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The CECCE is Helping to Build a Greener World!

September 15, 2017, OTTAWA - This morning, the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) announced its large-scale plan to become, by 2035, the first French-language school board in Ontario to target carbon neutrality across its entire building inventory.

To succeed in this tremendous undertaking, the CECCE is partnering with Ameresco, a leading provider of comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. Ameresco will invest in upgrading school infrastructure to reduce the board’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

“This new partnership with Ameresco is an essential component of the CECCE’s sustainable development and eco-citizenship plan to reduce its schools’ environmental impact and protect God’s creation. We will incorporate responsible operational and management practices consistent with the principles of environmental citizenship as we shape engaged and ethical citizens who care about the planet, demonstrate environmentally responsible behaviour, become community leaders, and embrace ideals of social justice and equality,” said CECCE Chair Johanne Lacombe.

A roadmap for carbon neutrality

To meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets and achieve carbon neutrality, the CECCE will continue its transition to green energy, pare down the use of natural gas and other fossil fuels in its buildings, develop new renewable energy sources, and ramp up energy-saving measures.

It will focus on integrating technology such as solar panels, LEDs, and geothermal and high-efficiency ventilation systems into its buildings.

In return for financing these measures, Ameresco will sell the electricity generated to the CECCE at a fixed rate per kWh for a set period of time. The CECCE will benefit from stable energy costs during the investment recovery period and will be exempt from the provincial carbon tax.

“The CECCE is developing and implementing a strategic action plan to achieve carbon neutrality in its buildings in a bid to become the first carbon-neutral school board in Ontario,” said Director of Education Réjean Sirois. “This is an ambitious project, but the CECCE is confident that it has put together the right team of experts and professionals to emerge as a leader in sustainable development while teaching students to pursue their dreams in order to build a better world.”

Phase I

The CECCE will begin by auditing its headquarters and nine of its schools to determine how best to reduce their carbon footprint through retrofits and energy efficiency measures. These nine schools are among the CECCE’s biggest energy consumers:

  • Catholic high schools: Franco-Cité, Béatrice-Desloges, Garneau, Samuel-Genest and Minto;

  • Catholic elementary schools: St-François-d’Assise, J.-L.-Couroux, Bernard-Grandmaître and Édouard-Bond.

Schools ahead of the curve

Thanks to the CECCE’s sustainable development and eco-citizenship plan, many of the board’s schools are already very active and have implemented quite a few green initiatives. CECCE students and staff value environmental awareness and sustainable development because they recognize that every one of us has a moral duty to build a better world for our communities.

In fact, 36 of the CECCE’s schools are certified Ontario EcoSchools committed to reducing their environmental impact and shaping environmentally responsible students. The board has also installed 18 solar arrays on its schools and instituted a number of other energy efficiency measures. Taken together, these initiatives have reduced the CECCE’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 600 metric tonnes over four years, which is equivalent to taking 110 cars off the road.

Impact on teaching

The new partnership with Ameresco is a golden opportunity to affirm the CECCE’s commitment to implementing new emerging pedagogies related to sustainable development. The CECCE is working with Michael Fullan, an international expert on education reform and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, to devise professional practices that engage students in learning through critical thinking challenges about carbon and renewable energy.

These challenges are presented as processes that lead to deep learning, which gives students greater agency over their own knowledge. Student-centred problem solving enhances engagement and encourages them to facilitate, collaborate, and take action.

This partnership represents a golden opportunity to treat carbon and renewal energies not just as a facilities and physical plant matter, but also as an opportunity for students to contribute to solutions, and to learn about sustainability in a way that will stay with them the rest of their lives,” said Michael Fullan.  

Working with the French embassy

The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est is also pleased to announce that the Kemptville Pavilion of École catholique Sainte-Marguerite-Bourgeoys will partner with the French embassy on a research project.

Next April, French researchers will meet with students and invite them to collect data on plant species to support research on how climate change affects the seasons. Drawing on the expertise of France’s Observatoire des saisons and Canada’s Nature Watch, this enrichment experience is a wonderful opportunity for the CECCE to transform its schools into living labs through hands-on classroom activities that connect learning and the environment.

Together for
success and well-being of each student
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