Our Corporate Social Responsibility Commitments
Use resources responsibly
As a builder, owner and operator of renewable energy production facilities, Boralex is in charge of assets over their entire life cycle, enabling us to manage our resources optimally. We work hard to find the best ways to reduce waste production and optimize the use of resources (raw materials, water, energy), both in our projects and in our internal operations.
That said, our activities consume very few raw materials directly. Our resource use stems mainly from asset acquisition or construction and then dismantling once the assets reach the end of their lives. In these activities, we comply with all local environmental requirements and ensure that we minimize any negative impacts, in cooperation with our host communities and territories.
A dismantling plan for assets set to be replaced in the works for 2022
A dismantling plan for assets set to be replaced has been in the works since late 2021, in preparation for the dismantling of 18 turbines in 2022. The plan focuses on the reuse of raw materials and recycling of used materials, in line with circular economy principles. We are exploring several options:
- Sale on the second-hand market, with a say in how the turbines are used, as was the case for a dozen wind turbines we dismantled in France, which are now in operation on a site with less harsh weather conditions in Spain;
- Refurbishment, which involves a crucial step of identifying critical spare parts for each turbine model to be sure to have them in stock;
- Blade recycling, including shredding for other uses.
Respect and protect biodiversity
Starting at the design phase of our projects, we are extremely vigilant about applying regulatory procedures and adhering to the “avoid-reduce-compensate” principle, also known as the ARC sequence. Thus, we systematically address biodiversity concerns in the impact studies for all the projects we carry out, in order to avoid, to the greatest extent possible, any impact on the environment.
At our hydroelectric power stations, we aim to reduce the impact of our activities on species living in the affected waterways. For example, in Rimouski, 25 years ago we committed to assuming the costs of protecting the Atlantic salmon run upstream from the dam in order to increase the species’ reproduction area. Thus, while the annual run was about 200 salmon 25 years ago, for the last two years it has been around 800 salmon, whereas overall salmon populations in Quebec rivers are declining.
Adapt to climate change
In business, we manage risks and budgets on a daily basis. In recent years, and particularly in recent months, it has become clear that the biggest risk facing humanity is climate change, which is occurring faster and is more far-reaching and critical than we care to admit. We are already feeling its effects.
Impact of climate-related risks and opportunities on our business, strategy and financial planning
Climate change is at the core of our purpose: “On our planet where electricity is central to fighting climate change, we have a responsibility to produce it sustainably for future generations.” Given what we do, the energy transition and the desire to stay within a 1.5 °C warming scenario mostly means opportunities for Boralex. We have therefore decided to aim for geographic and technological diversification of our sources of energy production to reduce our overall vulnerability to climate events.
Targets used to manage climate-related risks and opportunities and performance against targets
To date, we have defined targets for the tons of CO2 avoided through our renewable energy production, aligned with the growth ambitions in our strategic plan. We ended 2021 with 352,666 tons of CO2 avoided, 24% more than in 2020. Our target for 2025 is 781,773 tons of CO2 avoided.
What are Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions?
The definition of GHG emissions is derived from the GHG Protocol Initiative, a multi-stakeholder partnership of businesses, non-governmental organizations, governments and others convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The initiative was launched in 1998 with the mission to develop internationally accepted GHG accounting and reporting standards. In that context, it has defined three categories of emissions that make up a company’s carbon footprint:
- Scope 1 emissions are greenhouse gases that the Corporation generates directly at its facilities, including through its vehicle fleet.
- Scope 2 emissions are the indirect emissions related to the electricity, heating, cooling and steam consumed by the Corporation through its facilities and vehicle fleet.
- Scope 3 emissions are all other indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the Corporation, including both upstream and downstream emissions.
This exercise has given us a sense of the effort we will need to invest in the coming months and guides our ongoing work on obtaining a more accurate picture of our supply chain. It also allows us to identify initiatives that we can continue to encourage among our employees, particularly with regard to our procurement decisions and employee travel.
Foster inclusion, diversity and equal opportunities
Inclusion, diversity and equal opportunity are not only essential components of a thriving workplace, but they also bring different points of view, thereby stimulating innovation within the team and the performance of the organization as a whole. We are committed to equal opportunity in recruitment, training, compensation, assignments and career development. To achieve this, and to combat stereotypes, we base our decisions on objective criteria such as the skills, experience and professional qualifications of our candidates and employees. And we strive to stay true to those values, day in and day out.
Our commitments under the Equal by 30 campaign
- Boralex commits to encouraging women to enter traditionally male fields in order to increase their representation in renewable energy. Consequently, Boralex will facilitate the recruitment and retention of women within its organization by ensuring that it offers healthy, adequate and suitable working conditions and environments.
- Boralex commits to filling open positions (replacement and job creation) by hiring women for 35% of those positions.
- Boralex commits to creating and nurturing an inclusive workplace where women are welcomed and can be themselves, so that they can develop and grow professionally and personally while contributing to Boralex’s success.
Take action on occupational health and safety
The activities involved in building, operating and maintaining energy production facilities put Boralex employees at risk. We therefore assign great importance to the safety of our employees and the protection of their physical and psychological health in our workplaces around the world, and take care to implement the appropriate preventive measures (information, training), management processes and corrective action. It is of course understood that our occupational health and safety (OHS) practises comply with the laws and regulations of the countries where we operate.
