Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI) is the not-for-profit organization engaging and connecting businesses in Niagara in an effort to advance economic and environmental sustainability. We work to help businesses identify, understand and reduce their carbon footprint to become more sustainable both environmentally and economically. Through our efforts and programs, such as the Carbon Project, we’ve become the go-to source for organizations interested in tackling sustainability. We promote opportunities to develop a mindset for an environmentally and economically thriving Niagara and to integrate these values into all future planning as our community grows.
NSI represents the entire Niagara Region. Our office is located in downtown St. Catharines.
We started out as a group of young, environmentally passionate people who wanted to see our values reflected in a community-driven approach to organizational sustainability in Niagara. After seeing the success of Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Regional Carbon Initiative, we launched the Carbon Project in 2010. NSI is one of 8 social enterprises across Ontario convening networks of businesses setting sustainability targets with the help of Sustainability CoLab. Together we’re demonstrating that a more sustainable economy is possible.
NSI is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. We currently have four full time staff and a team of over 25 volunteers, ambassadors, and board members, all eager to see a more sustainable Niagara.
Each year, NSI expands its reach in Niagara by building partnerships with local organizations to measure their carbon footprint and identify reduction opportunities. Our network has now established itself as a homegrown sustainability movement. We’ve seen the values and knowledge promoted in the workplace spread into personal lives and communities. A new era of conscious workers, consumers, and community members has emerged.
As a not-for-profit organization, NSI is highly dependent on sponsorship and grants. Key grantors include: the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Eco Canada, and Sustainability CoLab. NSI also collects funds through event tickets and membership fees to offset operational expenses.
Impacts & Outcomes
Through the Carbon Project, NSI currently manages 117,510 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – equal to 22,538 passenger cars driven for one year. Of that total, our members have committed to reduce by 2,982 tonnes.
Raising awareness around climate change and the importance of reducing your carbon footprint has been challenging at times. We’ve also experienced challenges as an organization made up of young professionals, and constantly work to demonstrate our credibility as the “go-to source” for environmental knowledge in the community.
Be persistent! Behaviour change takes time.
Vision for the Future
Our vision is to reduce operations greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, increase local business profitability, and work towards the creation of a low carbon economy. We will promote this vision throughout Niagara as our community continues to grow.
Originally featured on Social Enterprise Niagara