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“More saving, more doing.”

We’ve all heard that Home Depot slogan before, and “more saving, more doing” is precisely the company’s culture when it comes to implementing sustainability practices throughout the business. By reducing energy, emissions and waste, the company can “save more” and, by enabling their associates through training and education, the company can “do more” too. The Home Depot Canada’s sustainability strategy focuses on three key pillars: operations, products, and associates.

Sustainable operations

The operations pillar targets the Home Depot Canada’s stores and distribution centres across the country. “We look at projects to reduce our energy consumption, projects to reduce our emissions, and projects that deal with waste,” says Jamieson Saab, one of two managers of environmental programs at The Home Depot Canada, adding that recycling is a huge component of the waste reduction practiced in stores.

Reducing energy at The Home Depot starts with light bulbs. “That’s a key focus for us,” says Saab. “Last year, we actually switched out 1,900 lamps across Canada.” As for cutting emissions in the distribution process, the Home Depot Canada implemented turnpike double trucks in BC. “It’s a tractor-trailer that pulls two trucks instead of one. In addition, those trucks consume liquid natural gas, a cleaner form of energy,” he says. “Turnpike doubles create approximately 45 per cent fewer emissions per shipment than a regular single-trailer truck.”

Sustainable products

Focusing on the products pillar, The Home Depot carries about 2,500 environmentally friendly products in its assortment. Called Eco-Options, Saab says the products “are better environmental alternatives—so products that conserve energy or water when you compare them to standard products.” With 84 per cent of consumers expressing their care for the environment and sustainability, bringing Eco-Options products to stores gives eco-conscious individuals the opportunity to choose from products that best represent their values.

“The products change regularly as we are constantly looking to add innovative new offerings for our customers,” says Saab. Eco-Options products are energy efficient, conserve water, improve indoor air quality, or come from sustainably managed forests.

Sustainable associates

Aside from managing environmentally preferable products and utility rebate campaigns, Saab and his colleagues also contribute to associate strategies. “My colleague Joanna Caners and I work with a lot of different parts of the business from marketing to supply chain to merchandising, to help them bring an environmental lens to what they are working on,” he says. “We help them understand how their decisions today will impact tomorrow. We work very closely with those groups to develop business cases for their projects that reduce energy, waste, water, and also measure those impacts from an environmental standpoint.”

The sustainability mandate

Why did The Home Depot go green? “It’s an opportunity for us to do things that are innovative and to reduce our impact on the environment,” answers Saab, “but in many cases, the sustainability projects that we implement also have a positive impact on our business.”

Sustainability has been linked to our corporate values since The Home Depot first went into business. “I’m sure you’ve been to a Home Depot and you’ve seen the orange aprons our associates wear” says Saab. “On every apron there is what’s called a value wheel. It’s a little circle we wear over our hearts.” Two of those values, he says, are “doing the right thing” and “entrepreneurial spirit,” which, in turn, embody our approach to sustainability.

Fun facts

  • In 2012, by promoting low-flow toilets, The Home Depot helped customers save water equivalent to 1,249 Olympic swimming pools.
  • The Home Depot sells 60,000 products, and about 2,500 have been Eco-Options verified.
  • In 2012, as a company The Home Depot recycled 23 million pounds of cardboard.
  • In 2013, the company won “Canada’s Greenest Employer Award” for the fifth consecutive year.