The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) and the Canada Coalition for Green Schools have announced that Dunbarton High School in Pickering, ON, is the winner of the inaugural CaGBC Greenest School in Canada competition.
Launched on Earth Day 2014, this annual competition seeks to find kindergarten to Grade 12 schools across the country that truly exemplify how sustainability can be woven into the infrastructure, culture and curriculum of a school.
Schools from both rural and urban areas across Canada entered submissions based on criteria that examined 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.
The CaGBC Greenest School jury, comprised of green building industry experts from across the country, determined that Dunbarton stood out from other submissions for its exemplary level of commitment to sustainability, with a number of impressive environmental awareness programs for students and staff, including:
- The creation of ‘bee condos’ to encourage pollination, local park rehabilitation efforts, rain barrel sales, and other outreach that was done to connect the students with the broader community.
- The coordination of organic waste collection with the local neighbours in order to circumvent having to send this waste to landfill (a green bin service is not currently available to the school directly).
- Involving the students in the auditing of energy and water use in the school, as a means of educating them about the importance of environmental impact.
- Offering an Atlantic salmon restoration program as a part of the curriculum, which provides students with first-hand experience in conservation and a unique learning opportunity.
The school will receive $2,000 in prize money to use toward a green activity and will be submitted as the official Canadian entry 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.
MacKenzie Smyth, a Dunbarton student who recently graduated and was one of the main club leaders over the past three years, says winning this competition validates all of the hard work they’ve done to green the school.
“This award is such an honor and a surprise,” Smyth says. “Our goal has always been working towards a sustainable environment. We are lucky to have a program where we are encouraged to think big and creatively and to follow through with our plans. This award will definitely help us continue with that thinking. It is very rewarding to see that we are a making difference and to see the willingness of the community to get involved.”
Runners up were Oak Lake Community School, an elementary school in Oak Lake, MB, and Claude Watson School for the Arts in Toronto, ON, also an elementary school, which were tied for second place, and Lord Beaverbrook High School in Calgary, AB, which was the second runner up. All of these schools proved a high level of commitment to sustainability and were commended by the jury for their environmental programming and education. These schools will receive a runner’s up certificate, and will be acknowledged on the CaGBC website. For more detailed information on each school, visit the competition webpage.
“I would like to congratulate Dunbarton High School on winning this inaugural Canadian competition, and to all of the school officials and organizations who took the time to submit their school for consideration this year,” says Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of the CaGBC. “The Canada Coalition for Green Schools was established to increase awareness of sustainability practices at schools across Canada. It is truly impressive to see how much is already being done to engage students and particularly, how sustainability has been made an integral part of the curriculum at Dunbarton High School.
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 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.
There is an official Green Apple Day of Service on Sept. 27, 2014, but a school can register an event for any day of the year. Those who submit receive a merit certificate for their school and are featured on both the CaGBC and U.S. Green Building Council’s websites. More information about green apple days can be found here.