Windermere recognized as one of the greenest schools in Canada

Green, Schools & Students

The Canada Green Building Council and the Canada Coalition for Green Schools has awarded Windermere Secondary School third place in their 2017 Greenest School in Canada competition. Launched in 2014, the Greenest School competition showcases elementary and secondary schools across the country that truly exemplify how sustainability can be woven into the infrastructure, culture and curriculum of a school.

 “This award illustrates beautifully how you can be green without having to build a brand new school,” says Ron Macdonald, the VSB’s manager of energy and environmental sustainability.

There are many facets to Windermere’s green school strategy. They have a dynamic student leadership program that prioritizes social responsibility, community engagement and environmental stewardship within the school and in the wider community.

Windermere runs locally developed courses, such as ecology and introduction to sustainability, that emphasize project based learning and help students to develop green initiatives. In addition these programs encourage outdoor education, connecting students to nature on a daily basis.

"I've gotten a better sense of myself, of the world, to question things, to look at the critical thought and mind, friendships and definitely new experiences and memories that have made my high school experience different from most,” says grade 12 leadership student Calla Picket.

The school is also an energy star; about eight years ago they installed solar panels which are used to heat water in their kitchen. That kitchen is the focus of a number of the school’s unique food programs. Windermere’s garden, orchard and greenhouse contribute approximately 125-150kg of food to the culinary arts program over the course of a school year. This includes a varied salad bar in the school’s cafeteria. Windermere also partners with Collingwood Neighborhood House, contributing food to their Morningstar breakfast program for low income individuals, as well as running a weekly summer market stand.

Like many Vancouver secondary schools, Windermere works hard at waste reduction as well, promoting reusable water containers, compost bins and classroom recycling.

"Leadership students work so hard every day and honestly a lot of important environmental work is not very glamorous,” says teacher Megan Thom. “They sort moldy juice boxes for our recycling, they garden in the rain, they put in countless hours organizing big events like Friday’s Climate Change Conference. They don't do it for recognition, but it sure is nice to know that their work has put us in the top three greenest schools in the country.”

Windermere’s ninth annual Climate Change Conference brings together over 200 students from across Vancouver for a full day of presentations, workshops, networking and community action. This year’s conference titled What Will Be Your Legacy? is happening on Friday, December 1. Activist musician and filmmaker Luke Wallace will deliver the opening keynote address.

“It’s never too late to make a change,” declares conference organizer Nima Wadsworth, grade 11. “Sure, there’s a lot to be done, but we need to hold onto hope.”