In a commendable effort spanning six years, the students of New Myrnam School (NMS) have undertaken a series of projects aimed at reducing their carbon footprint and leading their community towards sustainability. The culmination of their hard work was celebrated on November 30, as ATCO announced the recipients of their 2023 Clean Energy Community Fund.
Since its inception, the NMS sustainability initiative has evolved from a sustainable greenhouse project to transformative ventures such as renewable energy systems, hydroponic growing technologies, and repurposing electric golf carts for community use. Notably, the students turned a retired school bus into a net-zero tiny home, with an expected completion date of June 2024.
In the latest chapter of their green journey, the NMS Team Net Zero, in partnership with the Village of Myrnam, secured $5,000 in funding from ATCO to go towards their solar array project to power the Career and Technology Education Centre (CTEC). Melanie Bayley, President of ATCO Electric, expressed pride in supporting organizations committed to decarbonization and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
The collaboration between NMS and the Village of Myrnam yielded impressive results. Two ground-mounted solar panels were installed, supplementing the existing roof-mounted panel on the CTEC. According to the Village, this initiative has significantly reduced dependency on fossil fuels and emissions.
The ambitious “Leading Our Community Towards Net Zero” project, spearheaded by students who conducted a forensic energy audit, focuses on transforming the CTEC facility into a net-zero electrical energy building. The project includes energy efficiency improvements on the building’s HRV units, further solidifying the commitment to environmental sustainability.
Mayor Donna Rudolf of Myrnam highlighted the positive impact on the community, emphasizing that the solar panels will not only slash the village’s power bill but also contribute to its viability and sustainability. The engagement of students in council meetings has raised their social consciousness, leading to enthusiastic brainstorming of new eco-friendly and environmentally responsible ideas.
Principal Danielle Eriksen expressed immense pride in the students, acknowledging their dedication to tackling complex tasks with collaboration.
“Team Net Zero started with the challenge of turning the village-owned CTEC facility next to the school into a net zero facility. The students did an energy audit of the building, presented to the Village council on how they could reduce energy usage, and worked out the size of solar array necessary to get to net zero. It was a labour of love for a year and a half. It was hours of research, interviews, and grant writing. They should be proud of the work they’ve done and the legacy this project will leave behind when they graduate,” commented Eriksen.
The NMS legacy of environmental stewardship is evident in their ongoing projects, and the recent ATCO grant recognizes and supports their commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable future.