Inspiring stories - Going green: Championing sustainability in the oil and gas sector

While many businesses recognize the importance of giving back to local communities, few walk the talk as well as Integrated Sustainability. The full-service engineering consulting firm—which provides Canada’s oil and gas industry with sustainable answers to water, waste and energy management problems—was recognized in 2019 as one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers by Canada’s Top 100 Employers. And for good reason.

“We have a thriving group of professionals who have a keen interest in using their skills to give back to local communities,” says Stuart Torr, President. “People want to be part of a business that is not only fun and dynamic, but that also has a purpose.”

Stuart has helped to drive that purpose in countless ways. In addition to providing his 100 employees with profit sharing opportunities and support for new parents, the South African-born, UK-educated and Canadian-settled environmental engineer actively encourages his people to participate in numerous community development projects both locally and abroad.

In association with a not-for-profit called Energy for All, the company is working with local First Nations near Calgary to help rehabilitate or restructure the current water and waste management infrastructure. Currently, they’re focused on helping community leaders overcome regulatory hurdles and find access to the capital needed to support a project of this scale.

The company is also spearheading the WhiteFox Pipeline Effluent Conveyance project, whose partners and backers include oil and gas producers, the Alberta Newsprint Company, Millar Western Forest Products, the town of Whitecourt, the town of Fox Creek, the municipality of Greenview and local First Nations. The project’s basic premise is to bring wastewater from the pulp and paper industry to the oil and gas industry.

“This project aims to bring water to a region that has limited access to fresh water from rivers and streams,” Stuart explains. In addition to helping the environment through the recycling and reuse of waste products, this project shows how different industries and entities can work together to achieve sustainability goals. Currently, Integrated Sustainability is in consultation with 13 different First Nations, several of which are directly on the proposed pipeline route. Instead of taking the traditional approach of payment for use of the land, however, the consortium is working to give these communities long-term trailing revenue in exchange for their participation.

Working farther afield, Stuart and 10 of his staff members were recently in Tanzania as part of a project to provide water to a rural village. “For years, community members had to walk 10 kilometers to the closest river to access untreated water,” Stuart says. “Now they have four groundwater wells that deliver clean water locally. Beyond transforming the community, this project changed the lives of the people involved by allowing them to see the tangible results of their work.”

Thanks to this social and progressive approach to community involvement, Integrated Sustainability is doing more than reducing freshwater use and greenhouse gas emissions. It is also lowering the cost of water management in the oil and gas industry, protecting the environment and creating win/win outcomes for communities and businesses alike.

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