TRU-ly Green

Thompson Rivers University aims to be carbon neutral by 2030

by Desiree Mannila

Thompson Rivers University Campus

Thompson Rivers University Campus | Credit: ©Desiree Mannila

Thompson Rivers University has been continuing their ambitious goals to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 through implementing new innovative technologies that reduce their carbon footprint.

Thompson Rivers University (TRU), founded in 1970, is primarily located in Kamloops, BC, with one other location in Williams Lake, BC. The institution has been well known for taking action in the fight against climate change. In an interview with Watershed Sentinel, Saaransh Bhardwaj, eco-club co-president, described the importance of implementing green initiatives on campus: “Sustainability is the heart and soul of every university. It creates a safe and clean environment that acts as an impetus for personal growth. Moreover, it radiates ecological awareness amongst the members of the university.” The eco-club, as described by Bhardwaj, is a “group of fun eco-conscious people hoping to make TRU and the world a better place.”

Bhardwaj explains that the club cooperates with the school’s Sustainability Office, “which encourages the involvement of the TRU community in sustainability projects.” Bhardwaj says the Sustainability Office promotes various sustainability initiatives on campus, including “eliminating single use plastic, conserving potable water, and striving for a carbon-neutral and net-zero energy campus.” Additionally, TRU has added eight electric vehicles for on-campus personnel, an electric car-charging port and a bike-share program that Bhardwaj says helps encourage students to decrease their use of vehicles and reduce transport-based emissions on campus.

TRU is described by Bhardwaj as “one of the pioneers when it comes to sustainability.” In 2018, the university not only gained a platinum rating, but highest overall rating from STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

In January 2022, TRU announced a partnership with BC Hydro and Vancouver-based company Creative Energy to design and implement a series of green energy systems to decrease the university’s carbon footprint even more. The Low Carbon District Energy System (LCDES) will be completed in phases, with the first phase expected to be running by 2024. The system will use power from BC Hydro to energize a two-stage air-and-water-source heat pump system. According to minutes posted by the Sustainability Office, Phase 1 is a “$2.2m project which is part of the BC Hydro Incentivized project through Clean BC.” (TRU, 2021)

This project is estimated to decrease TRU’s carbon emissions by 100,000 tonnes over 30 years. Bhardwaj calls this a “bold step” towards TRU’s ultimate goal of carbon-neutrality, and believes advances such as this will “help future students.”

Pa̱x̱a̱la, Desiree Mannila is a proud member of the Da’naxda’xw Nation. She is currently a participant in the Watershed Sentinel’s Indigenous Junior Reporter Mentorship Program.

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