Congratulations to Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ontario, Canada, for earning the title of the 2015 Greenest School on Earth. This annual competition, sponsored by the Global Coalition for Green Schools (an initiative of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC), recognizes a K-12 school for achievement in its environmental impact, human health and ecoliteracy.
I was honored to be one of the judges for the competition and amazed at what these schools are doing to make a difference in their school and the world. Choosing a single winner was extremely difficult. While reviewing submissions, the jury discovered so many incredible things being done around the world. Dunbarton emerged the winner because of its success meeting each of the three pillars of the competition.
Because the buildings were built in the 1960s, the school focused its efforts to reduce environmental impact on inexpensive retrofits (paid by fundraising efforts from the Environmental Club) and behavioral changes that involve students, teachers, faculty, staff, and the community. I love the fact that the school plans to spend a portion of the prize money on a garden that will be 20% for its own use and 80% for the local food bank.
For the human health component, the school is looking long-term, with a seven-year campus biodiversity program to provide trees to shade an outdoor classroom. The commitment to health continues with providing nutritious options in the cafeteria and vending machines, as well as water fountains with reusable water bottles.
One of the initiatives that separated Dunbarton from the rest is how it’s addressing the remaining pillar – ecoliteracy. Students take what they learn and apply it to their school. For example, science classes monitor school and campus air quality, local stream water quality and school electricity use. The students then use this data to create a conservation plan.
Seeing the resourceful leadership that went into these entries reinforces our sense of pride in being a partner with the Center for Green Schools. To support the Center and their initiatives, including the Greenest School on Earth competition, go to centerforgreenschools.org and check out Shaw Contract Group’s Cut & Compose collection, 3 tile and 2 broadloom styles for which we are donating 1.5% of the proceeds to the Center for Green Schools.