W. D. Ferris Elementary School

2019 Greenest School in Canada:
W. D. Ferris Elementary, Richmond BC


Demonstrating a commitment towards sustainability and making their communities greener, these schools are nurturing the next generation of green building leaders.

First Place
W. D. Ferris Elementary School (Richmond, BC)

Second Place
The Career & Technology Centre, Central Memorial High School (Calgary, AB)

Third Place
Westwood Community High School (Fort McMurray, AB)

First Place Winner


W.D. Ferris Elementary School in Richmond, BC

W. D. Ferris Elementary School is a thriving community of learners. Students from Kindergarten to Grade 7 live by the school’s H.E.A.R.T. motto which also informs the school’s approach to sustainability

 Saving Energy

As part of a learning strategy, students at Ferris Elementary conduct regular audits to help them identify issues and find solutions. They also launched seasonal campaigns to help change energy use behaviours. As a result, the school has seen a two per cent reduction in electricity use since 2013--despite adding to the plug load.

To further realize energy savings, the school invested in a recent boiler upgrade, achieving a 32 per cent reduction in natural gas use since 2013. Automated energy control systems are used to monitor temperature changes, and the use of daylight is prominent throughout the school.

 Decreasing Waste & Water Use

A six-bin waste system helped Ferris achieve 80 per cent waste diversion since 2007. The school has partnered with the City of Richmond on a flexible packaging pilot project and is working with its hot lunch provider to address single use plastics. By removing vending machines and recycling 250,000 beverage containers, the school funded two water bottle refilling stations and has achieved a five per cent reduction in water use.

To reduce food waste, the school reversed the lunch schedule, so students play before eating. This made the students more likely to eat their lunch, contributing to a 95 per cent reduction in food waste.

 Improving Transportation

Ferris Elementary encourages active transportation to and from the school with walk-to-school and learn-to-bike programs. To limit traffic around the school and encourage students and staff to walk more, the school closed the drop-off loop to traffic—resulting in improved safety for all.

 Enriching the Human Experience

The school focuses on air quality and cleanliness, with the use of Ph neutral cleaners and minimal carpet use. Classrooms are scent-free, with low VOC paints and furnishings. Instead of chalk, they use whiteboards and classroom air filters are replaced monthly. For students with severe allergies, HEPA filters are used.

 Benefiting the Community

W.D. Ferris Elementary is a welcoming place for the community, with outdoor grass fields that are used as multi-use spaces. In the community, classes have been involved in the Great Canadian Shoreline cleanup since 2007 and they regularly host district-wide ECO-Cafés, where green leaders meet to share successes and challenges. In this way, Ferris Elementary gives back to the community by encouraging others to reduce their ecological footprint.

WD Ferris Greenest School Video

“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 on a daily basis in schools across Canada to educate their communities about environmental stewardship. We encourage all schools to inspire green minded change in their communities.” Diane Steele, Principal


Second Place

Career and Technology Centre at Central Memorial High School, Calgary AB

The Career and Technology Center at Central Memorial High School provides students with access to a rigorous academic and technical curriculum in preparation for high-skill, high-demand occupations. Among the courses offered is Energy and Environment Innovation, which helps prepare students for jobs in fields related to energy, climate change, urban agriculture, conservation, sustainable architecture and water and waste management.

The EEI program attracts students from across the province. Programs include hands-on projects that reflects the school’s focus on sustainability. For example, the students are working with the school board to reduce electricity usage by upgrading lighting systems. The results of their efforts will impact 32 schools within the board.

Other programs have also been impacted, with the Cosmetology program earning a Green Circle Salon certification, and the Media Arts class taking on environmental issues in its films. The Pre-Engineering/Computer Programming class is collaborating with the Construction and EEI programs to convert a shipping container into an indoor community garden.

Sustainable and green influences are evident throughout the school, with green spaces, outdoor gardens and more. The EEI lab features aquaponics, indoor grow spaces, student art and upcycled live edge furniture with flooring made of recycled fish nets.

“Students and staff love coming to the CTC because of its many indoor garden features, its beautiful courtyard and its community garden space with edible landscape. The impact that this biophilic design has on everyone is impressive. Since we started these practices, we have noticed an increase in feelings of ‘belonging’ according to our students.” Adam Robb, Teacher

Third Place Winner

Westwood Community High School in Fort McMurray, AB

Seven years ago, Westwood Community High School started an environmental club that has put the school on a path of sustainability guided by net zero principles. An early pioneer, the school was among the first in the city to launch green initiatives such as solar panels, greenhouses, and rainwater harvesting.

Among Westwood’s achievements is a strong focus on sustainable food production through its Farm-to-Table program. Produce for the program is provided by two geodesic dome greenhouses that feature an irrigation system sourced from solar power and collected rainwater, with no dependence on municipal water.

Solar also powers the school’s water bottle filling stations and aquaponics system which helps students learn urban farming techniques while benefiting from an adjoining living wall. The school’s physical building harnesses daylight to brighten classrooms and introduces biophilic design elements which have a positive effect on students and staff.

Westwood reduces its waste through composting, waste diversion, recycling, and an innovative program that transforms plastic waste into useable products using 3D printers.

Always striving to do more and share their expertise with the wider community, Westwood will launch the city’s first Energy and Environmental Science optional course for Grades 7–9 and 10–12 next year.

“A green school is one that actively creates a healthy learning environment while diverting waste, saving energy and instilling a sustainable lifestyle in its students. Our environmental projects teach our students how to lower the school’s carbon footprint and gives them the tools to mentor younger students to do the same.” Johnny Dulku, Teacher and Green Initiative Club Supervisor