Two Vancouver schools are top ten finalists in Canada's Greenest School Competition. Queen Elizabeth Elementary and Windermere Secondary School now need your vote to help them win a 36 seat hybrid school bus valued at $200,000. A Canada-wide vote begins today until May 4, with the school receiving the most votes winning the contest. Vote now.
At Queen Elizabeth Elementary, student Michelle M was recognized for a project that envisioned her school as the greenest one in Canada. To demonstrate her vision Michelle took photos of areas of the school and edited them to show the installation of energy saving and sustainable initiatives.
She showed a computer lab powered by pedal power, solar panels and wind turbines on the roof, geothermal pipes, a rain barrel and low flush toilets to conserve water, composting and a vegetable garden.
Michelle also suggested changes to the curriculum to include environmental topics, an "eco-times" newsletter and school-wide sustainability-themed days and challenges. In her vision all classes would participate in monitoring compost bins, recycling, maintaining the garden and keeping the school clean.
Windermere Community Secondary School has gone beyond the visioning stage to put a number of progressive, sustainability initiatives to work. Students at the school are extremely enthusiastic about the environment and in December 2009 they held C3, Climate Change Conference to coincide with the world climate conference in Copenhagen.
This student organized conference brought together over 270 students from all over the lower mainland. The conference featured Nobel Peace Prize winner and UBC professor Dr. Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modeling and Analysis as well as a live video conference with the Canadian Youth Delegation in Copenhagen. The outcome of this conference was the birth of ECHO (Education Creating High School Opportunities), a Vancouver Sustainability Youth Network with representatives from seven high schools meeting once a week.
They have also built a greenhouse which yields food for the school cafeteria and community groups; initiated a bike-share program, started a large-scale composting program and mentored elementary students to develop their own sustainability initiatives. Read below for an in depth description of their initiatives.
If Windermere is successful in winning the competition they plan to set-up a community bus rental system which they will share with their elementary feeder schools and community partners. Profits from the bus rentals would go towards supporting green initiatives such as other school gardens within the Vancouver School Board thereby reducing costs and ecological footprint.
See a video on what Windermere has planned if they win the hybrid bus by clicking here. http://www.canadasgreenestschool.ca/votenow.aspx
Windermere has received several awards and been recognized by organizations such as the City of Vancouver, Environmental Youth Alliance, BC Hydro, Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, Evergreen, BC Green Games (2 time winner), Global Agents for Change, Youth Ventures and many more, for our ability to engage youth in meaningful ways in projects we have worked on in the past, along with current endeavors.
Windermere's green initiatives:
- ACTION: Student led group that implemented a school wide BikeShare program. This involved a presentation at City Hall with the end result being a mandate from the City of Vancouver to donate bikes traditionally sold at the police auction, to schools and community organizations. BikeShare currently holds over 30 bikes that are student maintained in a large bike storage container obtained through various grants and donations.
- Windermere Organic Garden- Entirely student driven organic food garden which includes 14 beds, a large greenhouse, and an aquaponics system (combination of aquaculture and hydroponics). The garden supplies food to the school cafeteria during the school year and is maintained over the summer by students. Additional food is sold at local farmers market as well as donated to Collingwood Neighborhood House's Morning Star food program for low income individuals.
- GRASSROOTS- Leadership 11 students mentor elementary school students at seven feeder schools in the area of sustainability. The program begins with a small conference bringing together approximately 100 elementary school students to educate them about sustainability issues. This is followed by the implementation of sustainability projects and events at each elementary school under the guidance of leadership 11 students. Eventually all students are brought together once again to highlight the work they did during the course of the year
- School wide composting program run by leadership students. Waste from the cafeteria along with 10 small bins distributed throughout the school are regularly collected and added to the compost system adjacent to the school garden. The compost program is about to expand into the community with the addition of a large Earth Tub compost system in the garden. Students are in the process of offering residents and restaurants an opportunity to dispose of their compost waste. This will be done with our new bike trailer system which will allow students to ride around the neighborhood collecting the waste.
- Pilot project to implement dual flush toilets into some washrooms at the school. Conventional toilets waste 35,000 litres of water per year and dual flush use 50% less water.