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Provincial Schools Energy Conservation

Portfolio Overview & Summary

The Ministry of Education, Learning and Curriculum Division, is responsible for the direct operation of provincial and demonstration schools for Ontario students who are Deaf/hard of hearing, blind/low vision, deafblind or who have a severe learning disability across five sites: Belleville, Brantford, London, Milton, and Ottawa (French-language). Each site offers a residential program for students and operates various extended facilities such as pools, gymnasiums, infirmaries, kitchens, as well as extensive landscape care and maintenance.

In total, 74 institutional buildings totalling 1.4 million sqft are leased from the Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI). All but five buildings are over 35 years old. The Brantford and Belleville campuses are designated as significant heritage properties. In order to support the Ministry/Branch programs, facilities are required to operate 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The Provincial Schools Branch (PSB) is comprised of 1,000 full and part time employees including teachers, education assistants, residence counsellors, physiologists, nurses and various other support staff.

The PSB also provides outreach resource services such as teacher training and consultation to school boards who have pupils within their jurisdiction who are blind, Deaf, deafblind, and severely learning disabled. This includes pre-school services for such children and their families as well as short-term programs for blind/low vision students attending local school boards.

Short Term Placement Programs provide specific skill acquisition and rich social and recreational opportunities for blind/low vision students throughout the province. This program operates on the weekend and requires the facility to remain in service during weekend stays. Alternative Education Resources for Ontario (AERO) at W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind (Brantford) provides alternate format learning materials (i.e. braille, large print, audio, e-text) for students who are blind/low vision or perceptually disabled at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels. The centre supports large volume production and storage facilities.

“Keeping the natural environment healthy for future generations is everyone’s responsibility. Climate change is one of the most serious threats to a healthy environment, and schools and school boards have a vital role to play in helping students and staff understand what they can do about it.”

- Ontario EcoSchools


Ministry of Education - Annual Energy Consumption Summary
Click here to access this table in PDF format.

Energy/Water Reduction Strategies

Capital Strategies

The Provincial Schools Branch ensures that environmental considerations and energy management strategies are integrated into capital project and procurement planning. Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and the Ministry of Education (EDU) work in partnership to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings and strive to achieve a minimum of silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for any new facilities. Green design approaches are applied to each project to produce the optimal balance of green performance, keeping in mind initial costs, long-term costs, budget and green objectives while at the same time considering the particular site needs. The Ministry challenges contractor design team representatives to consider the function, green goals, occupant health and cost over the entire useful life of the school by using life-cycle analysis, computer modeling, previous experience and end-user input.

PSB strategies of energy management:

Three Legs of Energy Management

It’s hard to imagine what one tonne of CO2 looks like, so here are some useful measurements. One tonne of CO2 would fill a typical three bedroom house, be produced by 4000 car miles consuming approximately 550 litres of fuel, be offset by 150 mature (25 yr old) pine trees per year.



2013 Projects Targeting Energy Conservation Update

  • W Ross Macdonald School (Brantford) New LEED Silver residence with Geo thermal heating/cooling, energy efficient lighting, grey water recovery for washroom fixtures. UPDATE - Completion of the new residence is scheduled for end of July, 2014.
  • Boiler/ MAU Replacement projects. UPDATE - a recent Infrastructure Ontario project to replace and upgrade to more efficient boilers in Belleville and Milton has been completed.
  • High efficiency lighting upgrades. UPDATE - PSB has targeted high consumption areas and completed several LED and T6 lighting conversions in Milton, Belleville, London and Brantford.
  • Building automation system projects (BAS). UPDATE - a recent Infrastructure Ontario BAS installation project has been completed in Brantford and Belleville offering greater flexibility and control over HVAC systems improving overall heating and cooling efficiency.
  • Caulking and window replacements. UPDATE - Infrastructure Ontario has initiated a project to upgrade the windows in the main school in Belleville.
  • Exterior door replacements. UPDATE - W Ross Macdonald School; Several exterior door replacement upgrades were completed at the school.
  • Variable speed electric motor installations. UPDATE - a variable speed motor was installed as part of a pool infrastructure improvement project at the Robarts/Amethyst school.
  • NEW – Electric vehicles. PSB is replacing maintenance vehicles with electric utility vehicles where feasible on the three large campuses: Belleville, Milton, Brantford. Four electric vehicles were added in 2012 and an additional three have been added to the fleet in 2013. The number of full size vans and trucks utilized by maintenance staff is reduced accordingly.

2014 / 2015 Planned Projects Targeting Energy Conservation

W Ross Macdonald School (Brantford)

  • Ceiling and lighting upgrades in the student and staff cafeterias are slated to be completed over the summer hiatus.
  • Wilkes Hall project to renovate the entire space including new lighting and HVAC systems will improve building efficiencies.
  • IO has initiated a window replacement project for selected buildings. Windows in many areas are original; increased R-factor should be achieved once completed.

