BY BILL PHILLIPS
National Tree Day was picked to celebrate the ongoing CN Carbon Reduction Project for Business in Prince George.
The project, run through the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, utilizes UNBC students to help local businesses become more environmentally sustainable. Centered between a Scotch pine and fir tree recently planted in Duchess Park, a small ceremony was held Wednesday to celebrate the program and a plaque unveiled.
“The chamber is pleased to continue with CN’s Carbon Reduction Project for Businesses again,” said Erika Ewacha, Chamber CEO. “This project embraces education of carbon reduction for local businesses.”
Through the program, UNBC educates the students who in turn educate the businesses as to the benefits of reducing reliance on fossil fuels; to include reduced operating costs and a greener brand. Businesses receive a free carbon footprint analyses as the students hone their new experiential learning skills by analyzing utility bills and employee commute data.
The Chamber further facilitates business participants’ desire to reduce their carbon footprints or even become carbon neutral through summer interns. UNBC’s Arctica Cunningham was this intern this summer, completing carbon audits at the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council office and Powder King Mountain.
CN is the primary funder for the program and contributed $107,262 for 2015-17 and has committed $56,426 for 2018-19.
“At CN sustainability is one of our core values,” said Lori Needham, CN – National Account Manager, adding last year CN helped 150 communities develop green spaces. The company has also gotten into planting trees, since is a major user of wood for railroad ties using the equivalent of 600,000 trees per year.
“We planted 100,000 trees in the Prince George area alone,” she said.
UNBC’s Undergraduate Experiential Service Learning Program has committed to funding over $14,700 directly to the students, from 2015-2018, for the carbon reduction project.
The course instructor, Prof. Kyrke Gaudreau, looks forward to continuing this project through the Carbon Management: Sustainable Business in a Carbon-Constrained World course during the winter term. This course has been offered for three years in a row and is slated to continue for at least another two. UNBC Carbon Management students apply theory to practice as they assist business to improve local air quality, become more energy efficient, increase recycling and reduce waste.
The Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable funded a media campaign in 2014, the carbon intern in 2016 and advertising dollars in 2017, committed more than $45,000.
The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions funded the carbon intern in 2015 and 2017 … $10,000 each year for $20,000 so far.
Twenty businesses have had individualized, free carbon footprint analyses completed by UNBC students in three years.
Other 2017 business participants include: AMCO Wholesale, Lithium One, Northern Lights Estate Winery, Prince George and District Community Arts Council (Studio 2880), Prince George Diaper Service and Stinger Welding.