Our Success Stories
EARTH 1st - 10th Anniversary

In 2013, Walker Industries celebrated the 10th Anniversary of EARTH 1st. Without the passion and commitment of every employee at Walker Industries, EARTH 1st would not have grown to be the success it is today.

Employees were encouraged to commit, create and participate in a company-wide challenge throughout 2013.  The level of enthusiasm went above and beyond to make the 10th Anniversary an event to remember.  Walker Environmental Group (WEG) was awarded $10,000 to donate to an environmental cause of their choice by having the highest level of participation throughout the challenge. WEG chose to donate to Evergreen Canada.

Evergreen Canada is a nation-wide non-profit organization that strives to enact positive change and restore the natural health of the communities in which we live. Its head office is located in Toronto and is situated at the old Don Valley Brick works site and quarry. The brick-making factory was abandoned in 1984, and in 1991 Evergreen rehabbed the site by starting a tree-planting initiative and eventually turned the site into an environmental centre that is now called the Evergreen Brick Works.

Evergreen Canada has four main areas of focus that positively effects the environment and community:

  • Greenspace (Garden groups, public planting events, nature monitoring, etc)
  • Food (Farmers’ market, community supported agriculture, cooking workshops, etc)
  • Children (summer nature camps, nature workshops, school programs, etc)
  • CityWorks (smart city building, improve urban transportation, adopt sustainable urban development, etc.)


Check out our EARTH 1st 10th Anniversary Challenge site for videos, helpful tips and ideas on how you can help support the environment.





Walker Emulsions Eliminates Formaldehyde

In 2009, Walker Emulsions completely eliminated the use of formaldehyde from its was emulsion products. Formaldehyde was used as a biocide and odour control in emulsions used by the fiberglass and fibreboard manufacturing industry. The elimination of formaldehyde was an innovation that has made our workplace safer as well as supporting the green initiatives of our customers.

In 2011, Walker Emulsions was Recognized for Environmental Achievement by the Minister of the Environment for the elimination of formaldehyde.





Get the Static Out Contest
In 2007, we challenged our employees to “get the static out” by reducing their home electricity consumption. Our top three winners all achieved over 50% reduction in electricity use from their base year and they did it with simple steps that we can all take, such as replacing old appliances, adding timers, line drying clothes and upgrading insulation. Over $6,000 in prize money was shared by our 4 winners.

Walker Industries was honoured with a “Certificate of Recognition” from the Conservation Bureau of the Ontario Power Authority. The certificate congratulated us for conducting “a contest encouraging employees to conserve energy at home, contributing to building a culture of conservation in Ontario.”



Walker Aggregates Inc. Vineland Quarry Transforming to Edgerock Vineyard
John Walker had a vision of a different and innovative rehabilitation plan for the mined-out Vineland Quarry. Niagara Region’s successful viticulture industry gave him the idea of forming a partnership between Walker Aggregates Inc. and the University of Guelph to study the viability of transforming the quarry lands into a vineyard. By the summer of 2000, we had planted 10 acres on slopes carefully graded to support the vines.

Today, the Vineland Quarry has about 28 acres of high-quality vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The quarry provides the only south facing slope in the Niagara Region, creating a micro climate that supports varieties of grapes that would be a challenge to grow elsewhere in the province.The Niagara Escarpment Commission recognized Walker Aggregates Inc. innovative and successful rehabilitation project with the presentation of their Achievement Award in 2002.



"A-line" with Nature
For Earth Day 2008, we gave out clothes lines to encourage our employees to reduce their use of the dryer and use nature to dry their clothes. We challenged employees to consider how they could better align with nature.



10 Mile Creek Trail
The 10 Mile Creek Trail meanders through a fully reconstructed ecosystem along the re-aligned 10 Mile Creek. To quarry out the southern extent of the Walker Brothers Quarry, it was necessary to create a new channel for the creek, designed to gently wind through a 90 m floodplain. We completed the second and final phase of the project in 2004. The trail was built to invite the community to experience the beauty of this little engineered gem. Along the new creek channel, we constructed ponds to encourage the establishment of wetland species suitable for amphibian habitat. We’ve also planted native plants along the creek to develop terrestrial habitat.

It’s amazing to see how, with a little bit of encouragement, nature flourishes. Frogs, deer, coyote, blue heron and a host of other creatures have been seen in the creek valley.



Creating Sustainable Emulsions
In 2008 Walker Emulsions introduced bio-based emulsions. Our research team developed a soya/vegetable oil based emulsion as a dust suppressant for the fiberglass industry. We have also developed wax emulsions from renewable bio-based oils to provide water resistance on composite panels, paper coatings and gypsum board. There are many advantages to these new bio-based emulsions:
  • they are made from renewable resources;
  • the formulations use domestic crops, locally sourced where possible;
  • they are not dependent on the unpredictable petroleum market;
  • the vegetable oils have a higher flash point, which means they stay with the product to continue their role; and they improve the functionality of our products.
The demand for these earth friendly wax emulsions is growing. We are pleased to help our customers take a step forward in their environmental performance through the use of these more earth friendly products.



