Today, the Global Coalition for Green Schools, an initiative of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), recognized Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ontario, Canada, as the "Greenest School on Earth." The title is awarded as part of the coalition's annual competition that honors a K-12 program that integrates sustainability into its infrastructure, culture, and curriculum. The program also must have zero environmental impact in terms of water, energy, waste, and carbon; a positive impact on occupant health and performance; and 100-percent environmentally literate graduates, meaning they are what USGBC calls “sustainability natives” who understand the impact they and their school have on the environment. "The Greenest School on Earth recognition goes to the school that is defining what it means to live, breathe, and teach whole-school sustainability,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools in a press release.
Built in the 1960s, Dunbarton has undergone significant renovations in the past five years. The school now has energy-efficient windows, new insulation, and lower-wattage fluorescent lighting. Also a winner of the 2014 Greenest School in Canada competition by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), Dunbarton features an outdoor classroom for 40, a 500-square-meter (5,382-square-feet) pollinator garden, and a rooftop solar water heating system.
In addition to its sustainable features, the school has put its green ideas into practice by offering a Specialist High Skills major in the environment, which allows students to pursue sector certifications and participate in extracurricular activities at attractions like Parks Canada and the Toronto Zoo. To ensure environmental literacy, the school integrates green elements into the curriculum through photography, drama, visual arts, and geography classes.
“Dunbarton is an exceptional example of a school that recognizes and integrates sustainability into education and operations. Changes were made to the old building to reduce carbon emissions and provide a healthier indoor environment for staff and students; their curriculum emphasizes the value of protecting and restoring ecosystems and provides students with hands on experience; and their community engagement brings people together to take action with a positive impact on the environment,” said Thomas Mueller, CaGBC president and CEO, in the press release.
As the winner of the competition, Dunbarton will receive $1,000 to develop a sustainability program. The school plans to use the prize to create a garden and to construct 10 additional bee condominiums to support the local community.
The panel of judges for this year’s Greenest School on Earth included Princess Noor bint Asem of Jordan; John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer of UTC Climate, Controls & Security and co-chair of the Center for Green Schools Advisory Board; Jane Henley, former CEO of the World Green Building Council; Peter Templeton, USGBC's senior vice president of global market development; and Wanda Dunaway, director of education and government markets of Shaw Contract Group.