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Carbon reduction program marks fourth year

Prince George businesses have taken advantage of a unique local initiative, developed with the financial assistance of CN, to become carbon neutral.

The Prince George Air Improvement Roundtables’ North Central BC Clean Air Forum 2018 became carbon neutral as a local event.  From a local business perspective, Northern Lights Estate Winery continued its carbon neutral status for a second consecutive year, and newcomers to the program, Prince George Driving For Life Academy and Timberline Footfitters, assisted the environment by becoming carbon neutral as well.

“The funding partnership with CN, and program support from UNBC, has enabled the Prince George Chamber of Commerce to work with our member businesses in finding opportunities for them to become environmental champions – mitigating their carbon footprint and, in some instances, reducing their overall operating expenses over the long term,” said Todd Corrigall, CEO for the Prince George Chamber of Commerce in a news release. “These businesses and functions are leaders in our community, paving the way for additional businesses to come on-board with the program and see the returns and impacts it garners.”

The Prince George Chamber’s Carbon Reduction Project, in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia, continues to assist local businesses to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, thereby improving local air quality.  CN continues to be the primary lead for funding as it continues to support environmental initiatives.

“We are incredibly proud of the Prince George community of which we are a part and are honoured to have contributed to the success of the Chamber’s Carbon Reduction Program that has supported so many businesses in reaching their carbon neutral goals,” said Brad Butterwick, General Superintendent for CN’s northern BC operations.

Since 2014, this project has benefited local chamber members through support, expedition and education on the path to carbon reduction.  A key part of this project is UNBC’s carbon management students, as they gather information from local volunteer businesses to create each a carbon footprint analysis, per internationally recognized standards. Additionally, the analysis provides customized recommendations on energy consumption and the potential for operational savings.

“UNBC is committed to sustainable initiatives such as this one in helping local entrepreneurs become carbon neutral,” said UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “This project has allowed the 27 students from UNBC who have participated in the program gain valuable knowledge through unique experiential learning opportunities, collaborating with organizations to help them reduce their carbon footprint.”

The chamber hired Louisa Hadley as this summer’s carbon intern.  A UNBC graduate student, Hadley, completed carbon footprint analyses on:  Nechako Bottle Depot, Northern Lights Estate Winery, Phoenix Transition Society, and Timberline Footfitters.  This year’s carbon management class completed carbon footprint analyses on:  the Aboriginal Business Development Centre, Mills Office Productivity, Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable’s 2018 Forum, Prince George Driving For Life Academy, Prince George Hospice Society, Rozon Dental, and Serengetti Northern BC.

Other project funders this year include:  the Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable, Service Canada and the University of Northern British Columbia.

Kim Menounos, of Fraser Basin Council, speaks on behalf of PGAIR in support of this Chamber project: “Initiatives that share in the reduction of PM2.5 and greenhouse gases are good for all of us. As a society, we need to move toward a greener existence, and away from the inefficient use of fossil fuels.”   

This course has been offered the last four years and has become a permanent course within UNBC’s Environmental Studies Program.  UNBC’s Carbon Management students apply theory to practice as they assist business to improve local air quality, become more energy efficient, increase their marketability and reduce waste. Also, students greatly appreciate the opportunity to interact directly with local business leaders as they practice a new skill and then present their findings to encourage business to move forward with recommendations.