EARTH 1st - It's a Way of Life
To encourage employees to learn the EARTH 1st principles and learn the actions required to achieve higher environmental performance, we developed a board game: “EARTH 1st - it’s a way of life.” Just like in life, you can take risks and hope you can win without facing a challenge, but if you are not prepared for a challenge when it comes, it can affect the environment - and your pocket book.

Through playing the game, our employees learn:
  • how to use the EARTH 1st manual and what it contains
  • environmental legislation requirements
  • the types of environmental challenges we may face
  • the importance of training, looking for ways of being more efficient and planning in helping us through environmental challenges.




EARTH 1st Contractor Challenge
In 2004, we challenged our contractors to share how they have embraced the EARTH 1st principles. The prize of a green Canadian made canoe went to Robert Martin Engineering, who had added insulation, replaced an inefficient air conditioning system and installed programmable thermostats. The company also had plans to replace doors, caulking and weather stripping and to install low flow toilets. We continually encourage all of our contractors to embrace the EARTH 1st principles.



Environmental Performance Reviews
Since 2003, Walker Industries has conducted environmental performance reviews of each of its companies. The performance reviews measure each company’s successes in meeting the EARTH 1st principles. We look at what steps are being taken to support the environment as well as whether our facilities are in compliance with environmental legislation. The reviews give our employees a measurement of what the company is doing well and where to focus their attention to improve their performance. We structured the reviews so that each facility would look beyond the obvious to achieve higher environmental performance.



IMS Nature-Inspired Engineering at the Rice Road Landfill Site
When the City of Thorold asked IMS to come up with a solution for treating effluent from its closed Rice Road Landfill, we created a sustainable solution by engineering a wetland treatment system. Located at the headwaters of Twelve Mile Creek, the only “cold water” fishery in Niagara, the landfill had elevated nitrogen, ammonia, phosphorous and suspended solids in its drainage. The engineered wetland uses a porous media of sand and gravel along with bulrushes to naturally filter and treat the drainage and meet strict discharge criteria. Not only has the wetland treatment system proven to be a success, it’s more cost effective and practical than a traditional pump and treat system. IMS has partnered with Niagara College to monitor the continued success of the wetland treatment system.



Making a Clean Getaway
To encourage us all to consider fuel efficient driving options, we held a number of test drive days for employees to try out eco-efficient vehicles, provided by local auto dealerships. We challenged employees to look at their beliefs relating to their choice of automobile, to consider the influence of advertizing and culture on their decision, and to re-think their definition of “performance.”



Niagara Children's Water Festival
Since 2004, Walker Industries has been sharing the EARTH 1st message each year at the Niagara Children’s Water Festival. The water festival provides Grade 3 and 4 students a unique opportunity to learn about the importance of water by participating in exciting hands-on activities. The EARTH 1st workshop is an experiential workshop aimed at teaching children their part in the environment and showing them how much we rely on nature. It leaves them with this question: “How can we support nature in the same way it supports us?”


Niagara Children's Water Festival Website:  www.niagarachildrenswaterfestival.com

  




Niagara Waste Systems Limited Taking Landfill Back to Agriculture
In response to the Region of Niagara’s concern over the loss of agricultural lands, Niagara Waste Systems has partnered with the University of Guelph to study the possibility of reclaiming the East Landfill for agriculture. The research, which began in 2006, continues with the goal of determining the most economically viable option for farming. In 2012, we are planting 17 hectares of the East Landfill with alfalfa for use as animal feed.

On November 9, 2010, the City of Niagara Falls had its volunteer recognition evening at Club Italia. At that event Niagara Waste System Limited received an Environment Award for the East Landfill Agricultural Study. Tim McVicar was there to receive the award on behalf of the company. The agricultural research project is a collaboration with the University of Guelph. The project would not have been successful without the great work of our operators, Walter and Sons Construction and our great organic products from IMS compost and Niagara Biosolids





Walker Emulsions Closing the Water Loop
Motivated by a sustainability workshop in 2004 led by the Rocky Mountain Institute, we created a closed-loop water system at Walker Emulsions' manufacturing plant in Burlington, Ontario. When making wax emulsions, we now use about 65-70% of the cooling water. During the construction season, we use 100% of the water in manufacturing products. By redesigning our operations to capture cooling water already heated by the heat exchanger for use in the process, we saved both water and energy.



Norjohn Transfer Systems Using Nature to Brighten Their World
In 2002, we needed to repair a leaking roof at the Norjohn Transfer Station. When the metal panels were removed and sunlight poured in, we saw an opportunity to do things differently. Replacing the metal panels with translucent panels allowed sunlight to light the tipping floor. Using natural light not only saved energy, but improved health and safety. Drivers entering the transfer station no longer need to allow their eyes to adjust to the changing light. Lighting from nature has since spread to other Walker building designs.



Sock-it Program Earth Day 2004
The change to energy efficient light bulbs symbolizes giving up old ways of thinking and embracing new ideas. We saved 458,160 kilowatt hours of energy and 137 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (over the life of the bulb) through our Earth Day 2004 give away and employee purchase program of energy efficient light bulbs. The “Sock-it” program encouraged our employees to move towards more efficient operations, and also encouraged us all to think about how we can create significant change by making small changes in our lives.



Walker Industries is committed to the community, environment and tommorrow's generation through the EARTH 1st Principles

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