CaGBC announces 2015 Greenest Schools in Canada

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) and the Canada Coalition for Green Schools have announced the winners of the second-annual CaGBC Greenest School in Canada competition: St. Marguerite d’Youville Elementary School in Hamilton, ON, and Queen Elizabeth High School in Edmonton, AB.

Launched in 2014, this annual competition seeks to showcase kindergarten to Grade 12 schools across the country that exemplify how sustainability can be woven into the infrastructure, culture and curriculum of a school. Schools from both rural and urban areas across Canada enter submissions based on criteria that examine: the schools’ efficient use of resources and reduced environmental impact; enhanced health and learning among students, teachers and staff; and emphasis on sustainability and resource-conservation education.

This year the CaGBC Greenest School jury, comprised of green building industry experts from across the country, were so impressed with the submissions that they were unable to choose just one winner. They determined that both St. Marguerite and Queen Elizabeth stood out from other submissions for their exemplary commitment to sustainability and impressive environmental awareness programs for students and staff.

Highlights of St. Marguerite’s submission include:

  • Environmental stewardship activities are student-driven and student voice is an important success criterion in the program, with energy and waste conservation as a main goal;
  • Has reduced waste by 90 per cent through the implementation of major recycling and composting programs, as well as daily litterless lunches and banning of plastic water bottles;
  • The school holds ‘Health EcoFairs’ where environmental and health community leader set up booths and promote best practices and healthy lifestyles to students, families and the community;
  • Energy consumption is reduced through turning off un-needed lighting and electrical devices during the day; student monitors, called ‘Busters’, walk around the school on the look-out for unnecessary energy use.

Highlights of Queen Elizabeth’s submission include:

  • Main educational component, called INNOVATE, is a hands-on project-based program that bridges the different curriculums, connects to the greater community, and provides research and experimental opportunities to students who are focused on solving real world problems of sustainable development;
  • Students have twice presented at the annual COP UN Climate Change Conferences to youth delegates: in Doha, Qatar (2012), and Lima, Peru (2014);
  • Installed Smart Meters to measure energy consumption in real-time, and light sensors to assess potential for natural daylighting;
  • Monitored C02 levels in the school and noticed levels rise throughout the day, so the school incorporated planter boxes, green walls and aquaponics systems into classrooms to address and manage the increase.

As the winners of the 2015 Greenest School in Canada competition, both St. Marguerite and Queen Elizabeth will receive $2,000 in prize money to use for a green activity and will be submitted as the official Canadian entries into the Greenest School on Earth competition, awarded annually by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. Winners of the international competition also receive an additional $1,000 to put toward a new or ongoing sustainability project.

The runners up of the 2015 Greenest School in Canada competition were:

All of these schools proved a high level of commitment to sustainability and were commended by the jury for their environmental programming and education. They will receive a runners’ up certificate, and are acknowledged on the CaGBC website. For more detailed information on each school, visit the competition webpage now.

This competition is the second in series of initiatives being launched by the CaGBC and the Canada Coalition for Green Schools. The other initiative, called the Green Apple Day of Service Program, encourages parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations to transform all schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local projects and events.

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