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Environmental responsibility

We're accountable for the impact of our operations on the environment, so we're taking even more steps to measure, manage and reduce that impact, such as:

  • In operating the company, increasing our carbon management and resource efficiency through a focus on technology, and gaining greater efficiencies in energy consumption, travel, waste and water.
  • Being the first major Canadian life insurer to sign on to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, ensuring deeper consideration of environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities when we invest.
  • Strong management of the environmental impact of our real estate investment portfolio.

Managing our operating footprint

With more than 30,000 Employees and 89,000 advisors spanning 25 countries, managing our operating footprint is important. From IT infrastructure efficiency to ensuring we buy paper with recycled content, we pursue opportunities to reduce our impact on the environment.

We further advance our company's sustainability by being a:

  • Member of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative
  • Signatory and responding company to the CDP Climate Change Program
  • Member of the Council for Clean Capitalism
  • Supporter of location-specific initiatives like Sustainable Waterloo Region's TravelWise and Regional Carbon Initiative programs

Trimming our IT profile

In 2015 we focused on reduction and efficiency. First, we removed 132 hardware servers, reducing our overall electrical power consumption by 66kWs and resulting in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and savings of $70,000 for the fiscal year. We also disposed of 393 hard drives, sending them to a local company for recycling instead of to a landfill.

Engaging with suppliers

Our commitment to sustainability extends to the practices of our suppliers. To help ensure the vendors and suppliers we work with adhere to our code of conduct, we collect data from larger existing suppliers and include environmental and social questions in all new supplier requests for proposals (RFPs).

As part of the RFP process, we require all respondents to reply to Sun Life's Sustainability Questionnaire, which we use in the overall evaluation and final selection process.

We also require that all suppliers acknowledge our Supplier Code of Conduct, which details our minimum expectations, including that suppliers conduct their business ethically, responsibly and in full compliance with all applicable federal/provincial/state/local laws and regulatory requirements, as well as any policies and procedures communicated to them by Sun Life.

Learn more about becoming a supplier with Sun Life.

Environmental sustainability in our offices

In 2015, our century-old Canadian headquarters was awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification in the "Existing Building: Operations and Maintenance" category. All our major corporate sites in Canada are LEED Certified buildings.

Reusing and recycling office construction materials

When an organization moves or renovates, much of the corporate interior – furniture, appliances, computers, and supplies – can end up in landfill. In fact, millions of tons end up in North American landfills each year, contributing to carbon emissions.

Where practical, Sun Life partners with Green Standards to explore resale, recycling and charitable donation options first. In 2015, this approach resulted in the following outcomes:

  • 100% diverted from landfill
  • 47 tonnes diverted from landfill
  • $23,010 of in-kind charitable donations
  • 163 tonnes of CO2 emissions reduced
  • 47 tonnes of materials diverted from landfill

equal to…

  • 18,256 gallons gasoline consumption reduced
  • 4,173 tree seedlings growing for 10 years
  • 22 houses electricity use for 1 year

Our commitment to responsible investing

We were the first major Canadian life insurer to become a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI). As a signatory and where consistent with our other responsibilities, Sun Life has committed to the following:

1. Incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.

As we gain expertise in responsible investing, we will continually update our underwriting practices in each asset class, focusing on where we can have the most impact from an ESG perspective.

In 2015, we focused on our private asset classes with a particular emphasis on governance.

2. Be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.

In 2015, we updated investment guidelines for each of our major asset classes to incorporate ESG factors.

3. Seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.

Through contact with management, we encourage disclosure of ESG issues by the entities we invest in.

4. Promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.

As appropriate, we participate in industry forums to encourage other investors to follow our lead on the integration of ESG factors into their decision making processes.

5. We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.

As we have implemented UN PRI, we have sought out other investors who have adopted the Principles to engage collaboratively in the implementation of the Principles.

6. We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

We will complete the questionnaire provided by the UN PRI for the asset classes that require reporting.

Investing in clean and renewable energy

Sun Life has been investing in clean and renewable energy for more than 31 years by providing long-term financing solutions to developers. This includes more than $3.8 billion in energy-related projects, such as hydroelectric, wind, gas-fired and biomass power generation. In 2015, we provided financing for approximately $501 million across 9 green and renewable energy projects in the U.S. and Canada.

Approx $501 million invested in 9 green and renewable energy projects in 2015
Over $3.8 billion invested in energy-related projects over more than 31 years

Sun Life acquires Bentall Kennedy Group

In September 2015, Sun Life acquired Bentall Kennedy Group, a premier real estate investment company providing specialized investment management and real estate services, including property management and leasing.

Bentall Kennedy complements Sun Life Investment Management's expertise in asset-liability management, fixed income and alternative asset classes by extending real estate and mortgage investment capabilities.

The 2 companies also share a common focus on Clients, strong governance and a commitment to sustainability. In fact, Bentall Kennedy is a recognized leader in Responsible Property Investing, ranked first in its category in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) study.

Bentall Kennedy is a member of UN PRI and received the Energy Star Partner of the Year — Sustained Excellence Award for the past 5 years.

2015 Sustainability Report

For a review of our energy and greenhouse gas emissions profile, and to learn more about our commitment to environmental responsibility, download the full 2015 Sustainability Report.

  Download the full Sustainability Report