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Initiatives Print E-mail
 

Queen Elizabeth High School Goes Solar

 

Queen Elizabeth has become the first Edmonton Public school to integrate a source of renewable energy into its building.  The five photovoltaic (PV) modules will generate up to 1.2 kilo-watts of energy.  Basically, when the photovoltaic panels are operating at their maximum on a sunny day, there is enough energy being created to power as many as 4 computers at once. 

 

The solar array was designed by local engineering firm Howell-Mayhew to allow students to observe the various factors that affect photovoltaic output such as the angle of the sun and the direction that each module faces.  Students in the school can observe the output of the array on the internet.  The real gain is the access to learning about new technology and how we can make changes to the way we live and work so that we can reduce our environmental footprint. The site allows us to build capacity to begin switching over our dependency to cleaner, renewable sources of energy.

 

For Queen Elizabeth staff and students this is only the first step towards reducing their environmental impact at their school.  Next steps will be looking at other projects which will introduce more  energy conservation measures in the school and allow students to learn how to minimize their resource consumption and dependency.

Alternative and Renewable Energy

Edmonton Public Schools is committed to reducing energy consumption through conservation and efficiency and understands the importance of investigating renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and geothermal power. In all modernization projects, Edmonton Public Schools challenges designers to use as much sustainable design as can be economically supported. The use of alternative and renewable energy sources is considered in any new school design and construction undertaken by Edmonton Public Schools.

Alternative energy sources remain a focus for educational purposes within the district.  Solar panels have been designed and implemented at Queen Elizabeth, Riverdale, Hillview and Kate Chegwin schools.  Solar walls have also been investigated and will be installed in one or possibly two district schools through the Energy Performance Contract.

Updates will be made available online as these projects continue.


Earth Day Initiatives

As a means of increasing awareness about energy conservation, the EnviroMatters Office encourages all Edmonton Public Schools and District departments to participate in the annual Earth Day "Lights Out" Challenge.  Staff and students are asked to turn off as many lights and electrical devices as is safe and practical for at least one hour on Earth Day. Schools and departments calculate their environmental savings and the results are posted on the EnviroMatters website.

Also, the City of Edmonton's School Yard Cleanup program has partnered with EnviroMatters to provide the opportunity for schools to get involved with another Earth Day activity. Schools can register their participation at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and receive free garbage bags for the cleanup of their school yard and/or community. Schools registering have the opportunity to win some great prizes!

To register your school, class, or department for either of the above events, just send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for instructions on how to participate.


Energy and Utility Conservation

The district has an Energy Performance Contract is in place with Ameresco Canada Inc. to provide energy efficient retrofits and asset upgrades of schools and buildings, including; design, labor and materials, project management, construction, commissioning, and training. The retrofit will be paid off by utility and maintenance savings within 20 years.

Since 1982 the district has been replacing, retrofitting, and eliminating older lighting systems with energy efficient ones. Daylight harvesting is a focus of all new building designs and is encouraged in existing spaces where there is adequate access to daylight. 

Facilities Services also conducts utility monitoring, benchmarking and verification projects, designed to provide up to date status of utility costs and building performance (environmental footprint and efficiency) information to central and school decision units. This provides a proactive approach with simple reporting tools that will monitor and report on utility use.  Baseline usage levels are established and reports are generated to include district and site level data on an annual and monthly basis. This information allows the district to successfully manage and improve on energy conservation initiatives.


Environmental Advisory Committee

In 2012, the EnviroMatters office created the Edmonton Public Schools Environmental Advisory Committee, allowing representatives from various departments to discuss environmental concerns and provide advice on existing and proposed sustainable program development.  The committee consists of staff from Facilities Services, Facilities Maintenance, Purchasing and Contract Services, Technology Services as well as representatives from district schools.

The EnviroMatters Office also holds a position on the City of Edmonton Environmental Advisory Committee, which coordinates strategic advice and expertise from the community and the City of Edmonton for the continuing development of The Way We Green (the City's environmental strategic plan) and environmental issues as they arise.


Environmental Education

The EnviroMatters Office has worked to create environmental educational events such as the Student Environmental Symposium in 2010, which was open to students from across the district and the Youth Environmental Stewardship Conference in 2011 that brought students together from across the province. These types of activities allow for an open discussion of ideas and give both students and staff access to the latest initiatives and technologies available to facilitate sustainability in schools.

In 2015 the EnviroMatters Office joined the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Green School Committee to help establish and lead a network of green schools within Alberta and work to develop an annual Green School Summit in Alberta for leaders of all ages interested in Green Schools and Communities.

For more information on upcoming jount conferences, contact Maegan Lukian in the EnviroMatters Office or visit the Alberta Chapter of the CaGBC.


Environmental Reporting

Edmonton Public Schools waste, recycling and utility monitoring project is designed to provide up to date status of waste diversion rates, utility costs and building performance (environmental footprint & efficiency) information to central and school decision units.  These systems provide a proactive approach with simple reporting tools that monitor and report on waste diversion rates and utility use. Baseline usage levels are established and reports are generated to include district and site level data on an annual and monthly basis.

Since 2008, the EnviroMatters Office has been reporting on the district's environmental footprint and making it available online for staff, students and the public to view.  The EnviroMatters Office has recently partnered with a carbon and sustainability consulting firm to report on the District’s environmental and CO2 footprint on an annual basis.  Once completed, each annual summary report will be available to view on the EnviroMatters home page.


Green Cleaning Committee

At Edmonton Public Schools, protecting the health of our staff and students without harming the environment is a priority. The District has switched to chemicals, processes and equipment proven to have a reduced impact on both the indoor and outdoor environment, in an effort to commit to the health of students and staff, as well as the planet.

