Language selection


Canadian Circle of Champions – educational institutions

Canadian Circle of Champions

The following energy benchmarking champions are stakeholders in educational institutions committed to following an energy management strategy to reduce energy and building costs. These organizations include school boards, K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Find out their stories to learn how you can do the same.

NRCan is working hard to routinely update and promote our Canadian Circle of Champions. Stay tuned for more stories from our benchmarking champions!



Simcoe County District School Board
University of Calgary
Vancouver School Board

Stay tuned for more!

McGill University (Coming soon)
University of British Columbia (Coming soon)

Simcoe County District School Board

Benchmarking sends the Simcoe County District School Board to the top of the class

Simcoe County District School Board is a large school board in south-central Ontario with both urban and rural schools. It has 104 schools serving more than 50,000 students. Its new Mundy's Bay Public school received LEED-NC Gold certification during the 2009-2010 school year.

The school board has participated in the Sustainable Schools and GREEN UP® pilot external energy benchmarking programs. Three of its schools were listed among the Top 20 energy performing schools in Canada, with its Mundy's Bay school ranked as one of the most efficient schools in Canada in 2009.

In 2009, the Ontario Ministry of Education provided grants to school boards to improve their energy efficiency. When the Simcoe County District School Board received $9.6 million in funding, it embarked on a comprehensive energy management program with a goal to maximize the energy efficiency of its schools and facilities, while establishing targets, standards and improving operations.

A number of retrofits have been completed, including lighting upgrades and replacements, building automation upgrades, and mechanical improvements. The school board tracked progress and benchmarking energy performance throughout the process. The Simcoe County District School Board's public schools were recognized among the 2009 top 20 Energy Performers in Canada, as announced in the Enerlife 2009 List of Top Energy Performing Schools.

The school board continues to reap the rewards of its energy retrofit actions: in 2011, it reported savings of 5.8% of its total energy use compared to 2010.

University of Calgary

University of Calgary uses savings from benchmarking to support future energy improvements

The University of Calgary is one of Canada's top research universities. With a student population of 31,000, the University's campus spans over 200 hectares - an area larger than downtown Calgary. There are more than 60 buildings that, combined, cover a floor area of almost 790,000 m2 (8.5 million ft2). All of the university's buildings are fully occupied, and most of them are between 20 and 40 years old. The economic boom in Alberta led to significant growth in attendance, which inspired the University to embark on a large capital expansion.

As a signatory to the voluntary University and College Presidents' Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada initiative, the University released a Climate Action Plan, which outlines the University's commitment from the top level of management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to achieve targets of a 45% reduction by 2015 and 80% by 2050 Footnote 2.

To support the implementation and achievement of the targets outlined in the University's Climate Action Plan, the University enrolled 35 of its buildings into the Canada Green Building Council's GREEN UP® program to benchmark the energy and water use of these buildings against other similar buildings in Canada. The GREEN UP® database also normalized for weather and allowed the buildings to track their performance over time. In addition, a building performance audit was conducted in each of the buildings. The performance metrics collected from the various building systems were compared against metrics from other buildings. This enabled the University to prioritize key areas for retrofits, identify potential operational improvements and establish performance targets Footnote 3.

The University then implemented operational energy-saving initiatives and low-cost measures. The resulting savings feed a revolving energy fund used to finance recommissioning, upgraded controls and various retrofit measures.

Vancouver School Board

Vancouver School Board gets top marks for sustainability

The Vancouver School Board (VSB) is working toward making all of its schools more energy efficient while providing a better working environment for students and staff. New and renovated schools incorporate many sustainability features, such as energy-efficient lighting and mechanical systems, environmentally friendly building materials, water and energy conservation mechanisms, and the use of sunlight and natural ventilation throughout the school building.

"We are proud to be recognized for our energy conservation efforts and to be leading the way amongst school districts in the province in this area," said Kirthi Roberts, Manager of Energy & Climate Action for VSB. "The Vancouver School Board is integrating energy, carbon-reduction and sustainability initiatives through our operations and management and student engagement activities."

Facility-based sustainability initiatives are listed below.

Charles Dickens Elementary School – LEED Silver Project

Sir Charles Dickens Elementary School  [PDF – 1.6 MB] is the first accredited LEED® school in the Vancouver school district. The new school minimizes its ecological footprint and provides a healthy environment for more than 500 staff and students.

The total building area of 3,555 m2 (38,266 square feet) has 22 day-lit and geothermal heated classrooms, a library, special education rooms, a post-disaster level gymnasium, a commons/lunch room, a kitchen, a rooftop teaching garden, rainwater collection (for all the toilet flushing needs), and an underground parkade.

Redesigned lighting systems and power management software on VSB computers

Redesigning lighting systems and installing power management software on school computers helped the VSB earn recognition as one of BC Hydro’s Top 10 Power Smart customers in the province for two years in a row.

One of the leading projects for the district was the installation of power management software on 10,000 school computers. The power management software is saving 2.5 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity per year. That is equivalent to over 7 percent of the district’s total energy bill.

Lighting systems in the district have also been analyzed and recent retrofits are reducing electricity consumption by another 2 million KWh (2 GWh) per year. Much of the energy savings can be attributed to the installation of energy-efficient T-8 fluorescent tubes, which give better quality light and significant energy savings. Some classrooms have been redesigned to include multiple light switches so the amount of light in the classroom can be controlled. Daylight and occupancy sensors have also been installed and contribute to energy savings.

Refrigerator Energy Reduction and Conservation Program

With support from the school district’s facilities department, 4 high schools conducted an audit of their refrigerators as part of a pilot project. The audit was conducted to determine the quantity, size, age, and energy consumption of the refrigerators. For each unit removed, the schools received cash equivalent to the electricity the units would have otherwise consumed in one year; these funds were redirected to other energy conservation and sustainability efforts in the schools.

The four schools collectively removed 34 inefficient refrigerator and freezer units, which were recycled in an environmentally responsible manner. As an incentive for reducing the total refrigerator count, the schools qualified for 16 new ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerators to replace some of the worst offenders left behind.

In 2011, the VSB expanded its refrigeration energy conservation program to include more schools – if all 109 schools in the district followed the example of the 4 pilot schools, the energy saved on refrigeration would be equivalent to removing 2 to 3 elementary schools from the BC Hydro electricity grid forever. For more information, see the school board’s news release.

Solar Energy

With funding from the Province of British Columbia, Solar BC, Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) and Natural Resources Canada, the Vancouver School Board installed 5 solar hot-water (thermal) systems at 5 secondary schools in 2010. An additional solar-electric unit (photovoltaic) was installed in another secondary school with provincial funding. For further information, visit the board’s web page on its solar installations.

Awareness initiatives

BC Hydro Energy Ambassadors

Vancouver secondary school students are leading the way by working with BC Hydro to encourage energy conservation and sustainability in their schools through the BC Hydro Energy Ambassadors program.

UBC co-op student research on HVAC control systems

VSB hired a UBC co-op student to review the direct digital control systems in place across the school district and make recommendations for improvement to reduce electricity and heating loads in the schools. See the board’s web page on the UBC co-op student for further information.

Students participate in Green Building Conference

As part of the opening of the CIRS 'greenest building in North America,' 16 VSB students from 8 schools participated in the 3-day Green Building Conference at UBC held November 3-5, 2011. Students had the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by experts on sustainability from around the globe (including those from Oxford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). World-renowned local experts such as David Suzuki and Prof. John Robinson from the University of British Columbia were also present at the conference.

For more information on the Vancouver School Board’s energy efficiency efforts, visit their web page on Sustainable School Design.

This story appeared originally in Heads Up Energy Efficiency, November 2011 (archived).

Page details

Date modified: