TRU tackles carbon footprint

Thompson Rivers University has taken a hard look at its carbon footprint

By Dale Bass

Kamloops This Week

Thompson Rivers University has taken a hard look at its carbon footprint — and has plans to reduce it in coming years.

The university has reduced its building-energy consumption by 12 per cent since 2009 — at an estimated savings of $225,000 each year — but wants to see a greater reduction.

As part of its 85-page strategic sustainability plan released this week, TRU has set a goal of cutting its greenhouse-gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2016 and by 33 per cent by 2022.

It also wants to see a change in the way students, faculty and staff get to the campus.

In 2010, 45 per cent arrived as the single occupant in a vehicle, 25 per cent walked or biked, 17 per cent used a carpooling option and 13 per cent used transit.

The plan sets new goals to be in place by 2019, with a reduction in single-occupant vehicle travel to 30 per cent, an increase in transit to 30 per cent, 15 per cent coming through a carpool and 25 per cent walking or biking.

The report estimates the annual waste per- full-time-equivalent student to be 210 kilograms, generating a total waste of 1,640 tonnes. That area is also to be addressed in coming years.

That will include initiatives to minimize waste; divert materials from landfills or an incinerator through recycling, composting, reusing, donating or reselling; create zero-waste stations at ceremonies and events; replace paper hand towels in washrooms with electric hand dryers; and create a collection program that will expand composting to the Campus Activity Centre.

The report also discusses creating on-campus gardens, shifting to locally sourced foods and produce and creating environmentally friendly policies wherever possible.

Jim Gudjonson, the university’s director of environment and sustainability, said the plan was created with outcomes that are “achievable, measurable and time-bound.

“The plan is progressive and, what’s most important, is that we have campus-wide buy-in on this,” he said.

“It’s a ground-up and top-down plan and it has full support, which means we will have the support of faculty, staff and students.”

In announcing the new plan, Gudjonson’s department noted the movement toward increased sustainability has been triggered, in part, by changing student attitudes.

It pointed to a Princeton Review study that shows 61 pert cent of prospective students said an environmental commitment is one of the factors they will consider when choosing a post-secondary school.