College gets $1.3 M to advance energy conservation and training

A $1.3 million funding injection will help Confederation College become a net-zero emissions facility, and support learning opportunities in renewable energy.

THUNDER BAY — Confederation College has received $1.3 million from the federal government for renewable energy projects, to help it become a net-zero facility, and to achieve curriculum goals.

The funding from the government’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways program was announced Friday by Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski on behalf of Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

The college is using on-campus renewable energy systems to host applied skills-based learning opportunities.

The new funding will support this as well as projects like the college’s Sustainability Roadmap Study, which focuses on energy topics including efficiency, renewables and electrification.

The results will be shared with community partners including Indigenous communities.

College President Kathleen Lynch said the funding will further the college’s efforts to become more energy-efficient while creating learning opportunities for students in renewable energy education.

“The funds are going to go into developing a plan for the college to continue our energy reduction activities. So far we’ve reduced our energy consumption by 40 per cent, and we’re on track to reduce it by 60 per cent by 2030 ,” Lynch said at a news conference Friday.

The federal government has set a national goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Lynch said she feels the college can achieve that.

“In addition, we’re going to be developing curriculum and opportunities for students to learn about renewable energy sources, and to be able to take that out into industry, municipalities, First Nations, and apply that knowledge in their careers.”

Besides the benefits for the environment, Lynch said there’s an important economic aspect.

“We are saving a quarter of a million dollars alone in heating our main campus building by using these different technologies to reduce our energy consumption, and we know that’s only going to grow over time. We’re really excited to share that information.”

Powlowski added that educating students on the intricacies of various forms of renewable energy will ultimately benefit entire communities.

“It’s certainly desirable for communities to adopt green forms of energy. People have to have the technical knowledge of how to use those things. A big component of this funding is helping to provide that know-how.”

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