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Audit helps business become carbon neutral

UNBC carbon footprintA partnership between the Prince George Chamber of Commerce and the University of Northern British Columbia has helped local businesses better understand their carbon footprint and has facilitated one local business to become carbon neutral.

The Carbon Footprint Reduction Program completed its third phase which saw JFT Secure become the first participating business to meet the threshold to become carbon neutral.

“This is a great example of what can be achieved when the business community comes together with the post-secondary community, demonstrating value to both sides and the community as a whole,” says Prince George Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer, Christie Ray. “The Prince George Chamber is very proud to have led this initiative, made possible by funding from CN. We look forward to furthering the relationship with our post-secondary institutions, and to bringing more students into the business community in this capacity.”

The project is sponsored by CN, one of the largest employers in the Prince George area.

“CN is proud to work with its partners in Prince George on the Carbon Footprint Reduction project,” says Norm Hart, CN Superintendent Northern British Columbia. “We who live and work in this community share a mutual commitment to environmental sustainability.”

To recognize the milestone, a tree is being planted at Duchess Community Park and an interpretive plaque is being installed to increase awareness about how people and businesses can reduce their carbon footprint and help the local environment.

“Through the Carbon Footprint Reduction Project, UNBC has been able to contribute its expertise in sustainability to local businesses, who in turn have offered UNBC students a living laboratory to apply their research and make a difference,” says UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “The partnership with the Prince George Chamber of Commerce has allowed students to develop leadership skills, gain experience, and forge connections with local entrepreneurs.”

JFT Secure implemented many of the suggestions made by UNBC students, including energy efficient office lighting and energy efficient vehicles in its fleet.

“Working with UNBC students and the Chamber of Commerce on the Carbon Footprint Reduction Project was a great opportunity for me to see how I can reduce my company’s carbon footprint,” says JFT Secure President Jason Thompson. “I am proud the company is officially carbon neutral. This is very important as the majority of my business is connected to the energy and natural resource sectors in British Columbia.”

The program, launched by the Chamber of Commerce in 2014, encourages businesses to become more energy efficient, help improve local air quality, increase recycling, and reduce waste.

The second phase of the program was a course offered at UNBC in the 2015 winter semester which gave students the chance to examine the energy consumption of participating local businesses and suggest ways for them to reduce their carbon footprint.

The third phase received funds from UNBC’s Undergraduate Experiential Service Learning program, the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, and CN. It allowed UNBC Environmental Engineering student Natalie Alteen to work with participating businesses to help implement techniques to reduce their carbon footprints.

Alteen also designed the plaque that is on display at Duchess Community Park.

“This plaque was designed to help kids understand the role that trees play in the carbon cycle, including sequestration of CO2 derived from fossil fuel emissions,” she says. “It also explains how we can measure and reduce our personal carbon footprints.”

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