The Cascades Model, One Year Later
This successful green initiative is inspiring corporations to follow suit.
In 2018, Cascades launched a $2,000 employee green-vehicle purchase incentive program. One year later, the pilot project, which was expanded to all of its Quebec-based employees, will soon be available in Ontario.
“We didn’t expect it to be so popular,” admits Sustainable Development Consultant, Marie-Ève Chapdelaine. “We expected to receive a dozen or so requests during the first twelve months, and we ended up with approximately one hundred.”
In addition, contrary to government programs, Cascades doesn’t discriminate between electric and hybrid vehicles. “We felt that offering only $1,000 towards the purchase of hybrid vehicles was insufficient to convince our people to make the switch.”
Along the way, the company realized that the range of all-electric vehicles didn’t necessarily meet everybody’s requirements. “While the majority of our employees travel an average of 40 km to commute to work, we weren’t aware that some of them travelled up to 150 km, which created certain logistical challenges in the management of charging stations,” explains Chapdelaine.
“As we have multiple locations,” she adds, “we need to manage vehicle charging at each site. We couldn’t just install charging stations and tell the users to figure it out. They need answers to their questions while making sure that the person who has the most distance to travel can make it home at the end of their workday.”
While Cascades was grateful for the financial support from the “Charging Station at Work” program, Chapdelaine says that if she had to do it over again, she would have not opted for a power-sharing system that allows several vehicles to be charged at once, but reduces the power supplied to each user.
Since Cascades installed a public fast-charge station at their Kingsey Falls headquarters, they used the opportunity to promote local products and services to travellers stopping to recharge their vehicles.
“People use social media to thank us for offering the charging station, and I think that this also serves to alert other travellers as well,” Chapdelaine adds. “We sometimes take a few minutes to chat with them and ask them where they come from and how they learned about it.”
Chapdelaine has stopped counting the number of requests she has received from other companies for advice on how to implement charging stations in the workplace. She points out that not a week goes by where she doesn’t receive this type of request, and she is always pleased to share her experience with companies wishing to follow her example.