The committee provides leadership for this initiative which includes the standardization of custodial chemical purchasing and chemical management practices. The committee worked to establish standards and define criteria for green cleaning products. The result was a number of approved and environmentally safe products that are now used within all district sites by district staff.


Integrated Pest Management

District Grounds crews are working within the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy and procedures developed and used by the City of Edmonton. The IPM program is used on district sports fields that the City of Edmonton maintains and these procedures include the basic guidelines that chemical products are only used as the last solution when other methods have been tried. District sites have the opportunity to opt-out of herbicide use on school property and under the City of Edmonton Integrated Pest Management program, there are also restrictions on when and where pesticides can be applied around a school site.

Since 2012, Edmonton Public Schools has stopped the use of non-essential pesticides on school property that the district maintains, which includes the school building envelope or approximately 10 meters around the school.


Operations and LEED Certifications

Four years ago Alberta adopted the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard for all new schools.  This started with the Alberta Schools Alternative Procurement (ASAP) Phase I project and the construction of 18 LEED silver schools in Edmonton and Calgary, using a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model. LEED silver schools provide a healthier learning and working environment through use of natural light, improved air quality, in addition to being more energy-efficient and more cost effective to operate. The District’s existing green cleaning products and numerous recycling programs are also LEED requirements that complement the ASAP schools.

ASAP Phase II features 14 new schools in the Edmonton and Calgary regions, to be built to the minimum LEED silver standard.  This standard accommodates a range of green building strategies, such as; energy-efficient lighting, lighting controls, occupancy sensors, high-efficiency boilers, heat recovery displacement ventilation and the use of select building materials such as wood and concrete.

Lillian Osborne High School was Edmonton Public Schools’ first LEED building to officially receive the Silver designation; this school was not part of the P3 project, it was completed with the consultant and general contractor working directly for Edmonton Public Schools. Michael Strembitsky, Major-General Griesbach, Bessie Nichols, Elizabeth Finch, A. Blair McPherson and Johnny Bright schools have all received LEED Gold designations, with Esther Starkman, Florence Hallock and Dr. Donald Massey schools each receiving LEED Silver designations.


Sustainable Purchasing Policies

As of March 24, 2009, Edmonton Public Schools has refined its purchasing policy to make environmental sustainability an important factor in the consideration of any product purchased.  To view the purchasing policy you can click on the following link.  District Administration policies strive to ensure that business is conducted with outside agencies that comply with good social, ethical and behavior practices during the manufacturing process and that can demonstrate environmental responsibility through recognized certification standards within the industry.

Purchasing and Contract Services also manages a Site Asset Management System (SAMS), which allows district schools and departments to notify PCS of any furniture items or related goods that are no longer in use. Useable items in good condition will be posted for sale on the SAMS website for other district schools and departments to have the opportunity to obtain. Items will also be posted to the External Surplus website and made available for personal purchase by students, community leagues, daycares and non-profit organizations in the area. PCS is also making use of online local classifieds and government surplus auction sites in an effort to make any remaining surplus items available to the general public for reuse.

You can learn more about the EPS Purchasing and Contract Services' sustainable and ethical standards by clicking the following link.


Transportation and Idle-Free Initiatives

Edmonton Public Schools is moving toward more sustainable transportation systems as an important factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. The Student Transportation Department works to create the most efficient routes possible, through the use of GPS technology and joint initiatives with other school boards to consolidate yellow bus transportation services.

The Planning Department actively supports the School Travel Planning Initiative, which encourages sustainable travel modes and increase travel awareness for schools in consultation with SHAPE (Safe Healthy Active People Everywhere).  The District also has a long history of developing all school and administration sites to accommodate bicycle racks, in an effort to make them bicycle friendly and to promote alternate forms of transportation.

Alberta Environment and Edmonton Public Schools partnered to introduce an official Idle-Free pilot program to elementary schools, where students are involved in learning about the effects that vehicle idling may have on their health and environment. This program was passed as a Bylaw throughout the district in 2013 and No-Idling Zone signs were placed around the main entrances of elementary schools. These areas restrict stationary vehicles to running for five minutes each half hour and it does not apply to taxis, buses or emergency vehicles.


Waste Diversion and Recycling

The EnviroMatters Office is steadily increasing waste diversion goals by managing and improving programs focused on reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting district waste.  These efforts provide savings on landfill and hauling service fees as well as engaging district schools with a marked sustainability goal.

The Edmonton Public Schools Environmental policy, EO.BP, has led to the development of numerous recycling programs, with district wide procedures in place for:

  • Co-mingled recycling of paper, cardboard, shredded paper glass, plastics & light metals
  • Beverage container recycling
  • Electronics, printer and toner cartridge recycling
  • Battery and wire recycling
  • Organic waste recycling
  • Leaf and yard waste composting
  • Hazardous waste and used oil recycling
  • Paint and paint related material recycling
  • Fluorescent tube and lighting ballast recycling
  • Construction and demolition waste recycling
  • Tire, wood and scrap metal recycling

An organics recycling program has been made available across the District through a new partnership with the City of Edmonton Waste Services branch.  This program has allowed the District to reach a 55% diversion rate of waste from the landfill, with the potential to reach 90% waste diversion by 2017.  The non-source separated organics recycling program allows all district sites to comingle organic waste with regular waste, eliminating the problem of extra organic waste bins and odor on school sites.

Below are important resources and additional contact information:

Please contact EnviroMatters for additional information:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it