by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Connexus : Issue 37
www.abacus.org.au 43 Connexus was the Victoria Day Council's Victorian Good Corporate Citizen of the Year. The credit union, which aspires to become the pre-eminent socially responsible banking brand in Australia, also uses its products and services to encourage members to take a sustainable approach to living their own lives. Dowland, who has trained with Al Gore's Climate Project, says mecu achieved carbon neutrality through carbon reduction and offsets at the end of 2010-11. It was the first credit union in Australia to do so. "We've taken an integrated approach through the whole business," he says. "Our board has a sustainable development standing committee and sustainable development performance outcomes are built into all management job descriptions and contracts." Other mutuals on the same path can take heart from the mecu experience. "Our approach to responsible banking and sustainable development has actually improved the bottom line," says Dowland. BUYING CARBON OFFSETS At BDCU, efforts are well underway to make the business carbon neutral. The credit union, based in Bowral, New South Wales, first made logical changes -- cutting energy use in its outlets and introducing recycling and supportive purchasing policies. Then it began buying carbon offsets in a Western Australian methane gas project which is helping local government improve waste management and reduce reliance on landfill. A BDCU emissions report in 2007 revealed that heating and cooling accounted for about a quarter of its energy consumption, says marketing communications manager Ross Stone. Since then, airconditioning time switches have been installed and some vents repositioned to increase efficiency. Sector giant CUA recently announced the appointment of Michael Roberts as its first sustainability manager. He's a former OECD deputy ambassador who describes corporate sustainability as the deliberate inclusion of public interest issues into decision-making "so business decisions are not based solely on profit but also on people and the planet". Summerland Credit Union, on the NSW north coast and Queensland's Gold Coast, has adopted the Sustainability Advantage Program developed by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, and appointed an environmental champion to work with stakeholders and staff. Leave policy has been adjusted to allow for community service with environmental organisations and a staff sustainability survey was conducted last year to help engage employees in the mutual's environmental goals. Victoria Teachers Credit Union supports sustainability projects in schools and pre-schools through its Teaching Initiatives Program and sponsors a number of conservation programs. Dowland hopes good environmental practice in the mutual sector will encourage other Australian businesses to take sustainability more seriously. He believes all Australians need to be more aware of the progress other nations are making in adopting renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. "The argument here about whether we need to do anything about climate change is already over in many countries," he says. "They are winning the race and we are still at the starting block, tying up our laces." -- Carolyn Rance is a freelance writer. Go green Start by having a qualified environmental consultant thoroughly assess your current carbon footprint. Knowing your starting point can be a powerful impetus for change and allow you to measure progress. • Get staff on side. Appoint volunteers as environmental champions so someone is always making sure good ideas are acted upon and environmental initiatives are encouraged and maintained. • Sweat the small stuff. Abolish throwaway coffee cups, install recycling bins, encourage double- sided printing, re-use waste paper, and turn off appliances and lights when not in use. • Make sure purchasing policies reflect environmental objectives. When buying new equipment, check its energy use. Replace high-energy light bulbs and tubes. • Understand offsets. If you can't make your operations fully carbon neutral, you can offset emissions by supporting a project to increase renewable energy, better manage waste or undertake reforestation. "Our approach to responsible banking and sustainable development has actually improved the bottom line."