RICHMOND, B.C. – A Lower Mainland school is the greenest in the country.
W.D. Ferris Elementary in Richmond, B.C. is the winner of the Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) Greenest School competition.
The school has conducted regular waste audits, resulting an 80 per cent improvement in waste diversion since 2007 as well as a 95 per cent reduction in food waste through, fermentation, vermicomposting and traditional composting projects as well as rescheduling of the lunch period. An upgraded boiler meant a 32 per cent reduction in natural gas use since 2013 and plug load electrical use has been reduced by two per cent in that same period.
As the winner of the 2019 Greenest School in Canada, W.D. Ferris Elementary will receive a $2,000 cash award to put toward a new or ongoing sustainability project.
“What we saw in this school is that it touched a whole bunch of areas of sustainability. There was ecological system restoration, waste management and butterfly pathways, but they took it a step further, introducing programs to kids such as a salmon restoration project and a shoreline clean up,” CaGBC vice-president of market engagement advocacy Akua Schatz said.
“We aren’t looking at certain levels of energy performance, for us it’s more about the metrics of engagement,” she added.
Schatz said while the CaGBC does recognize commercial buildings and other built forms, schools are a focus because of their future potential.
“This is where the next generation of green leaders come from. We want student bodies to get involved in sustainability in the classroom, and this is a great starting point. Kids also benefit from a greener environment, and more outdoor gardens, trees and butterfly pathways have health and learning implications. It’s overall a better environment for kids to learn,” Schatz said.
The runners up in the competition were the Career and Technology Centre at Central Memorial High School in Calgary, Alta. and the Westwood Community High School in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“Any school in Canada can enter and our applicants demonstrate that. It varies from new to old schools,” Schatz said.
Alberta requires that new schools are built to LEED standards, she added, and Alberta and B.C. both have sustainability requirements before a school project can begin. Old schools can also become more sustainable as seismic vulnerabilities are addressed.
“The big movement will be to retrofit schools not only to achieve seismic objectives, but once opened to seismic work we have the opportunity to address energy concerns as well,” Schatz said.
The awards are in their sixth year and are a part of World Green Building Week. A jury of green building experts from different sectors review applications from across Canada based on environmental education emphasis, programs based on conservation, school community initiatives and whether the school facilities affect the health of occupants.
“The Ferris school community is very honoured to be chosen as Canada’s Greenest School for 2019 by the Canada Green Building Council. We also want to acknowledge the hard work done by students and staff daily in schools across Canada to educate their communities about environmental stewardship. We encourage all schools to inspire green minded change in their communities,” W.D. Ferris Elementary principal Diane Steele said in a CaGBC statement.
Information on next year’s Greenest School competition is available on the CaGBC website, with applications opening in January 2020.