdoors. Wherever we can, we have incorporated natural materials and colors, views of nature and other experiences of the natural world into our modern work environment. Plants in search of office homes at Vena Our Forest Plot room, for example, is a quiet room meant for reflection, self-care, revitalization and most importantly, no work. “We’re experimenting with using different scents and sounds, adding a forest mural and having an array of plants available in the space,” says Greg. Some employees use this room for meditation, relaxation, prayer, yoga, lactation or personal calls. Vena’s Forest Plot room Whenever we can and weather permitting, we often encourage our employees to go outdoors and use our rooftop space—Vena’s Sky Deck—for work, meetings, breaks or new this year, to take part in planting, maintaining or enjoying our communal garden. Plans are in the works to include five planter boxes on the deck to plant flowers and to harvest vegetables and herbs for Venanites to enjoy (in the office and to take home) as well as to distribute to local food banks and soup kitchens. Vena’s Sky Deck And let’s not forget our furry friends. We have bird and squirrel feeders situated around the perimeter of our building and have our own resident squirrel we’ve named “Venny.” Venny the Squirrel Reduce, Recycle, Reuse We’re always looking for ways to reduce landfill waste and to amp up our recycling efforts at Vena. Aside from situating recycling centers in prominent locations in our office, encouraging our staff to go paperless, reusing packing materials and boxes, opting for more recyclable and biodegradable office supplies and reducing food waste, below are some other ways Venanites are employing the 3 Rs of waste management at work. Electronics Recycling Drive From time to time, we have collections for large e-waste items and encourage our employees to bring in their unwanted monitors, desktops and any other large computer or electronic equipment. For Earth Week this year, we worked with our landlord who contracted ADL Process Electronic Recycling to provide us with onsite bins for these items. ADL determines which of the working components can be reused to build working computers for donation and then recycle the balance of the material at certified recycling centers. Batteries Ever wonder what to do with batteries? Regular alkaline, manganese and carbon-zinc batteries are not hazardous and can be disposed of in ordinary trash. But other single-use or rechargeable batteries are not. At Vena, we tell our employees to bring in all of their batteries and we’ll take care of the rest. It’s another item we’re happy to divert from landfills. Foil Packaging Another item we try to divert from landfills is foil packaging. Whether employees use foil packaging in our office or in their homes, we have special recycling bins for it at Vena and encourage everyone to bring in their packaging from home. Foil packaging bins at Vena Segregating Paper Towel Waste Paper towels are one of those surprise items you can compost in your green bin. Yes, even the paper towels employees use to clean up food or drink stains. To ensure our employees are disposing of paper towels properly, we also have green compost bins available in our washrooms for paper towels only. Donating Items to Employees, Charities or Not-for-Profit Organizations We often offer office furniture, supplies or items to employees before donating them to charities and not-for-profits, but sometimes these two align. For instance, we donated reams of paper to a not-for-profit youth organization, The Royal Canadian Air Cadets, where one of our employees does volunteer work. We were delighted to donate over 30 reams (15,000 sheets) to our employee and her Squadron. The organization used it to print online applications for new registrations along with many other needs. Upcycling Before recycling anything, our aim is to always reuse it, whether that's by us, our employees or through donations. One of the fun ways we’ve taken recycling to a whole new level is by upcycling used plastic gift cards into guitar picks for Venanites and their families. Upcycling plastic gift cards into guitar picks Supporting Green Vendors Ashton Mugabe, Facilities Project Manager at Vena, is always looking into vendors to learn more about their sustainability efforts to see if their vision aligns with ours in terms of environmental impact. One area of particular interest is working with companies that are mitigating the use of fossil fuels. Reducing Fossil Fuel Use One such partnership we formed is with a local shredding company, Carbon Neutral Shredding. The company performs all shredding, trucking, heating and power generation processes in a carbon-neutral manner. All of their processes rely on the use of waste vegetable oil (WVO). No oil that might otherwise be used for human consumption is burned. What does Carbon Neutral mean? Sun-Powered Shredding bins at Vena Coffee Cup Recycling Trial We are also working with Carbon Neutral Shredding to trial their innovative coffee cup recycling program, StackitNow. Cups are shredded and co-mingled with confidential office waste. The result is a satisfactory product that paper mills have no difficulty recycling into tissue products. All Venanites have to do when recycling their coffee cups is remove the plastic lids and stack their used and rinsed paper cups without food or other garbage. Coffee cup stacker at Vena Buy Fresh, Buy Local One of the ways we can encourage our employees to make better choices and empower them to take better care of themselves while at work includes offering them a healthy selection of foods and drinks. The mandate for our food program at Vena is to buy fresh, to buy local and to buy from people who are passionate about making food in our community. We offer a variety of alternative foods, provide all-natural pump additives to flavor water and cater to different dietary requirements such as vegan, celiac, low carb, dairy free and halal. Get Involved Thinking, acting and going green at Vena also means going outside of our workplace and realizing that a sustainable future also involves supporting environmental and social initiatives within our communities. Some examples include helping out wildlife and protecting public lands. Employees who choose to do so can use their paid volunteer day to lend a hand. We’ve held company-wide walking challenges to get our employees to spend time outdoors and have made donations to organizations such as WWF-Canada. Making Green Thinking and Doing an Everyday Part of Vena’s Company Culture Encouraging environmentally conscious practices at Vena helps our employees feel healthier, happier and more driven to thrive at work and in their personal lives as they extend these practices into their own homes. We are committed to including our employees in our green vision, asking them for their input and encouraging them to get engaged and involved. This has led to the formation of our Green Team, a group of dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to promote sustainable and environmentally responsible habits at Vena and beyond. Their efforts have led to making more eco-friendly choices within our office and encouraging employees to make more sustainable lifestyle choices at home. Their ongoing dialogue, awareness campaigns, challenges and sharing of resources and tips are showing us how small steps really do make big changes. Did you know? Vena was named one of Canada’s 2022 Top Small and Medium Employers? And last year, Vena won Comparably Awards for Best Company Culture, Best Company for Diversity, Best Company for Women, Best CEO and more. For the full list of Comparably awards Vena won in 2021, click here. Come Grow With Us Vena is hiring. We are a hybrid remote-office workplace with offices in Toronto, Canada and London, United Kingdom. Visit our newly launched Careers site for current job openings and to learn more about life at Vena.