Entrepreneur Jess Reno, owner of Nemesis Coffee, incorporates sustainability into all aspects of his coffeeshop at SFU's Vancouver campus.


SFU embeds sustainability into commercial contracts

October 30, 2017

By Ashleigh Erwin

Simon Fraser University is now selecting local, sustainable contractors over large corporate competitors as part of its commitment to sustainability, innovation, community and customer service.

“In particular circumstances, it is a very deliberate decision to seek operators who embed themselves within the neighbourhood and support the community," says Mark McLaughlin, SFU’s chief commercial services officer.

"A big chain with national procurement contracts doesn’t always align with our vision of sustainability.”  

A recent partnership between SFU’s Vancouver campus and Nemesis Coffee is an example.  Owner Jess Reno is a young, talented entrepreneur, conscious that every action he takes, however small, needs to have a positive impact both locally and globally.

“Coffee is one of the largest trade commodities in the world, but specialty coffee is more sustainable in both its investment infrastructure and farming structures,” says Reno.

“By paying more money for the green bean you alleviate the headache that farmers are facing, like ‘how am I going to eat, drink clean water, and provide for my family right now on a dollar a day?’  The coffee comes out tasting better, and the customers are way happier with the results.”

Nemesis’ other sustainable practices include sourcing organic, traceable, local milk; recycling milk waste into cheese; foraging for its own grains and vegetables; and purchasing from local farmhouses with short transportation routes that also have sustainable practices.

Nemesis’ retail clothing items are Canadian-made, with smaller carbon footprints and no sweat labour. Even the white oak in the café’s décor is reclaimed wood from B.C.

“It costs us more money but the products are of a much higher quality, and we’re doing our part to improve our world,” says Reno.

Nemesis’ farm-to-table events support local non-profit organizations working with the Vancouver Downtown East Side, and SFU students are invited to attend free “cupping” events where they learn about sustainable business practices.

McLaughlin says, “As an engaged university, we need to use every opportunity we can to seek and promote partnerships like this, to ensure that economic, social and ecological sustainability practices can translate into important returns, not only for SFU, but for local and global communities.”