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Project ECO launches

Vancouver School Board and BC Hydro have teamed up to launch a pilot  program in Vancouver schools to teach staff, teachers and students to conserve electricity and other resources.

The pilot program will take place at three secondary schools including Prince of Wales, Windermere and Vancouver Technical and their neighbouring elementary and annex schools for a total of 19 schools. The program aims to create behavioural change in staff and foster an energy-aware climate in schools.

project eco

From left: Gary Sveinson, BC Hydro's manager of sector accounts (school districts); Superintendent of Schools, Steve Cardwell; Kirthi Roberts, VSB's manager of energy and climate action; Ken Denike, school board trustee; Wayne Cousins, Senior Key Account Manager for BC Hydro Power Smart; Mary Ferguson, BC Hydro's education programs; and Kevin Millsip, VSB's sustainability coordinator.Front row: Prince of Wales TREK students: from left - Justin Yu, Charlie Van and Ian McGregor.
At a press event to launch the program, Superintendent of Schools, Steve Cardwell (pictured, right) said "Vancouver aspires to be the greenest school district in North America." He applauded the innovative student-led sustainability initiatives throughout the district and looks forward to seeing the results from the pilot program.

Mary Ferguson with BC Hydro's school programs added "If we can support educators and support staff we can take all our energy conservation efforts even further."

Kevin Millsip, the district's sustainability coordinator said that staff can make a difference in many ways, including paper-usage. "Our district uses nearly 80 million pieces of paper a year."

project eco Steve Cardwell

The four aspects of the program include:

  1. Training a student "Energy Monitor" in every classroom who controls thermostats and lights.
  2. Developing a paper use reduction plan and strategy in each school to target a percentage reduction in paper use.
  3. Delivering conservation training workshops to staff with 75 per cent of staff at each school trained in energy conservation.
  4. Placing suggestion boxes in each school with suggestions collated monthly, reviewed, and evaluated for potential to be implemented by the district's energy manager and sustainability coordinator and posted on communication board in school.

Kirthi Roberts, the district's manager of energy and climate action, said that technological and operational changes at schools have helped save electricity and resources. He said technology changes include lighting upgrades, power management software for school computers, and renewable energy, including solar panels on some schools, are saving the district money and energy. Training for building engineers also helps schools to run in the most efficient manner.

"We can't stop there because technology is not inherently smart - we all have to work together to make a real difference," said Roberts.

Students at Prince of Wales Secondary's TREK outdoor mini school won a contest to name the program. Their suggestion, "Project ECO: Energy Conservation in the Office," garnered the students $800 from the district to put towards sustainability causes at their school.

Justin Yu, one of the grade 10 TREK students who came up with the name said "I'm concerned about the future of earth and how our generation is going to treat it." He said that they plan to use part of the prize money to work on the school's garden and the rest will be invested in the student's Plan-It Earth sustainability conference.

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