It may seem odd at first that the idea for an environmental organization was first developed by a couple of business and economics students. It makes a whole lot of sense, however, when you remember that SWR exists to help the local business community develop sustainable practices and make an environmental impact without damaging their bottom line. You might say that collaboration with local business is part of our DNA.
As you can imagine, these were not your average business students. The idea for SWR first came from research projects completed by Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) students Chris DePaul and Mike Morrice, the latter of whom is now the MP for Kitchener Centre and Ontario’s first-ever Green Party member of the federal legislature.
Guided by Dr. Barry Colbert (now the Board Chair of SWR) at WLU’s School of Business and Economics, Chris and Mike’s research explored the potential of creating a not-for-profit aimed at helping organizations in Waterloo Region achieve carbon reductions through collaboration and education.
In July 2008, SWR was incorporated with a vision for an environmentally and economically resilient community that believes economic growth should not come at the expense of green and sustainable practices. Just six months after our incorporation, the first SWR educational forum was held, with over 200 people in attendance.
Around this time, SWR launched the Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI), our flagship program designed to help local organizations enhance the sustainability of their operations through ambitious but attainable carbon emission reductions.
At the outset, two community working groups collaborated to develop a locally relevant carbon reduction framework, and a passionate team of staff and volunteers was formed to support the program.
Today, the program has evolved into the Impact Network (IN), a plan of action dedicated to supporting the local green economy by coaching companies in their efforts to reduce carbon, waste and water usage for the collective good.