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About The RBC Blue Water Project™

The RBC Blue Water Project is a wide-ranging program dedicated to protecting the world's most precious natural resource: fresh water. In 2013-2014, we will support initiatives that help protect water in our growing towns and cities.

We also promote responsible water use with our employees and clients, are committed to reducing the intensity of our own water footprint and encourage the growth of water businesses.

Donations/Grants

The centrepiece of the RBC Blue Water Project is a $50 million charitable commitment to support organizations that are working to protect water in our growing towns and cities. We provide grants in regions where we have a business footprint.

 

Sponsorships and Partnerships

The RBC Blue Water Project sponsors conferences, economic reports and events that help build awareness about the importance of water. See who we support.

 

Employee Involvement

RBC employees and retirees are passionate volunteers and we provide a number of programs that make it easy for them to contribute time and resources to a range of causes, including water protection. Learn more.

 

Impact

When we launched the RBC Blue Water Project in 2007, we decided to support two broad areas: watershed protection and access to clean drinking water. We felt that by casting such a wide net, we could get to know the fullest range of people and organizations working to protect water; fast track critical funding to a variety of national, regional and community-based projects around the world; and learn as much as we could about water. At the same time, we also wanted to help raise awareness about water issues.

In 2011 - 12, we commissioned the Monitor Institute to evaluate the social and environmental impacts of the RBC Blue Water Project to date. Monitor surveyed a cross-section of about 20 per cent of our grant recipients and developed a small subset of metrics that were common across most of the initiatives we funded. Monitor found that:

  • 3 million North American households were positively affected by programs funded by RBC.
  • Nearly 2.5 million kilolitres of water were conserved through programs funded by RBC.
  • More than 810,000 people attended service/training opportunities with organizations funded by RBC.
  • 80,000 people logged over 400,000 hours volunteering with community-based watershed protection programs funded by RBC.

One of our goals with the RBC Blue Water Project is to help create capacity in the charitable water sector. RBC has a reputation for integrity and due diligence in our grant-making processes, and over the years, many charitable organizations have told us that RBC funding is often considered a de facto "seal of approval," allowing them to attract additional funding from other donors more easily. The Monitor study revealed that more than 80 organizations in North America were able to leverage their RBC Blue Water Project grants to acquire more than $4.7 million in additional funding, an average of $50,000 per organization.

 

Our Water Commitments

The RBC Environmental Blueprint outlines the following water commitments:

  • Reduce the use of water in our facilities, on a per employee basis or per square metre of occupied space.
  • Encourage the use of reusable water containers and water coolers or tap water in our premises, where appropriate.
  • Encourage our larger suppliers to conserve water by adding criteria for water use, where appropriate, to our procurement procedures.
  • Increasing the use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products in our facilities in order to reduce the quantity of hazardous substances in wastewater.

We report annually on our progress against these commitments.  To view our progress on water, see page 5 of the 2012 RBC Environmental Blueprint Report Card.

WATER PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS
Watershed conservation and access to clean fresh water are considered to be two of the key contributors to human health and economic development around the world. While RBC’s level of direct water consumption is relatively small, we are committed to reducing our water use where practical and supporting water related causes through the RBC Blue Water Project. 

  • In 2012 we committed over $6.7 million to fresh water initiatives. Since 2007, RBC has pledged over $36 million to more than 500 charitable organizations worldwide that protect watersheds and promote access to clean drinking water, with an additional $6 million pledged to universities for water programs.
  • Sponsored events that promoted thought leadership on water issues including the 2012 Globe Conference, Ryerson Speaker Series on Water Ethics, Canadian Water Summit and the Imagine H20 Innovation Challenge.
  • Leased nearly 306,000 square metres of office space certified or in the process of obtaining certification to LEED, BREEAM or BOMA BESt standards, representing 41% of global floor area in major properties. These buildings include a number of water efficiency features.
  • Incorporated water efficient fixtures in our new retail branch design that will reduce potable water use by 27% compared to plumbing code.
  • The RBC Centre in Toronto, ON is designed to use approximately 22 million litres less potable water per year when compared to a building designed to the local building code. Water efficiency features include a rainwater harvesting system and low flow kitchen and washroom fixtures.
  • Royal Bank Plaza in Toronto, ON recently upgraded water fixtures, resulting in annualized savings of over 19 million litres.
  • The redesigned landscape watering system at our Meadowvale office in Mississauga, ON, saves approximately 10 million litres annually compared to the previous system.
  • The RBC Employee Environmental Stewardship Guidelines include staff procedures to report leaky faucets and guidance on employee use of reusable water containers, water coolers or tap water.
  • Maintained internal guidelines for hosting “green” meetings including tips for conserving water and “tap water preferred” policies.
Under the Responsible Procurement Policy, we ask suppliers if they have action plans to minimize adverse environmental impacts to water (quality and quantity) and we also include water considerations in the product life-cycle analysis, if applicable. Water efficiency considerations are embedded into the majority of leasing and procurement activities that focus on real estate.
 
 

Apply for Funding

Need support for a charitable initiative that protects water in our growing towns and cities? Apply for an RBC Blue Water Project grant in late 2014.

 

Find out how RBC Blue Water Project is impacting water in Ripple Effect. Read the Report. (opens new window)