UNBC has been recognized for having the top green engineering program in the province by Corporate Knight magazine.
College of Science and Management dean Dan Ryan said the philosophy of UNBC is to "live and breathe the environmental sustainability" but said the engineering program in particular is highly touted, thanks to its small class sizes in the early years and a special hands-on project at the end.
"Our students work in small groups with good faculty and take on these experiential projects that give them a real feeling for real life applications," Ryan said.
Run jointly with UBC, students spend the first two years in Prince George then head down to Vancouver for two years before returning to UNBC for the final semester-long project.
Among the projects that have been done in the past is evaluating the viability of storing snow and using it for cooling in the summer.
"The idea is you dig a big pit, you put in some heat exchange pipes and you take all the natural cold we have with snow, pile it up in this pit and cover it up with sawdust," Ryan said. "Then you evaluate, is that a positive return to the university from the environmental and financial point of view?"
This year, a bio-gas generator fueled by kitchen waste is one of the projects under consideration.
The program started off modestly - the first graduating class in 2007 had just seven students - but now UNBC sends more than 30 students down to Vancouver for the final two years of study. Ryan said UBC is only capable of taking on about 40 UNBC students, which means the program is getting close to capacity.
"We're getting to the point now where in the next few years we're going to have to start finding ways to cap it," he said. "Our growth is such that if it continues on that trajectory we're going start outstripping the ability for UBC to take on these students."
UNBC placed eighth on the national list, but was ahead of UBC (16th), Victoria (18th) and Simon Fraser (23rd) based on faculty support, student involvement and course work. UNBC was rewarded in particular for its student involvement, scoring 100 per cent in that category.
The University of Toronto topped the list, followed by Western University and Laval. Ryan said it was great to be recognized among the elite in the country.
"It's an absolute honour to be on that list," Ryan said. "When you look at some of the universities we're ranked with, they're top schools in the country and for us to be at the calibre in respect to this environmental program is absolutely fantastic."