It's Earth Day, so Canada's largest coffee chain has an announcement to make: It's green. According to the Wall Street Journal,
To celebrate Earth Day, Tim Hortons executives cut the ribbon today on the company's first LEED(R) Certified restaurant....At Tim Hortons we acknowledge we have an environmental impact in the communities we serve and we are committed to continuously improving our restaurant footprint, from how we source material, to how we use energy, to how we design our restaurants and manage our waste," said Paulo Ferreira, senior director, International Strategic Design and Building Standards, Tim Hortons. "Our first LEED(R) Certified restaurant in Hamilton represents a significant achievement for us in our sustainability journey.
For Americans who don't know about Timmys, It sells about 80% of the coffee in Canada. They are mostly drive-throughs; One study in Edmonton found that the customers idling while they wait at a single store wasted 158,784 litres of fuel and contributed 385,902 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions. How could such a thing, that fundamentally encourages the waste of gasoline, possibly be considered green?
Because the Canada Green Building Council, who runs LEED in the country, says it is. They certified it so. From the WSJ:
I'd like to congratulate Tim Hortons on their first LEED certified restaurant," said Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of the Canada Green Building Council. "This certification is significant not only because one of Canada's most well recognized brands is demonstrating its commitment to sustainability, but for the excellent example it sets for other national companies and restaurant chains. Sustainability can only be achieved through tangible efforts like these, and we look forward to working with Tim Hortons as they roll out their sustainability initiatives.
They are complicit in this charade by certifying a laughably inappropriate use such as a drivethrough. As if low VOC paint, a bike rack and mostly glass walls "to maximize the amount of natural light to the space" are actually making a dent in the footprint of this thing. They say the LEED certified restaurant " benefits from a 23 per cent cost reduction in regulated energy" without even mentioning the effect of all those cars lining up.
Then there is the take-out waste from Tim Hortons, that fills every garbage can in Hamilton. The city's taxpayers have to pay to empty them; It is no different from Toronto, where a few years ago Councillor Gord Perks complained:
The city of Toronto, both in households, in street cleaning and in our parks, is paying for the fact the province will not regulate packaging and will not make the manufacturers and producers of that waste pay the cost of cleaning it up – which means the property taxpayer has to pay for it (and) we have to spend precious dollars from our parks department."
Yet the mayor and the chair of the CaGBC are there, cutting the ribbon on this factory for carbon dioxide and cardboard cups in the middle of a sea of asphalt. On Earth Day. What a charade.
This is not the first time I have written about such a thing; When I complained about a Starbucks calling it "just another cog in sprawl-automobile-energy industrial complex that we have to change if we are going to survive and prosper", commenters said that my writing "seems more and more like whining. If absolute perfection is your goal, absolutely nothing will ever be good enough."
I suppose that is true, especially on Earth Day.