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CNL aims for carbon neutral operations at Chalk River Laboratories by 2040

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has set an ambitious target to achieve carbon neutral operations at its Chalk River Laboratories campus in Eastern Ontario by the year 2040. This objective, unveiled in the 2023 ESG Report titled “A CNL Sustainability Performance Update,” represents a significant stride towards sustainable practices within the company.

The target is outlined in the 2023 ESG Report, A CNL Sustainability Performance Update, an annual document that tracks the company’s progress towards sustainable operations.

The roadmap towards carbon neutrality aligns with the environmental goals articulated by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) in its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy. CNL operates the Chalk River Laboratories on behalf of AECL and is working to slash emissions by approximately 90%, aiming for near-zero emissions. Any residual emissions will be offset strategically to achieve a balanced carbon footprint.

“At CNL, we recognize the long-lasting impact of our actions, necessitating responsible decisions in the modernization and operation of the Chalk River Laboratories site,” he remarked,” said Joe McBrearty, president and CEO of CNL. “The reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stands at the forefront of CNL’s sustainability efforts.”

The company has made significant progress, cutting GHG emissions by around 30% compared to 2005 levels, with a target of achieving a 40% reduction by 2025.

To realize its Carbon Neutral Strategy, CNL has implemented several key initiatives, including updated engineering standards and climate resilience planning for all construction projects and retrofits. Furthermore, energy efficiency enhancements, such as the adoption of electric heating and conservation measures, have been prioritized. The decommissioning of obsolete and inefficient buildings is also underway, contributing to emission reduction efforts.

Additionally, CNL has transitioned its vehicle fleet to electric power, further curbing emissions.

In a holistic approach to environmental stewardship, CNL has crafted a comprehensive forest management plan aimed at sustaining and replenishing the surrounding forests. This strategy leverages the natural capacity of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Moreover, CNL is exploring the integration of a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) at the Chalk River site, capitalizing on clean energy to augment carbon offset initiatives.

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