BY BILL PHILLIPS
The Northern Lights Estate Winery is going carbon neutral.
Earlier this year the local craft winery had a detailed assessment of its carbon footprint conducted through CN’s Carbon Reduction Project for Business by the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia, and the decision was made to go carbon neutral.
“When we started the project we were very pleased with the cooperation with them and UNBC and work they did to put forward a report of everything we’re producing for carbon within our operations,” said Doug Bell, Northern Lights Estate Winery owner/operator. “It made a lot of sense for us to actually say ‘what are we going to do with this information?’”
The winery has embraced a new certification in order to reduce its total carbon emissions. Northern Lights Estate Winery chose to purchase carbon credits to offset environmental impact of its operations.
“This is just a small step that we can take to hopefully become leaders within our industry and our community, but by no means the last step,” said Bell. “Years from now it’s going to matter what we do today.”
Carbon management students and a carbon intern provided Northern Lights Estate Winery with a carbon footprint analyses, ideas to make operational changes and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, lower operational expenses and further information as to become carbon neutral.
“The winery’s philosophy has always been about sustainability,” said Bell. “This program has offered us an opportunity to do just that.”
This is the third year of the five-year program, which is funded by CN and delivered through the chamber of commerce.
“The Chamber is in a unique position as it creates new avenues for students to have experiential learning and utilize new job skills,” said Barbara Otter, project coordinator for the chamber.
Under the program, chamber members receive a free third-party evaluation and then choose how they wish to proceed.
Geoff Payne, interim vice-president of research at UNBC, pointed out that in addition to the obvious environmental benefits of going carbon neutral, the program is a great learning experience for UNBC students.
“The real benefit is the opportunity for students to get engaged early on in this experiential learning to make such an important impact in an important area,” he said. “It’s not just the education aspect of it, the experience, it’s taking those experiences and turning them into tangible outcomes.”
The Chamber, CN and the University of Northern British Columbia have committed to continue this project with funding and support through 2019. The Chamber has a few spots left to fill for the January to April 2018 offering.