students in a classroom

From the students: Inspire through innovative school facilities

School facilities are more than a place of learning – the buildings themselves can be inspiration to students. Alongside curriculum and student engagement, school facilities play a significant role in creating future leaders in sustainability. A report by Alberta students outlines the value of energy efficient school facilities on their education and future.

Created by Alberta students, the report Supporting Climate Leadership In Alberta Schools: Recommendations by Students for Alberta’s Educational Leaders was submitted to government and school leaders in June 2016. It covers four main areas: curriculum, student learning, professional development and school infrastructure.

“We, the youth of Alberta, believe that climate change is the defining issue of our generation,” reads the report, which included ideas from over 3,000 Alberta youth.

“Climate change can be intimidating and overwhelming – but we believe the antidote to despair is action.”

For school infrastructure, the students recommend that school districts:

  1. Engage students in reducing the consumption of energy and materials of their schools.
  2. Help students learn how to produce their own energy and food in school.
  3. Create a fund that schools could apply to for relevant projects.

From energy retrofits to acquiring renewable energy, the students called on leaders to make schools an icon for innovative approaches to sustainability.

“We think there should be a focus on making a greener school or a way in naturalizing it. We believe that small everyday changes make significant impacts,” continued the report.

In front of non-profit, industry and government representatives at the 2017 Environmental Gathering in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2017, high school students Shauna Kelly and Colin Charlton emphasized the value of learning in innovative facilities.

“How can we expect our society to become more environmentally conscious if the places we grow up don’t reflect a care for the health of the environment,” asked Charlton to an audience of 200 delegates.

The two students from Central Memorial High School in Calgary shared their ideas to encourage more students to become leaders in their schools. They recommended engaging students through their teachers, school boards, presentations in classrooms and in the digital world through social media.

“When students work together and are engaged and passionate, we can really create change,” said Charlton.

“We learn a lot of life lessons at school.”