CSC and the environment

An image of solar panels installed in 2011 on the roof of the firing lane at Grande Cache Institution in Alberta.

CSC is proud of its commitment to the environment. We have taken steps to reduce our impact on the world around us and worked hard to improve our environmental performance and have set goals that are both measureable and realistic. We have been careful in the way we consume our natural resources, reduced our emissions and our carbon footprint, and removed potentially harmful contaminants found on our properties from decades ago. We strive to make a difference because it's the right thing to do.

Did you know that in order to protect the public our penitentiaries have to be self-supporting? If the local municipality suffers a power outage, federal penitentiaries must keep running. We operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day, all across the country; from our bigger cities to some of the most remote parts of Canada. We also employ thousands of staff and accommodate thousands of inmates. A number of our institutions operate on large plots of land and produce some of their own electricity. Many treat their own wastewater and drinking water, manage their own solid and hazardous wastes and even control their air emissions by changing the way they heat and cool the buildings. We have 43 federal institutions and dozens of parole offices all across Canada, we must be aware of how that work affects our environment.

Land and soil

Protecting the land and soil around us from toxic contamination should be a big part of any plan to help our environment. After all, clean and fertile soil supports animal and plant life, food production and our health. With this goal in mind, CSC is committed to the most secure and efficient management of today's waste. At the same time, we assess any damage to the environment that may have been caused by the waste and outdated practices of years passed. Once we know that land has been contaminated, we do our best to repair that damage. We prevent the release of hazardous wastes into the natural environment by reducing the amount of hazardous materials used by our organization, whenever we can. When they must be used, they are stored safely and disposed of properly. We also have a proactive approach when it comes to reusing and recycling electronic and electrical equipment, and when responsibly disposing of solid wastes.

CSC has a long history, with some of our penitentiaries being over a hundred years old. Unfortunately, some of our older sites were constructed and operated during a time when there was less awareness and concern about the environment. We simply did not know then what we know now about how to properly dispose of waste and the possible long-term risks posed by certain practices. For example, Collins Bay Institution had disposed of some construction and institutional waste materials in nearby quarries and pits many years ago. At this site, we assessed the affected areas to determine if, and by how much, these areas were contaminated. This is just one example of how we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the sites under our control are safe and remain safe in the future. If any more areas of concern come to light, we will continue to address them with our well-established approach.

For more information on CSC's initiatives on protecting land and soil, and on contaminated sites, please see our Sustainable Development Strategy.


CSC recognizes that it has a role to play in protecting Canadian bodies of water – Canada's rivers, streams, lakes and coastlines – from harmful pollutants and contamination; preserving both their pristine beauty and their critical ecosystems. We support the responsible use of fresh water resources through conservation efforts and wastewater treatment, as Canada is fortunate to contain extensive sources of fresh water. CSC is keenly aware that having a proactive approach and being responsible with water usage is important for future generations.

CSC has policies and guidelines in place to manage water and wastewater treatment. At the institutions where we operate our own wastewater treatment plants, these policies help guide our staff. They help us to comply with the laws and regulations that protect our environment. Our policies also inform our staff about the safe disposal of wastewater and about how to properly install and maintain treatment facilities. This makes sure we properly monitor our wastewater treatment activities and that we test wastewater for any contaminants that could be potentially harmful to us or the environment.

To promote the responsible use of water in federal institutions, we also have policy guidelines to monitor how much water we use at our penitentiaries. They provide direction to our staff so we can reduce the amount of water we consume. Every year, we review how we use water so we can make improvements. For example, some of our institutions have replaced heat exchangers in refrigeration equipment and in other devices that use water for cooling. Other improvements have included installing low-flow toilets and faucets and placing timers on kitchen faucets and lawn irrigation systems.

For more information on what CSC does to protect Canada's water resources, please see our most recent Sustainable Development Strategy.

Air and energy emissions

Reducing air pollution is a big part of our environmental strategy. We know that if we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions then we can help do our part in the battle against climate change. We believe that reducing emissions takes a group effort and that success is only possible when people, and organizations like ours, each do their part. We are very mindful of this responsibility and we take reducing air pollution very seriously. This is why we have taken concrete steps to help diminish our carbon footprint.

We are very proud that we benefit from renewable energies to supplement our power usage at some institutions. We have installed large wind turbines at two penitentiaries for this purpose. In 2009, a wind turbine was installed at Dorchester Institution and another at Drumheller Institution in 2010. We have also replaced outdated cooling systems at many of our institutions as they represented some risk for harmful leaks.

Although we are happy with our progress, we still want to build on our successes. To inspire action, we strive to make our environmental goals easily measurable, in order to report our results to staff and Canadians alike. We want to be accountable for the role we play in tackling global climate change and protecting Canada's environment.

For more information on CSC's initiatives on air pollution and reducing emissions, please see our most recent Sustainable Development Strategy.