The Global Coalition for Green Schools, an initiative of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, today announced the Greenest School on Earth for 2015: Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ontario, Canada.
Greenest School on Earth is an annual competition intended to show how sustainability can be woven into the infrastructure, culture, and curriculum of a K-12 school. The Center for Green Schools defines a green school as one with zero environmental impact (including energy, water, waste, and carbon), a positive impact on occupant health and performance, and 100 percent environmentally literate graduates.
“The Greenest School on Earth recognition goes to the school that is defining what it means to live, breathe, and teach whole-school sustainability,” Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools, said. “Dunbarton High School is an excellent example of a school that engages its students at every turn, placing them in the driver’s seat and empowering them to improve their environment inside and out. We are pleased to recognize Dunbarton’s efforts to improve their community, enhance the biodiversity of the region, and elevate young minds to a higher order of thinking about sustainable practices.”
Over the last five years, new energy-efficient windows, insulation, and lower-wattage lighting have been installed at Dunbarton, which was built in the 1960s. The school offers a specialist high skills major in environment and engages students through coursework and extracurricular activities related to the natural surroundings. The school features an outdoor classroom for 40, a 500-sq-m pollinator garden, and a rooftop solar water heater. Students are given stainless-steel water bottles and involved in projects such as organic waste removal and the Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program.
“It is a great gift for us to be in this community and have the ability to provide students with so many fantastic opportunities related to sustainability,” David Gordon, instructor at Dunbarton, said. “In Pickering, we receive nothing but support for our sustainability initiatives from the board, Pickering City, local businesses, parents, universities, and NGOs. They all provide our students with opportunities to deepen their understanding of sustainable practices and with the chance to take action to make Pickering and Dunbarton High School demonstrably more sustainable. This is what the world needs to adapt to a changing future: young people prepared to take action in a supportive community.”
Thomas Mueller, president and chief executive officer of the Canada Green Building Council, added: “Dunbarton is an exceptional example of a school that recognizes and integrates sustainability into education and operations. Changes were made to the old building to reduce carbon emissions and provide a healthier indoor environment for staff and students, their curriculum emphasizes the value of protecting and restoring ecosystems and provides students with hands-on experience, and their community engagement brings people together to take action with a positive impact on the environment.”
The Greenest School on Earth designation includes a $1,000 award to be used for a sustainability initiative. Dunbarton plans to use its award to develop a garden and construct 10 additional bee condominiums it will share with the local community.
For more information about the Greenest School on Earth competition, go to http://centerforgreenschools.org/greenestschool.