Clean Tech: Canada's Fastest Growing Industry
A report published last month by Analytica Advisors claims that Canada’s clean tech industry is growing faster than every other major sector of the nation’s economy.
Analytica Advisors, an Ottawa-based consulting firm, tracked the industry’s growth between 2008 and 2012 and found that the clean tech sector grew by nine percent in 2012 alone. That same year, clean tech companies directly employed 41,000 people in Canada and generated $11.3 billion in revenues. The report’s findings are based on a survey of more than 700 primarily small and medium-sized companies. Analytica projects that Canada’s clean tech sector could grow into a $32 billion industry over the next decade, directly employing up to 120,000 people by 2022.
Several organizations within Canada are actively supporting development within the clean tech industry. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) has been working with numerous clean tech companies in Canada to develop promising clean technology projects within the country. The SDTC is a non-profit foundation that finances and supports the development and demonstration of clean technologies that provide solutions to issues of climate change, clean air, water quality and soil.
Vancouver’s Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies has taken valuable nutrients from sewage treatment plants and delivered them to home gardens. The company designs, builds and sells wastewater treatment systems. Ostara's Pearl process retrieves phosphate and ammonia from wastewater facilities resulting in improved treatment and reduced maintenance. With help from the SDTC, the company also discovered a way to remove struvite from wastewater, leading to the development of a slow release commercial fertilizer called Crystal Green. Ostara has commercial nutrient recovery facilities in Oregon, Virginia, Pennsylvania and London.
The remediation industry plays an important role in clean tech. Ontario-based SiREM provides unique, science-based products and services to the remediation industry. The company’s focus is on the remediation of chlorinated solvents and other recalcitrant chemicals. According to their website, SiREM offers bioremediation, zero-valent iron and chemical oxidation treatability studies, molecular genetic testing for dechlorinating bacteria and bioaugmentation cultures. The SDTC reportedly helped SiREM demonstrate the first Canadian application of KB-1 to contaminated sites.
Natural Gas is also synonymous with clean tech. Westport Innovations develops alternative fuel, low-emissions technologies to allow engines to operate on clean-burning fuels such as compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, hydrogen and biofuels such as landfill gas. The Vancouver company is the global leader in natural gas engines. Westport works directly with top global truck and engine manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia. The SDTC helped Westport take an idea out of the lab at UBC and apply it to the real world by putting five proto-type trucks on Canada's busiest highway.
Calgary’s Titanium Corporation creates value from oil sands waste tailings by recuperating and selling bitumen and high-value minerals and solvents while reducing the water demands of the oil sands mining industry. Due to their work at the Canadian oil sands—the second largest oil reserve in the world—Titanium was able to develop a multi-stage process to separate zircon from the soil. Zircon is a valuable element highly sought by ceramic tile makers. Without Titanium’s separation process, some $1 billion in commodities would be lost at the site. The SDTC helped Titanium prove to oil sands operators that they can recover of 80 percent of the bitumen lost in tailings, 75 percent of the solvent and 95 percent of the valuable heavy minerals like zircon.
Water is a precious resource, especially with worrisome drought occurring all over the world. Pure Technologies—also based in Calgary—is a world leader in the inspection, monitoring and management of physical infrastructure such as water, wastewater and oil and gas pipelines. The SDTC helped Pure develop two pipeline inspection tools that are currently in use around the globe in cities such as Manila, Dallas and Mexico City. Pipediver is a tool easily inserted into a pipeline that swims through pipelines to detect wirebreaks while Sahara is a small tool that can identify tiny leaks that might be missed by more invasive technology. The company is leading the way in condition assessment through the use of electromagnetics and acoustics, resulting in less water wasted and less money spent.
Solar power is perhaps the most globally recognized sector of sustainable energy, yet solar installations are often quite costly initially. Toronto’s Morgan Solar team has taken it upon itself to develop solar technology using inexpensive raw materials—including $3 plastic—to make solar power more accessible to consumers. The company has developed the revolutionary Sun Simba Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) module and Savanna dual-axis tracker, two solar energy technologies that fundamentally change the economics of solar power through low-cost materials and innovative panel designs. The SDTC is currently helping Morgan Solar demonstrate the efficiency of their technologies to the global market.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.