It has been our pleasure to work with Vernon Secondary School during fall/winter 2011 to come up with a truly unique project. Vernon Secondary School is currently being rebuilt and is preparing to be occupied by September 2012. The new school will be one of BC’s, if not Canada’s, most energy efficient schools. This LEED Gold building will demonstrate energy efficiency through its building design and geothermal heating system. As a compliment to this low-energy building, staff, parents and students wanted to take sustainability to the next level and create a green school ground. The Go Green Project was born.
The Go Green Project’s goal is to provide a design for a sustainable outdoor classroom to facilitate and demonstrate the benefits of natural systems within a school curriculum while providing fresh, nutrient rich local food from a student run garden/greenhouse for use in the school cafeteria and cooking programs.
The Go Green Committee also wanted the site to be open and available for community members to use for gardening, composting, program facilitation and gatherings to create a more resilient community. We wanted the site to bring together people of all ages, cultures, demographics, experience levels and professions to create a productive, safe, educational space to demonstrate all aspects of sustainability including:
- Sustainable food systems (organic gardening, food forestry, agro-forestry, sustainable/regenerative agriculture)
- Closed-loop Systems (Ecological Design)
- Energy Efficient Building
- Resource/Waste Management (Composting, recycling, building)
- Water Harvesting
- First Nation’s Cultural Heritage
The design consists of four main components:
- Composting System
- Outdoor Classroom
- School & Community Gardens
The overall design utilized Permaculture Principles and Ecological Design to create a space that was considerate to relative location of elements, environmental impacts, energy uses, resource management, waste management and water harvesting.
After several months of consultation, design and report writing we prepared a successful design that has been adopted by the VSS: Go Green Committee, School District 22 and other community stakeholders. We would like to thank VSS and School District 22 for the opportunity to be part of this pioneering project. It is my hope that other schools/districts will follow their example to incorporate sustainable education into regular curriculum.