SP Emerging Professional Spotlight: Ariel Broca

Suppliers Partnership for the Environment’s Emerging Professionals Work Group (SP EP) members are working to cultivate their current work environments into sustainable and inclusive communities, adopting the mindset of ‘No action is too small’, while promoting sustainability in all business operations.

Our Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP) Emerging Professional spotlight series is intended to highlight the voices of individual emerging professionals within the SP community that are driving initiatives to promote sustainability within their companies, and beyond. This month, we are pleased to welcome SP member Ariel Broca with ERA Environmental Management Solutions in Montreal, Canada.

What inspired you to work on sustainability? What is your favorite part of your current role?

Growing up I was always passionate about the environment. My parents taught me from a young age about the importance of respecting the planet, and then during my studies I had some amazing teachers who inspired me to pursue environmental sciences as a career. I always wanted a career where I felt my knowledge could be put into valuable action.

My favorite part about my current role supporting corporate sustainability is the research and development aspect – I am always looking to learn something new and explore new ways of thinking. Discovering new ways of integrating sustainability into our business is always as exciting as it is rewarding. ERA Environmental Management Solutions has always been very supportive of new ideas and I get a lot of opportunity to improve our biodiversity and sustainability efforts. I also enjoy sharing our projects and experiences with other companies in the hopes that they too find success, which is why I appreciate the Emerging Professionals Group at the Suppliers Partnership. For me, it’s all about looking at the bigger picture and understanding that we’re all part of the same team. That feeling of working together to make a difference is really gratifying.

What is one sustainability project you have been involved in that you are most proud of or found the most interesting?

I consider myself lucky because I’ve gotten to be actively involved in a good number of sustainability and biodiversity projects over the past few years, but one I am happiest with was planning our switch from grass to a clover ground cover. The ERA campus has quite a large green space, and we felt this would make a big difference for the local environment as well as benefit the business.

Benefits of switching to a clover ground cover included lower maintenance requirements. Clover requires less water and less mowing, which meant a decrease in our water usage and reduced emissions from lawn maintenance activities. This translated into cost savings on water and on lawn care services.

Even more exciting though was that we saw a marked increase in campus biodiversity; we started attracting a lot more pollinators and native wildlife like Geese, Rabbits, Groundhogs, Bees, etc. We even started a company-wide game to see who could get the best photos of these new visitors and shared the pictures across the team.

Other top project contenders that I’d like to highlight include our composting program, adding bat houses, working with a local organization to add beehives, and training our staff on recycling in the workplace.

What is one of your favorite SP initiatives and what actions are you/your company taking in this area?

One of my favorite SP initiatives is the pollinator project, specifically related to the monarch butterflies. I got the opportunity to speak at one of the SP quarterly meetings and was thrilled to be speaking as part of the same session as many experienced pros in biodiversity, including hearing from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation who are tracking the migration of monarch butterflies as well as helping automotive manufacturers plan migration pathways of butterfly-friendly spaces across the continent.

What sustainability trends / innovations are you most excited about right now? What industry environmental sustainability initiatives are you most interested in exploring next?

I think what I’m most excited about is seeing the shift in sustainability towards quantifiable, concrete actions – you might call it sustainability data tracking. I really believe that this shift is needed for more businesses to take on sustainability more confidently.

If we can demonstrate that sustainability projects show measurable results and can prove it with scientific measurements that meet the realities of business management, then I believe we’ll see more projects getting pushed through. I also believe that understanding biodiversity as something that can be tracked and measured is the next step towards some significant wide-scale corporate breakthroughs.

What advice would you have for other emerging professionals seeking to promote sustainability initiatives within their company?

From my experience, the best advice I could give is to remember your target audience and understand the data they are most inspired by. Not everyone is passionate about sustainability, but if you can find a way to frame your ideas in a way that highlights the benefits that your decision makers care about, it will make it easier to get initiatives greenlit. And make sure you have the data or research to back up your claims! For example, when I started tracking ERA’s water usage, I noticed some unusual spikes in the water data. We later identified the spikes in water usage to be correlated with broken plumbing which was wasting significant amounts of water. This tracking scenario can be seen from a sustainability perspective (wasting water) or from a financial perspective (wasting money on utilities). Different decision makers will value different things, but there’s always multiple benefits to sustainability initiatives that can be taken into consideration.

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