UNBC named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers

Media Release
A person giving a tour in front of the Facilities Management building, a Passive House at UNBC's Prince George campus.
The Facilities Management Building is one of two certified Passive House buildings at UNBC, meaning it uses a fraction of the energy for heating and cooling compared with a conventional building design.

The University of Northern British Columbia continues to earn its place among the most sustainably focused employers in Canada for a 12th time, as it garners recognition in the 2024 Canada’s Greenest Employers competition.

UNBC is the only employer primarily based in northern British Columbia to obtain a spot on the Canada’s Greenest Employers list, which recognizes the employers that lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness.

“At UNBC, we strive to lead a sustainable future through the excellent education we offer our students, the groundbreaking research led by our faculty and through the partnerships we nurture with the communities we serve,” says UNBC President Dr. Geoff Payne. “We also demonstrate our commitment to sustainability through our actions at our campuses, including the award-winning Bioenergy Plant that reduces our greenhouse gas emissions, our Continuous Optimization program that has reduced our electricity consumption and the Green Fund that supports student- and employee-led sustainability initiatives.”

UNBC completed infrastructure projects aimed at reducing energy consumption and emissions. These include controls optimization for building systems, lighting upgrades, heating and cooling system upgrades, and the installation of a hybrid heat pump system at the Maintenance Building to reduce propane consumption.

Compared to 2007 baseline levels, UNBC’s Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 60 per cent. In addition, UNBC has achieved a 42 per cent reduction in electricity use, a 73 per cent reduction in natural gas consumption, and a 50 per cent reduction in utility costs compared to 2010 baseline levels.

“The Canada’s Greenest Employers award recognizes the involvement of UNBC’s students, faculty and staff in ensuring we are leaders in sustainability,” says UNBC Vice President Finance and Administration Rahim Somani. “From student research projects that turn into sustainability initiatives, to employees using their expertise to come up with exciting new sustainability initiatives, it takes a team effort to be Canada’s Green University.”

Recently, UNBC's Office of Sustainability organized an extensive 15-day event series leading into the annual Green Day celebration, showcasing more than 30 activities covering a diverse array of subjects related to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As a result of the series, a working group dedicated to Sustainable Labs was formed, and the event marked the first platinum certified event for a new Sustainable Events Certification program that draws inspiration from a similar initiative at McGill University.

Open to all employers based in Canada, the selection criteria includes:

  • the unique environmental initiatives and programs they have developed; 
  • the extent to which they have been successful in reducing the organization's own environmental footprint;
  • the degree to which their employees are involved in these programs and whether they contribute any unique skills; 
  • the extent to which these initiatives have become linked to the employer's public identity, attracting new employees and clients to the organization.

Earlier this year, UNBC was also named one of British Columbia's top employers.