E.C. Drury School (Milton)

  • Dorm 5 renovation of the entire space including new lighting systems and bathroom fixtures will improve building efficiencies.
  • LED and T6 Lighting replacements in various campus locations, both interior and exterior fixtures.

Sir James Whitney School (Belleville)

  • Sports Complex pool and gym LED lighting replacement.
  • IO has initiated a window replacement project for selected buildings, Windows in many areas are original; increased R-factor should be achieved once completed

Robarts/Amethyst Schools (London)

  • LED and T6 Lighting replacements in various campus locations, both interior and exterior fixtures

Centre Jules Leger (Ottawa)

  • LED and T6 Lighting replacements in various campus locations, both interior and exterior fixtures

Program Strategies

High consuming energy and water equipment

  • Program delivery requires facilities to function 7 days a week 24 hours a day.
  • Primary building heat is delivered by hot water or steam using a total of 78 boilers ranging from 150,000-7million BTU’s  provide heat to the schools, residences and out buildings across the 5 campuses.
  • Each facility is equipped with a backup generator for delivery of emergency power.
  • 3 of the schools have competition size pools used for PSB programs and by site stakeholder organizations.
  • Portfolio includes a total of 6 Institutional kitchens, 5 of these kitchens prepare lunch and dinner for students and 1 is used as a teaching kitchen providing Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) courses.
  • Laundry facilities are located in each of the residences.  The Brantford school is comprised of a full complement of commercial laundry equipment.
  • Braille Duxbury printers/alternate format printer, AERO (Alternative Educational Resources Ontario). High energy use providing alternate format text to school age and post-secondary students across the province with perceptual difficulties operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
  • High quantity of VDU across all 5 sites used as visual PA systems.
  • Computer data centers and IT server rooms which require 24/7 conditioned air to protect circuitry.   

Occupant Engagement Strategies

  • Establish a school/Branch Green Team.
  • Promote Environmental Stewardship (Ontario Eco-Schools Program).
  • Place data near light switches indicating dollars wasted by leaving lights, on etc.
  • Custodians to shut off power to electric non-essential appliances/lights in evenings/weekends.
  • Kitchen/Cafeterias/residences empty fridges and freezers shut off over summer hiatus periods.
  • Turn personal computers off when not in use, especially overnight
  • Develop campus energy audit forms, train custodial staff to complete campus energy audits/utility checks
  • Put the theme of Energy conservation in school newsletters.
  • Water audits to check for leaking and running toilets, etc.
  • Review Preventive Maintenance Program to improve HVAC efficiencies.
  • Do an Energy Audit walk-through at night.
  • Install night setback thermostats on supplemental HVAC units (program BAS).
  • Use lower wattage halogen or compact fluorescent lamps to replace incandescent.
  • Create a school energy logo to encourage participation.
  • Provide instructional opportunities that are aligned with the existing curricular framework that will promote student understanding of human impacts on the use of natural resources.
  • Procure and use 5 star energy rated appliances.
  • Replace old appliances with 5 star energy rated appliances.
  • OPS green printer reduction strategies.

Water-Saving Strategies

  • Purchase Water Sense products when equipment needs replacing, include when designing and renovating spaces.
  • Water conservation through the use of low flush toilets, auto shut off taps.
  • Develop an annual leak inspection program as part of the plan, where a thorough walkthrough of the building is conducted to inspect for leaks.
  • Develop a poster campaign to help educate the school community on water-conserving behaviours such as repairing leaks, turning off the water while washing hands, avoiding overuse of air conditioning, etc.
  • Horticulture drought tolerant plantings on grounds where possible.

PSB Energy Conservation Challenges

  • Physical high needs population, additional toileting, pool foulings.
  • Cleaning is to hospital standard.
  • Lighting issues with low vision and Deaf requires that optimal lighting is available not only for orientation and mobility, but for access to information via ASL or print.
  • Braille Duxbury printers/ alternate format printer  high energy consumers.
  • AERO (Alternative Educational Resources Ontario) high energy use providing alternate format text to students to school age and post-secondary students across the province with perceptual difficulties (Operates 24 hours/7 days a week).
  • Community stakeholders use conference rooms, classrooms, gyms and pools after daily school programs end, also during weekends and over the summer hiatus.
  • Large number of facility rentals, the Deaf and Blind communities have a cultural tie to the schools and frequently request the use of facilities for a variety of Deaf and Blind community events; including summer programs, camps for deaf and blind, adult learning programs, ASL summer camps, conferences and alumni events.
  • In house laundry facilities supporting residential programs and pool programs.
  • Short term placement programs for the blind and low vision run continuously over 1 weekend each month at the W. Ross Macdonald School and residence.
  • W Ross Macdonald (Brantford) New Residence Construction: an increase in the overall site electrical power consumption is anticipated for the next two years. The construction and erection of the building requires addition demands on the site electrical consumption.  Electric power equipment and a large electrically powered tower crane will be used during construction of the residence. 

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