Public Board to Consider “BETTER SCHOOLS INITIATIVE”
In keeping with its mission to provide a reliable, comfortable environment to facilitate and enhance student learning, the Great Essex County District School Board is undertaking an energy partnership program that simultaneously addresses the critical need to conserve energy, focuses on facility renewal funded directly through energy savings, and provides a unique curriculum-based environmental education partnership for students and staff. Working with energy partner, Ameresco Canada Inc., the Board is undertaking the Better Schools Initiative to meet the challenges arising from current funding levels which do not adequately address building and program renewal needs.
The Better Schools Initiative creates facility and program renewal by redirecting dollars saved through reduced energy use. The Better Schools Initiative will:
generate up to $34,600,000 in school renewal for the Board with a significant reduction in the deferred building renewal backlog;
reduce the Board’s current annual energy costs by up to $1,074,000;
reduce energy consumption by 17%, lowering future energy costs;
reduce reactive maintenance calls and activities with the introduction of new, reliable building systems; and
improve the GECDSB Facility Condition Index (as rated by the Ministry of Education) by 20%.
“The Better Schools Initiative will help the Board achieve significant improvements in our schools which we would not otherwise be able to afford based on the dollars we receive from the province for facility renewal,” states Board Chairperson Gale Simko-Hatfield. The following specific facility improvement measures will enhance student learning with more comfortable surroundings, in addition to reducing energy costs:
replacement of inefficient steam and electric heating with high efficiency hot water;
replacement of deteriorating air handling systems;
addition of new building temperature controls and occupancy sensors;
addition of high efficiency, more effective lighting;
replacement and renovation of washroom fixtures and equipment; and
window and weatherstripping upgrades.
“Improvements such as those included in the Better Schools Initiative will result in buildings that support productive, comfortable and uninterrupted learning,” states Mary Jean Gallagher, Director of Education. “Students and staff will take greater pride in their schools and enhance the positive tone that always encourages success,” adds Gallagher.
In keeping with the Better Schools Initiative’s goal of encouraging responsible energy use, the GECDSB project will also include the launch of EarthCARE, an environmental education partnership, in all schools across the Board.
“Teaching children to become active stewards of their environment allows them to see exactly how their behaviour affects energy use,” says Penny Allen, Superintendent of Business and Treasurer. “The outcomes are excellent – they get education on conservation issues as well as a better learning environment,” adds Allen.