Examples of measures in place at Boralex to promote physical and mental health
Consult and engage communities and territories
Regardless of the type of project or where it is located, though, our philosophy remains the same: we arrive as guests in the territory concerned, and we stay as neighbours. Thus, we place great emphasis on dialogue and cooperation with our local stakeholders, as of the start of new project development and on a regular basis during construction and operation.
To establish good relations, it is important to consult the communities and territories well before project development begins, and then to listen, be open to their comments and suggestions and address their concerns and needs, in order to foster the acceptance of our facilities.
Partnership with Indigenous communities
In Canada, we work with Indigenous communities, in some cases entering into joint venture partnerships with them. In 2021, we entered into one such joint venture for the Apuiat wind farm, to be built on the traditional territory (Nitassinan) of the Uashat mak Mani-utenam First Nation, on public lands in the town of Port-Cartier and on the Lac-Walker unorganized territory, in the Côte-Nord region of Quebec. This project is aligned with Innu values related to protecting plants and animals and preserving traditional practises (innu-aitun). Apuiat will be the first wind farm on Quebec’s Côte-Nord and will provide the region with a long-term source of clean energy, in addition to generating considerable economic benefits for local Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
Partnership with municipalities
We would be unable to build and operate our renewable energy production sites without the support of municipalities. It is therefore essential for us to secure their approval before we even start to develop our projects, to ensure that we maximize our social acceptability and are welcomed as a respectful and respected neighbour.
In addition to the consultations and dialogue we undertake at the initial stages of our projects, we make use of tools that can sometimes facilitate project acceptance, such as crowdinvesting, crowdfunding, “green electricity”, and co-construction.
As an example of our commitment, in 2021, Boralex created a position in France dedicated to the large-scale roll-out of crowdinvesting. The role involves implementing projects that are participatory both in terms of equity investment and the energy or electricity to be developed in our territories.
Life-changing donations and sponsorship
As a member of communities and territories, Boralex also contributes to the vibrancy and economic vitality of the regions where it operates. It does this in a variety of ways, including by funding local activities and events, partnering with local organizations and institutions and, in France, offering green electricity to residents near our wind and solar farms.
Our philanthropic activities are guided by our donations and sponsorships policy, which was updated in 2021 to fully align with our CSR strategy while contributing to the fulfilment of our strategic plan objectives. The policy focuses on the following areas, in line with our strategic plan and our CSR strategy:
- The vibrancy and vitality of communities and territories in the countries where we operate;
- Education, by supporting the next generation and promising initiatives, particularly those that foster diversity and inclusion;
- Environmental protection, particularly initiatives that support the energy transition;
- Employee involvement in the community.
Beyond Renewables Fund: Supporting STEM education in host communities
Boralex is committed to being a good neighbour and valued member of our host communities. To ensure our projects have a positive impact, we have created the Beyond Renewables Fund, designed to create opportunities and long-term benefits for underserved areas, underrepresented populations and our host communities.
Training on Indigenous cultures in Canada
In the light of our joint ventures with First Nations, we have undertaken to enhance our employees’ understanding of Indigenous cultures. In October 2021, we introduced training on Indigenous cultures in Canada. Mandatory for all our Canadian employees – current and future – including senior management, the course is presented in collaboration with the First Nations University of Canada and uses “4 Seasons of Reconciliation”, an educational tool aimed at promoting “a renewed relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Settlers”.
It enables participants to deepen their knowledge of Indigenous cultures and improve their understanding of the realities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. All members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors have completed this training, and the overall course completion rate for our employees is 93% and 96% for our Canadian employees.
Strengthen responsible corporate governance
Corporate governance is a fundamental pillar of a CSR strategy. Strong governance strengthens coherence between the broad directions adopted at the top and the decisions and actions taken on the ground. In this instance, it is about ensuring that all our employees take social and environmental impacts into account every day to ensure that Boralex’s growth is sustainable. In doing so, governance allows us to improve financial performance and achieve our strategic targets while having a positive impact on society.
2021 achievements in the Board of Directors
Amendment of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee’s mandate to include oversight of the CSR strategy progress.
Update of the Board diversity policy to add a target of at least 30% for women’s representation.
Practise ethics in business and behavior
For Boralex, ethics are essential in business. We have a code of ethics, and we have provided related training for our employees, directors and officers, as well as selected consultants. The code serves as a set of guiding principles for employees to behave in an exemplary manner in all aspects of the performance of their duties. In addition to promoting a thriving workplace, the code helps us enhance and maintain our reputation and comply with legislative requirements.
Promote sustainability in our procurement decisions
Our relationship with our suppliers is not just a key element in the success of Boralex’s projects, it is an essential factor in the achievement of our CSR objectives. For our activities to be aligned with our values, we must ensure that we work with suppliers who share our commitments regarding ethics, health, safety and the environment. Truly sustainable procurement requires significant effort. We are committed to this approach and are pursuing our efforts to fully integrate sustainability considerations into our procurement practises.
The principles of our sustainable procurement charter
We naturally expect our suppliers to comply fully with the regulations and laws in force in their respective countries and to align their practises with international labour standards. We also ask them to ensure that all their manufactured products are traceable, and to commit to: