TD Bank Group

TD Bank Group has sourced renewable electricity equivalent to 100% of its global operations since 2015. Here, Karen Clarke-Whistler, Chief Environment Officer explains why the company has chosen to be a leader.

Why did TD Bank Group decide to go ‘100% renewable’?

“In 2008 TD made a decision to lead on the environment and to be carbon neutral, something we achieved in 2010. Sourcing renewable energy equivalent to 100% of the electricity we use is the next step in our carbon neutral journey. 

“We take a three step approach to carbon neutrality: one – we reduce our carbon footprint; two – green our energy supply both by generating renewable energy and by purchasing renewable energy credits or ‘RECs’; and three – mitigate the carbon emissions we do produce through innovative carbon offsets.”

How did you decide on your 100% goal?

“TD's senior leadership team strongly supports the bank's environment strategy and our commitment to carbon neutrality, along with our three-step approach to getting there.  Senior leadership, in fact, championed carbon neutrality as our core high-profile environmental initiative in order to raise employee awareness of the environment and our commitment to environmental leadership.

“Sourcing RECs equivalent to 100% of the electricity we use aligned with our approach and was the logical next step.”

How have you reached your 100% goal?

“Thanks to the development of the REC market we are now able to purchase high quality cost-effective RECs across our expansive geographic footprint, which is a priority for us. Our operations are largely North American based – across Canada and the eastern United States -- so we have focused on investing in RECs that provide renewable energy to these areas. We do, however, have a small presence in Europe and are looking into the opportunity to invest in European-based RECs for next year.”

What challenges and opportunities have you been experiencing?

“Certainly there's a cost to going ‘100% renewable’ – we put an internal price on carbon, which helps fund the purchase of RECs and carbon offsets. And sourcing the right RECs for us was a challenge initially, but as the market for RECs evolved, that challenge lessened.

“We are investigating power purchase agreements but need to consider if they are the right way to go in our highly decentralized network – currently we work to provide renewable energy to the areas where we operate, which may not be feasible with a power purchase agreement. We will continue to consider the best options for meeting our needs as the renewable energy landscape continues to evolve.

“But the fact is the benefits of being carbon neutral and investing in the low carbon economy far outweigh the challenges.  Being carbon neutral – including purchasing RECs to the equivalent of the electricity we use – is an investment in our business, one with very real returns.  It has transformed the way we operate and is a driver of innovation.

“It is also something that has a positive impact on the lives of our employees, customers and the communities where we operate. That's very important to us.  And the more involved we are in the renewable energy field, the more we learn, and that's helpful to our clients, whether they're working to reduce their own carbon footprint or are involved the renewable energy sector.” 

Why is it important that companies help increase demand for renewable electricity?

“While government policy and regulations can create the foundation for action, every community, business and individual has a role to play if we are to successfully transition to the low carbon economy.  The business community has the ability – and some would say the responsibility – to influence the speed of this transition.”

Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to join?

“As key drivers of economic growth, large corporations have a major role to play in building the low carbon economy. By acting together, sharing information and learning from one another, RE100 member companies have an opportunity to make much bigger impact than they would otherwise.  Collaboration is key, and we look forward to sharing with and learning from others.”

What else is TD doing to help develop a low carbon economy?

“We strive to be a leader in building the low carbon economy, and the impact of our commitment to environmental leadership and carbon neutrality can be seen across the bank.

“Our carbon offsets have a focus on those with social value, such as making public buildings more energy efficient and working with a First Nations community to develop a carbon forest, which provides jobs and educational opportunities.

"Our focus on carbon reduction has led to new products and services such as lending for small scale renewables, and insurance for hybrid and electric vehicles. And we have issued a green bond, the proceeds of which support the development of low carbon energy infrastructure and buildings; a green building strategy that has seen us introduce a net zero energy branch and install solar panels at 124 sites. This is largely responsible for the fact that despite a 26% growth in our occupied space, TD's total greenhouse gas emissions from energy have decreased by 20% since 2008. 

“We also work to build understanding of the low carbon economy and renewable energy in myriad ways, from internal and external communications such as social media, websites, newsletters and in the media to providing thought leadership, such as through TD Economics papers like the The Greening of the Canadian Economy, The Market Benefits of Green Condos in Toronto and Valuing the World Around Us: An Introduction to Natural Capital.

Last updated: June 2016