Announcing the winners of CaGBC’s first-annual Greenest School in Canada competition

The CaGBC and the Canadian Coalition for Green Schools are very happy to announce Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ontario, as the first-ever winner of the Greenest School in Canada competition.

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.

Greenest School in Canada 2014 – Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ontario

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:

  • A 40-seat outdoor classroom that is used regularly by teachers. This classroom is a part of a seven year campus biodiversity program which also included the planting of 70 shade trees (22 different native species) in locations targeted to provide shade for buildings, physical education spaces and outdoor walkways.
  • The creation of ‘bee condos’ to encourage pollination, local park rehabilitation efforts, rain barrel sales, and other outreach that connects 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.
  • An Atlantic salmon restoration program, where students raise 100 fish from eggs, participate in habitat restoration and fish release, and research the history and importance of Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon.

Second place (tie): Claude Watson School for the Arts (elementary), Toronto, Ontario

This Platinum EcoSchool does detailed data tracking to measure its water and energy use on the site, and provides its students with numerous indoor and outdoor learning environments that emphasize daylight, and encourage environmental awareness. The jury commended the school for programs with environment-themed units, like a dance, music and drama black light puppet presentation on the rain forest and coral reefs.

The green space surrounding the school is very important at Claude Watson. This year the students completed a new butterfly garden, and with the help of the school board, completed a large scale erosion project in the playing field. All members of the school community are encouraged to reduce their waste impact through garbage and recycling sorting along with using a compost program contributes to the many gardens around the school.

Second place (tie): Oak Lake Community School in Oak Lake (elementary), Manitoba

The jury found that Oak Lake had an impressive range of environmental activities and learning opportunities for students at an elementary level. Educators at the school emphasize health in their curriculum, including holding ‘walking to school’ days, and local food adoption and sampling.

Being in a rural community, the students are encouraged to learn lessons from their surroundings, including skills that have been passed down from one generation to another. The town elders work alongside the youth, teaching them to become environmental stewards and have respect for the land. These newly acquired skills have led to employment for students through local programs such as Eco-Warriors and the community’s market garden.

Third place: Lord Beaverbrook High School in Calgary, Alberta

Lord Beaverbrook has a large student body of over 1800, and impressed the jury with its efforts to ensure that sustainability is a big part of what these students see and learn each day. The school’s green activities include water conservation efforts and measurement, as well as an electricity consumption program, and an ecological footprint calculator pilot that teach students about their daily impact and how to monitor it.

The living wall in the school’s foyer is their pride and joy. Designed by the environmental ecology club which is student-run, it includes 374 spider, snake, prayer and Nephthytis plants in troughs that cover 100 square feet of the wall.