Sustainability: How ACU is turning words into action

At ACU, our vision is driven by the desire for a world where innovative financial services in local communities contribute to a sustainable future for all.

Up close photo of hands holding a miniature green planet earth. Various symbols of sustainability float over the photo

Sustainability is built into ACU’s values and mission as a socially responsible cooperative and has contributed to ACU achieving B CorpTM status.

But it’s really about turning words into action.

Dennis Cunningham, ACU

“When attaining a B Corp certification, environmental performance is a major component of how we score in the certification process,” says Dennis Cunningham, Manager of Environmental Sustainability at ACU. “We must undertake specific, thoughtful actions to ensure we meet the certification’s high standard of impact for sustainability goals.”

Learn more about ACU’s commitment to positively impacting our customers, communities and planet.

Achieving B Corp status means meeting stringent criteria in five areas: Community, Customers, Environment, Governance and Workers.

“We acknowledge that there’s going to be environmental impacts in our business, yet we can influence or reduce those impacts through environmental management,” Dennis adds.

Targeted goals for a greener planet

ACU has longstanding sustainability efforts focused on composting, paper reduction, waste diversion and reducing overall energy consumption. “By understanding our goals, we can design programs and initiatives to reduce environmental impacts,” says Dennis.

ACU has e-waste recycling and composting partnerships with Mother Earth Recycling and Compost Winnipeg. In addition to providing early grants, ACU participated in Compost Winnipeg’s workplace compost collection pilot project a decade ago.

In 2023, ACU increased the reach of its program, composting close to 3,000 kilograms of waste. “That’s a pretty big increase from other years,” explains Dennis.

In ACU’s employee commuting survey, 58% of employees said they were “green” and “active” commuters.

“Those are the highest numbers we’ve seen yet,” according to Dennis. Compare that to 2010, when 63% of employees indicated they were drive-alone commuters.

A new partnership with Peg City

ACU is currently piloting a corporate membership program with Peg City Car Co-op that allows employees to commute to work via the carshare program, with access to parking locations near ACU branches and head office.

“About 60 employees indicated they would be willing to leave their personal car at home at least a few days a week if they had access to a carshare vehicle, so we’re slowly ramping that program up,” Dennis explains.

Photo of an EV charging a car

But the partnership doesn’t stop there. ACU is also subsidizing the installation of electric vehicle (EV) chargers at two housing co-ops, both of which are members of ACU.

“It opens the doors for Peg City to start moving their fleet to electric vehicles,” says Dennis. “And because the EV chargers will be located where a lot of residents are Peg City members , we know they’ll get a lot of use.”

The program will yield helpful information about EV usage in Winnipeg—for Peg City, for carshare members, for housing co-op members and even for the City of Winnipeg.

Making sustainability at ACU a reality

ACU has also switched to a new greenhouse gas management service, called Carbon Hound. This service provides energy consumption and paper usage data at ACU branches and even includes features to boost employee engagement.

In addition, ACU has joined the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials, a global initiative that measures emissions related to financial services, including mortgages, vehicle loans and commercial lending.

“We do that to better understand the impact of our business decisions,” says Dennis. “Measuring emissions helps us design new products with a lower environmental impact.”

A new procurement policy introduced last year will further incorporate environmental and social considerations into ACU’s purchasing decisions. Among other things, ACU will consider whether potential suppliers track their greenhouse gas emissions and pay their employees a “living wage” not just minimum.

Kevin Sitka, President & CEO Assiniboine Credit Union

“Assiniboine Credit Union is committed to the wellbeing and resilience of our members, employees, communities, and the environment. One important way we ensure the financial health of employees is by paying a Living Wage to help make ends meet at home. ACU is also expanding Living Wage requirements to companies who do work for ACU like cleaning our buildings. This is how we create good jobs in our communities and support the financial health of those who work for ACU and our local economy. Paying a living wage to employees is simply good business practice. Assiniboine Credit Union is proud to be a living wage employer.” — Kevin Sitka, President & CEO Assiniboine Credit Union

“We used to do that informally, but this procurement policy now allows us to clearly articulate a formal policy to potential suppliers clearly,” Dennis elaborates.

Smiling team members from ACU and Trees Winnipeg posing in front a newly planted tree

And ACU’s relationship with Trees Winnipeg is continuing for a third year. In each of 2022 and 2023, ACU donated $20,000 to Trees Winnipeg as part of a new member campaign. The organization used the funds to purchase and plant trees in areas of need across Winnipeg, in addition to supporting its inner-city school tree-planting program.

All of these initiatives help ACU reduce its environmental impacts, while making the city a more sustainable place to live. Dennis says that’s a win-win for ACU and its members.

“When you reduce environmental impacts, you also find cost savings related to process efficiencies. They go hand-in-hand. So that makes the member experience better as well.”

Learn more about ACU’s commitment to positively impacting our customers, communities and planet.

Read ACU's annual impact report

Find out more about ACU’s B Corp results and sustainability initiatives here.

About Dennis Cunningham

Dennis is Assiniboine Credit Union’s Manager of Environmental Sustainability. He helps employees and members to reduce ACU’s environmental footprint.

View all posts ›

Up Next

Smiling Asian woman holding a little girl

Celebrate Asian Heritage Month in Winnipeg

May is Asian Heritage Month, celebrate in Winnipeg. Check out the Taste of Asia (May 25 and 26), a free admission event at The Forks featuring food trucks, music, art,…

Read more ›

RRSP vs. TFSA vs. FHSA: Breaking down the options for buying your first home

Many ACU members are familiar with their options when saving for a down payment. Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) offer shelter from taxes on growth, while a Registered Retirement Savings…

Read more ›

10 steps to buying your first home

Buying a new home in Winnipeg can be an exciting time. After all, you can finally move into a place to call your own—whether you’re leaving that long-term rental property,…

Read more ›