Has Cape Breton University Achieved a Global First on Climate Change (Just in Time for COP21)?

Today global leaders assemble in Le Bourget near Paris hoping to achieve “a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C”.

At the 21st meeting of the ‘Conference of the Parties’ to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), Canada will be represented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several premiers, including Rachel Notley of Alberta who just announced a game-changing climate change strategy for that province.

Acts of leadership such as those of Premier Notley are now required by all institutions in Canada. As Dr David Wheeler, President and Vice-Chancellor of Cape Breton University says, “It now behoves all Canadian provinces, businesses and social institutions to also raise their game as part of a new narrative for the country.  That includes Cape Breton University.”

In this context Cape Breton University believes it may be on the cusp of achieving a North American first – and possibly a global first – as a university that will soon completely offset all of its direct CO2 emissions.

In January, CBU will complete construction and commissioning of a three turbine 5.4 MW windfarm across from the campus that will generate an estimated 16,200 MWh of electricity annually, equivalent to a saving of 15,000 tonnes equivalent of CO2.  Total emissions from all energy sources consumed on the campus are estimated to be just 8,000 tonnes equivalent of CO2.

Nearly 800 tonnes equivalent of CO2 have also been saved through energy efficiency measures on the campus since 2013.

“Cape Breton University has made significant strides in reducing its carbon footprint, and we applaud CBU’s commitment to – and this investment in – sustainability,” said Energy Minister Michel Samson.


CBU’s principal partners on the wind project were Natural Forces (wind developer), Enercon (turbine suppliers), RBC (financing), Nova Scotia Power Inc (grid connections and feed in tariff).  A Community Feed in Tariff was awarded by the Province of Nova Scotia.  CBU’s partner on energy efficiency is Efficiency Nova Scotia.

CBU’s annual electricity, oil, propane and wood emissions are approximately 6400, 840, 75 and 700 tonnes equivalent CO2 respectively.

Working with Efficiency Nova Scotia, CBU has actively pursued greenhouse gas (GHG) reducing energy efficiency projects in recent years.  These projects include lighting upgrades, energy efficient ventilation systems, campus wide sub-metering, low-emissivity ceilings, heat recovery systems from compressors and an energy efficient water treatment system. Total annual savings are estimated at more than 1400 MWh.

“Energy efficiency is a critical part of any greenhouse gas reduction strategy,” says Stephen MacDonald EfficiencyOne’s Chief Executive Officer. “EfficiencyOne is proud to support and partner with leading organizations like CBU in ongoing initiatives to reduce their energy use – and their carbon footprint.”


About Cape Breton University

Cape Breton University is a multicultural, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial academic institution committed to teaching excellence, world changing research and deep engagement with the social, economic, environmental and cultural aspirations of every community and individual we serve.

CBU programs relevant to sustainability education and sustainable resource management (including sustainable energy) include:

Master of Education in Sustainability, Creativity and Innovation

Bachelor of Education

MBA Community Economic Development

Bachelor of Engineering Technology

Bachelor of Engineering Technology – Environmental Studies

Bachelor of Science (Chemistry)

Bachelor of Arts (Political Science)

Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment