School Sustainability Program

This project, with funding support from the City of Ottawa, trained 47 student leaders at three high schools to lead their schools in the development of sustainability plans. This provides important benefits for the schools, the community and the students themselves.

OBEC created the training material and held an intial training session at each school. After that, student leaders proceeded on their own. Leading Theme-based discussions with a number of classes in their schools they got agreement on issues and projects for the ten Themes of Sustainability. Then they put the data into OBEC templates and created the three School Sustainability Plans in 2016.

There was an evolution, however, in OBEC’s learning about how to develop school sustainability plans. In 2012 OBEC gave a presentation and skit to 160 grade 7 students, who developed the All Saints Catholic School Sustainability Plan. Then in 2014 OBEC trained five University of Ottawa students who engaged students at a school to develop the Woodroffe High School Sustainability Plan. You can find links to both of these plans below.

There is a handbook on how to train students to develop School Sustainability Plans. It 2017 OBEC provided this, along with training material to participants at the international Water Informatics Sustainability Environment conference in Ottawa. It also mailed the same package to 44 Ottawa high schools.

We invite you to download the handbook and share it with a school near you. If there is interest, you or the school may download the training material (training manuals and appendices). When you do this, please let us know and inform us of progress/results. We’ll be happy to see how our work is benefiting others.

Project Leader

Name: Jim Birtch

OBEC Team: Colleen Morgan


All Saints Catholic School Sustainability Plan

Woodroffe High School Sustainability Plan

Colonel By School Sustainability Plan

Earl of March School Sustainability Plan

Sir Robert Borden School Sustainability Plan

Project Update, January 19, 2016

The Ottawa Biosphere Eco-City Initiative (OBEC) successfully created Sustainability Plan with Colonel By High School.

Colonel By High School Students’ Testimonials

"Being apart of the creation of Colonel By's first sustainability plan was a tremendous pleasure and amazing experience. I worked with incredible people in creating this plan and learned a lot about sustainability, the biosphere and the environment in general. As a school, Colonel By came up with several ideas and actions that can be implemented as a community, school or at home in order to maintain a sustainable community and city. The creation of this sustainability plan is a great step towards making Colonel By a more eco-friendly and sustainable school and I am excited to implement many of the ideas we have came up with as a group over the following years. It was a pleasure to be a part of this initiative and I am eager to see how else we can improve our planet."

-Karen Jiang, gr 11

"Although Colonel By is home to a countless number of clubs, joining FROGG and creating our sustainability plan really was a unique experience. I feel that the impact we made, and continue to make, on the school and community is both significant and real. Being able to work within such a wonderful group of people did not just teach me leadership and teamwork, but also the importance of protecting our environment, both on a global and individual level. Knowing this plan will allow our school to continually develop as an eco-friendly community, I look forward for the years to come."

- Milong Wang, gr. 12

Earl of March High School Students’ Testimonials

"Creating Earl of March’s sustainability plan was great. We worked with our school’s LINK Crew class to have them as student leaders, who then went to grade nine classes to get ideas about each theme. This led to many people being informed about environmental problems in our community and school. When working with our Eco Earl Club, many people were surprised that we were able to gather so much information and thought that the plan was a fantastic idea. Our club was happy to work with the members of the OBEC team to help our school become greener.'
-Priya Nagpal, student leader and Eco Earl Club head

"It was a lot of fun to create the sustainability plan for Earl of March with the OBEC team. Along with other student leaders, ideas were gathered from our grade nine students, then sorted and categorized. Everyone thought that this is a very effective way to raise awareness for and to brainstorm solutions for key environmental issues, big and small."

-Lauren Xu, student leader and Eco Earl Club head

Project Update, October 27, 2015

The Ottawa Biosphere Eco-City Initiative (OBEC) received a grant of $1900 from the City of Ottawa for the training of high school students in developing and implementing Sustainability Plans in three schools. Sustainable Youth Canada (SYC) has partnered with OBEC on this initiative titled School Sustainability Planning and Implementation (SSPI).

OBEC School Sustainability Plans are created through workshops with students, where the goals are to identify key issues and propose projects for each of the ten Themes of Sustainability: transportation, energy, design, habitat, food, natural capital, waste, health, recreation, and sense of place. Student leaders are tasked with running these workshops and assembling the information to solidify the Sustainability Plans. Within the overarching plans, smaller projects are organized into three categories: projects for the school, projects for the community, and projects for students to do individually (or with family and friends). Once finalized, each Sustainability Plan will be distributed to all students within the school.

This initiative includes implementation and follow-up by the students. Student leaders create an Implementation Strategy for each Sustainability Plan, to suggest components such as order and cost of projects. They may also help to maintain school sustainability projects as well as suggest ways to keep track of projects carried out by fellow students.

To provide guidance, OBEC created a student training manual that was distributed to every student leader prior to the first training session. An instructor manual was also created to guide the volunteers in training student leaders.

In October, 41 student leaders attended initial training sessions at two Ottawa high schools. They also led workshops for 12 classes that identified issues and projects related to the 10 Themes. In each workshop, student leaders made presentations on sustainability and led discussions on individual themes. Student leaders are now assembling input for the workshops in information templates. The data will be used to create the previously mentioned Sustainability Plans and Implementation Strategies.

Instructors for the project include regular OBEC volunteers as well as students from the University of Ottawa. This also incorporates individuals from a 2014 project in which OBEC trained University of Ottawa volunteers to lead Woodroffe High School in the development of a Sustainability Plan. Furthermore, observers include a Masters in Education student from the same university and a fourth year Environmental Studies student from Carleton University. The latter is completing a case study on the initiative.

Discussions are underway with two additional schools in Ottawa who may potentially join the initiative this fall. Other schools may respond to this post to inquire about implementing the SSPI process. Electronic information is available for free, however OBEC's funds for producing manuals and CDs are limited.

OBEC has advertised for a volunteer project manager, to create a project management framework around SSPI. This position is not essential to complete the initiative, but the project manager could effectively identify efficiencies and support evaluation. A project management template for SSPI could also be used as a model for future OBEC projects. Inquiries may be made addressed through OBEC’s Facebook page.