The Halton District School Board has a history of commitment to the environment and has forged strong partnerships in the community to advance this important work. With a renewed commitment through the Environmental Leadership area of focus in the HDSB’s 2020-2024 Multi-Year Strategic Plan, significant effort has been made to ensure the Board leads sustainable and green initiatives in our schools and workplaces.
Students are central to environmental leadership within the Board. A key initiative is the Student Senate-led Climate Emergency Declaration developed in response to the urgency of climate change. Recognizing the challenges climate change brings to the HDSB, this declaration aims to inspire students, families and staff to take collective action in combating climate change in their communities through various actions. Students will celebrate their peers for their commitment and leadership to school and community initiatives through a new Environmental Award program expected to launch later in 2022.
In partnership with the Evergreen organization, the Climate Ready Schools project is underway at Irma Coulson Public School in Milton where the school grounds are being re-imagined.. This project, a first of its kind in Canada, aims to help mitigate the effects of climate change by cooling outdoor learning sites with shade and better managing the infiltration of stormwater to minimize flooding.
Solar panels have been installed at Irma Coulson Public School where the system is now generating electricity - very exciting ! This green energy project complements other solar projects in place at John William Boich Public School, and M.M. Robinson and Iroquois Ridge high schools. Escarpment View Public School should be online this spring and Ethel Gardiner Public School in Halton Hills is expected to have solar panels installed next year. There are other technologies being implemented across the HDSB to support sustainability and efficiency, and they include Building Automation Systems, LED lighting systems and solar reflective window blinds.
Partnerships with numerous organizations such as the Halton Climate Collective and Halton Environmental Network have provided schools, students and staff with access to valuable expertise and resources. This helps the HDSB advocate for, and teach students about, a green approach to everyday living.
Now in its third year, the Halton Climate Collective organized a student-centred reading initiative called HCC Reads. This year it was supported by keynote speaker, author and climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe. Participants read her book, Saving Us, and Hayhoe educated viewers in a virtual presentation on how to best address climate action and encourage meaningful engagement and dialogue.
The HDSB continues to partner with the Halton Climate Collective and the Halton Environmental Network to support Generation Green, a youth-led conference through which students learn to become leaders by taking action on climate change. The focus for this year’s spring conference is, Driving Climate Action by Driving Less.
Dozens of our schools participate in the Ontario EcoSchools program. It’s an environmental education and certification program for Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools that helps school communities develop ecological literacy and environmental practices to become environmentally responsible and reduce the environmental footprint of schools.
We are very proud of our approach to environmental sustainability but we know there is more to do. The Halton District School Board remains committed to working alongside students to better understand the connections between ecosystems, social justice and climate and ensuring that the schools where we learn, the buildings where we work and the world in which we live are sustainable and safe places.