CN's Carbon Reduction Project for Business is now in its third year and UNBC student Arctica Cunningham, the newest project intern, is eager to get the job done.
"I started this project in April and I'm due to complete it in March," Cunningham says.
"It's been such a wonderful experience so far and I'm learning so much."
The partnership between the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, UNBC and CN allows local businesses to continue to benefit from working with UNBC students while UNBC offers students the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience. The chamber is helping to enrich local businesses by providing insight into the benefits of carbon footprint reduction.
For Cunningham, the opportunity would not have been made possible without the support of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions which is helping fund the project as she calculates carbon footprint analyses at Powder King Mountain Resort in Mackenzie and at the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council in Prince George.
"This is such a cool partnership between the chamber as they hook up businesses with educational opportunities at UNBC," Cunningham says.
"I've taken carbon management previously so as a student, I find it so valuable to take what I've learned and use the experience to help facilitate these partnerships."
The chamber further facilitates business participants' desire to reduce their carbon footprints or even become carbon neutral through summer interns, according to Barbara Otter, project coordinator for the Prince George Chamber of Commerce.
"We are pleased to bring another project to local businesses to help them improve their business and we can also give students educational opportunities to improve their skills with these local voluntary businesses," she said.
CN, UNBC and the Prince George Chamber of Commerce have committed to fund the program until 2019.
UNBC instructor Kyrke Gaudreau looks forward to continuing the project with the course, "Carbon Management: Sustainable Business in a Carbon-Constrained World."
The course offers students the opportunity to apply theory to practice as they assist business owners to improve their local air quality by providing a free carbon footprint analysis.
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced directly and indirectly to support human activities.
They are produced through fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, electricity generation, agricultural practices and commercial/residential activities.
Interns offer businesses advice on how to reduce operational costs, become more energy efficient, recommendations for emission reductions and how to increase recycling and reduce waste.
"When we were developing this course, we recognized the importance of being a part of our community," Gaudreau said.
"We also wanted our students to have hands-on learning. Being teamed up with a business, they see the challenges and the opportunities they wouldn't normally see in the classroom. And we've also had the opportunity to keep raising awareness about climate change."
Cunningham plans to complete her undergraduate degree in environmental studies and political science once her internship is up.
"This is such a unique opportunity to apply the skills you learn in class and then gain connections with businesses in the community," Cunningham says.
"Everyone has been so supportive. And it feels so wonderful to do something for the community. These businesses want something done environmentally so to help them with this, it's such an opportunity."