Three Prince George businesses have officially achieved carbon neutrality again this year.
Thanks to the Chamber Carbon Action Plan, Northern Lights Estates Winery has achieved carbon neutrality for the third-year-in-a-row, while both Timberline Footfitters and Prince George Driving For Life Academy have achieved carbon neutrality for the second-year-in-a-row.
Launched in 2015, the Chamber Carbon Action Plan facilitates local business in becoming carbon neutral or carbon reduced by working with University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) students.
It was formerly known as the Prince George Chamber Carbon Reduction Project for Business but was rebranded to the much catchier Chamber Carbon Action Plan.
Fifty free carbon footprint analysis have been completed since the program launched, and 13 of those were completed this year alone. The carbon footprint analyses are created by UNBC students from a carbon energy management class as per internationally recognized standards.
The students are paired up with a business and then analyze data from things like utility and shipping bills and then make operational recommendations based on that data.
“We’ve had so far 46 local business participate. We’ve had 50 carbon footprints done. We have over 30 students impacted,” explained Barbara Otter, grants administrator for the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, during this morning's (Sept. 25) announcement.
Each year, the chamber also hosts an intern to do further carbon analysis work with local businesses.
“This green university we have just up the hill is able to further develop these young students and these young minds into the ways of the business world,” said Otter, adding that the businesses also benefit.
“They have a third party making a neutral recommendation to them and the businesses can make decisions they want to make.”
Hannah Renaud, who is in her fourth year of her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental and Sustainability degree, took the carbon energy management class last winter.
“It’s a unique course that allows students like myself to develop professional skillsets before graduating,” said Renaud, who also worked as the carbon intern for the Chamber this summer.
“This course allowed me to get out of my comfort zone, find new skills and the confidence I didn’t have before. The skills I have learned can be taken with me and used in future job opportunities and everyday life.”
Representatives from each business who achieved carbon neutrality this year received a letter written from Mayor Lyn Hall today - which is also, coincidingly, National Tree Day.
Earlier in the morning, four trees were planted in their honour at Duchess Community Park – one for each business and one for the future of the Chamber Carbon Action Plan.
“I’d like to thank these businesses for being leaders in environmentalism and carbon neutrality in Prince George and setting precedents for similar businesses throughout British Columbia,” said Renaud.
Andrea Mallet, a representative from Timberline Footfitters says the program has made everyone on staff stop and think.
“I think it’s a really important program just form the point of view of just talking the time to stop and think about how we are impacting what our carbon footprint looks like,” said Mallet. “The data was very important to look at where we were last year compared to this year and how we will move forward.”
The Chamber Carbon Action Plan is partnered with UNBC and supported by CN, the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, and B.C. Hydro.