Climate Action Commitment

Last updated – February 2024

Cape Breton University (CBU) acknowledges its responsibility toward, and recognizes significant opportunity in, climate change mitigation. In addition to offering academic sustainability programs, supporting sustainability research, and providing a forum for the sharing of ideas and resources in the community and beyond, CBU has made significant strides in reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions.

  • CBU initiated a landmark project in 2011 with the construction of the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (VC), showcasing CBU’s dedication to sustainable facilities and supporting sustainability-related research. The VC provides a platform for accelerating cutting-edge clean technology by providing technical expertise and access to large-scale pilot facilities, as well as a network of partners locally, nationally, and globally.
  • In January 2016, CBU opened a 6.9MW wind farm, establishing a new revenue stream for the university by selling energy to Nova Scotia Power under the province’s Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) program, thereby supporting in the effort to green the Nova Scotian grid. The CBU Wind Farm currently provides 180% more renewable electricity to the community through the grid than is consumed by CBU facilities.
  • Under the Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Pilot Program, CBU completed a 150kW photovoltaic installation on the roof of the Canada Games Complex in 2020. At the time, this was the largest solar installation on Cape Breton Island.
  • CBU’s strategic research plan supports multidisciplinary sustainability research through collaborative research networks like Ecology, Environment & Sustainability. CBU is also proud to offer a diverse array of academic sustainability programs. All schools at CBU offer sustainability-related academic programs, with the exception of the School of Nursing.
  • In 2023, CBU reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 31.5% of 2005 levels. Further, over the past 15 years, CBU has reduced overall energy consumption, while simultaneously increasing conditioned space by 10%. CBU’s energy-use-intensity (EUI) has decreased from 0.99 GJ/m2 in 2005 to 0.86 GJ/m2 in 2023.

In line with provincial, national, and global initiatives, CBU:

  • aims to meet or exceed the Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions reductions established in the Nova Scotia Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act, which includes a 53% GHG emissions reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050;
  • commits to reviewing these plans and targets on a three-year cycle to ensure they remain up-to-date and reflect the latest provincial, national, and global initiatives and advances in technology; and
  • endeavours to quantify and assess the impact of Scope 3 emissions (indirect emissions that occur in the value chain as we interact with the broader community and economy) and act to minimize these emissions.

To achieve this ambitious goal, CBU has adopted the following key strategies:

  • CBU is committed to maximizing energy conservation and embodied carbon reduction through the continued implementation of comprehensive energy conservation projects and the adoption of the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building Standard in the design philosophy for new developments.
  • CBU is committed to reducing energy requirements through the continued development of on-site renewable generation. CBU intends to include roof top photovoltaic installations on both the medical sciences building and the Centre for Discovery and Innovation.
  • CBU aims to procure off-site renewable electricity to offset the Scope 2 emissions associated with Nova Scotia grid-source electricity. Through the procurement of 100% renewable electricity, CBU will reduce GHG Emissions by 62%, exceeding provincial targets for 2030.
  • CBU will develop a comprehensive decarbonization roadmap. This roadmap will yield specific emissions reduction strategies to minimize the remaining Scope 1 GHG emissions resulting from on-site combustion. This roadmap will serve as a guide for future decision-making regarding capital developments and major renovations.
  • CBU intends to adopt the framework of the AASHE STARS Program. The STARS Program will ensure CBU remains focused on the broader aspects of sustainability. Climate change mitigation and adaptation planning is a fundamental pillar of CBU’s broader sustainability planning structured through AASHE’s STARS framework.