Catholic Register – Catholic School Canada’s First To Go Carbon-Neutral

John Paul II Secondary School in London, Ont., is Canada’s first self-sufficient, carbon-neutral school, drawing on solar and geothermal energy for its power needs.

The project saw 2,700 carport solar panels installed throughout the parking lots of the school, which provide 825 kWDC of power to a battery system that will heat, cool and provide electricity.

The improvements will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to near zero and remove approximately 277 tons of carbon on a yearly basis. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Nov. 2.

“There was will at the executive levels of the school board to engage in this project and that’s really what allowed it to come about,” said Peter Cassidy, principal at John Paul II.

Cassidy understands the difficulty for school boards “to engage in projects that exceed the basic requirements” because of funding issues, but is proud of the board for making it happen. The London Catholic District School Board funded more than half of the $9.7-million project with the federal government contributing $4.8 million.

“The fact that they were able to work cooperatively in what I think was a really sophisticated collaboration between a variety of government agencies, local power authorities and different energy partners was probably a difficult navigation but they persisted,” said Cassidy.

Renewable energy company Ameresco, Inc. started retrofitting for the project in 2019, with minor delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The board has had a historical relationship with the company in implementation of energy-reduction projects worth more than $50 million across its facilities over the past decade.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the London District Catholic School Board by collaborating on such a monumental project,” said Bob McCullough, president of Ameresco Canada. “Our work with JPII is a wonderful illustration of how a complex project seemingly far beyond a facility’s budget can be completed through flexible funding and adaptation. This sets the stage for how other educational institutions can implement infrastructures to achieve carbon-neutral goals in the future.”

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