Energy-efficient systems, recycling and more
We've been called Canada's greenest food bank!
As a non-profit organization, creating a sustainable future not only for our organization but for our clients' needs as well is highly important in today’s society. Through our Green Initiatives, Gleaners Food Bank is responding to the increasing demand for sustainable energy and contributing to a more secure and sustainable future. By continuing our efforts towards a greener environment, our organization is able to reduce costs and waste within our community. We also are helping future generations by providing a cleaner environment and are proud to be a front-runner in our sector for green initiatives.
Currently, Gleaners Food Bank has 12 Green Initiatives and we strive to continue to add to that list in our future endeavours. Highlights of the work done so far:
- We have removed older, inefficient lighting, HVAC components, inefficient equipment and systems through the help of the Veridian Energy Retrofit program.
- Through funding from the Royal Bank of Canada, we graciously accepted Energy Star® upgraded refrigeration and freezers.
- To top it off, we were selected as a pilot program for the Ice Bear Energy air conditioning system which significantly reduces our air conditioning costs during peak hours.
Although the upgraded energy efficient systems are a welcome addition to our facility, we also found that going green also includes adding green space to our industrial location. Our location in an industrial district proves difficult in providing our organization with green space outside.
From Parking Lot to Organic Garden
In 2009, Gleaners Food Bank turned what once was a graded parking lot into a fully sustainable organic garden. With substantial help from donors, volunteers, local businesses and schools, we turned our side lot into a garden with raised beds in order to produce our own fruits and vegetables to increase the nutritious values to our client’s hampers.
The organic garden uses a companion planting technique to decrease pest control, increase pollination, maximize space and increase productivity. With this system, our garden naturally increases the amount of produce we harvest each season.
In addition to our garden, we recently added 6 neighbourhood garden beds which the general public can utilize and harvest for their own needs, separate from the food bank services.
Using city water is not always a feasible option, given that we are trying to lower our organizational costs. Therefore, we have added a rain harvesting system that gleans the rain water from our rooftop and collects within the in house cistern. We use a solar panel pump to transport the water from our holding tank in order to water our gardens.
The solar panel pump was just the start of our increasing green initiatives. With assistance through the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the John M. & Bernice Parrott Foundation, we had replaced our roof to be fully insulated and installed 72 15kW solar panels. These solar panels allow us to produce energy and offset a significant portion of our monthly energy costs. The solar panel installation was considered the peak of Gleaner Food Banks' green facelift.
As Susanne Quinlan, our Director of Operations, stated in an article back in 2010, “Hunger has no season and solar energy is the future of Gleaner’s sustainability…We decided to pursue solar energy to create a healthy and sustainable environment for residents and families we serve…”