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Greater Sudbury

EarthCare Sudbury Partner Profile

Rainbow District School Board

The Organization

Rainbow SchoolsThe largest public school board in Northern Ontario, Rainbow District School Board has forty elementary schools and nine secondary schools offering programs in English, Core French and French Immersion. Forty of these schools are located in Greater Sudbury. 

The Projects

Sustainability is one of the Rainbow District School Board's priorities. Towards Tomorrow Together, the Strategic Board Improvement Plan states: 'Sound environmental practices will be in place to support global thinking at a local level. The focus will be on sustainability for now and for the future.”

Rainbow Schools Go Green

Education for sustainable development was introduced in Rainbow Schools in partnership with the Dearness Environmental Society in 2000. At that time, Dearness Conservation was offered as a curriculum-based Grade 5 or Grade 9 level program aimed at engaging students and staff in activities that promote energy efficient practices and environmentally-friendly behaviour. It has since evolved into a much larger education initiative, with the goal of fostering sustainability at school, at home and in the community. 

One of the strengths of the Dearness Conservation program is its flexibility. Over the years, Rainbow District School Board has encouraged schools to take ownership of the program. As a result, schools have implemented initiatives that reflect the needs and interests of their school community. The teachers who are most passionate about the environment now lead the activities at their school. This has proven to be a winning strategy.

Like other schools participating in Dearness Conservation, Rainbow Schools conduct energy audits, have litterless lunches, implement Lights Off! Monitors Off! campaigns and run poster contests. They also hold year-end celebrations. The best performing classes and schools are rewarded with funding for special initiatives such as re-greening projects or environmental field trips to places like the recycling centre, Science North or the Mattawa Ecology Centre. 

The Dearness Conservation audits conducted in Rainbow Schools confirmed the need to implement a campaign to replace incandescent lighting with fluorescent lighting in all schools. An energy performance contractor has been hired to help develop a comprehensive strategy to guide infrastructure retrofits. Rainbow District School Board also piloted Dearness Conservation's Interactive Home Audit, an online tool that generates a profile of energy and water usage in a home and offers efficiency measures to homeowners to reduce energy consumption.  This Interactive Home Audit was introduced in all school boards in the City of Greater Sudbury in 2006.

Environmental activities in many of the Rainbow Board's schools, however, have gone beyond the Dearness Conservation framework.  For example, Churchill Public School is helping with the Junction Creek Stewardship Committee's creek clean up efforts, Long Lake Public School has created and maintains a butterfly garden, students from Lasalle Secondary School, Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School and Manitoulin Secondary School travelled to Costa Rica to set up solar panels, and Confederation Secondary School was inspired to start a hydroponics program. R.L Beattie Public School and Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School are also participating in an Organics Collection pilot project in partnership with the City of Greater Sudbury. 
To reflect its focus on sustainability and bring greater visibility and unity to these efforts, Rainbow District School Board has given its environmental initiatives a unique brand. All environmental activities, including those that were once ‘Dearness Conservation' initiatives, now fall under the umbrella of ‘Rainbow Schools Go Green'. A committee of Board representatives, elementary and secondary teachers, principals and custodians has been established to support Go Green initiatives at the Board level and maintain the partnership with the Dearness Environmental Society.

Valley View Public School

Valley View Public School, Rainbow District School Board's first new school in 40 years, is a model for sustainable development as a high performance green school. When the school opened in September 2007, it became the first green school in Northern Ontario, a flagship school for environmental efficiency and stewardship.

Built on the site of the old Valley View Public School in Val Caron, the new school houses JK to Grade 1 students from Val Caron Public School and Grade 2 to 8 students from Valley View Public School. The school can accommodate 500 students in the French Immersion program. Rainbow District School Board opted for a sustainable design to promote environmental awareness within the school and the community, create a healthier environment for students and staff, and minimize operating expenses in the 65,000 square foot building.
Valley View Public School incorporates industry best practices for resource consumption, waste management, building materials and interior environmental quality. It features occupancy sensors, radiant floor heating, a water reuse system, low-flow washroom fixtures, a geothermal energy system, and windows on the north and south faces of the building that optimize natural light and passive solar heating. The school has retroplated concrete floors with recycled glass chips collected by students. Wood beams from the old school, which has been demolished, are being used for interior benches and design accents in the new building. Brick from the old school is being crushed and reused as ground cover in the garden areas of the new school.        

Achievements and Outcomes

  • Inclusiveness has been a key factor in the success of the Rainbow District School Board's environmental efforts. Initiatives extend well beyond teachers delivering environmental lessons to students in a classroom setting. All of the Rainbow District School Board's stakeholders have a part to play, including parents/guardians and the community at large. 
  • With the system-wide campaign to switch all incandescent lighting to fluorescent lighting, Rainbow will be the first school board in Greater Sudbury to go incandescent free.
  • Rainbow District School Board's overall energy cost savings since the inception of Go Green initiatives in 2003 total approximately $468,316.00. Consumption savings amount to 900,022 kWh for hydro, 786,564 cubic meters for gas and 5,714 GJ for oil and propane.
  • More savings are imminent with the construction of the new Valley View Public School. The school's geothermal energy system provides four units of energy for every unit purchased from conventional sources, and is more efficient than any other conventional heating and cooling system. A grey water system re-circulates about 70% of the water used in school toilets through a wetland biofilter. The school is not connected to the municipal sanitary sewer system.   
  • By participating in the City's Organics Collection pilot project, R.L Beattie Public School has reduced its garbage in half. Garbage pick up is only required every three weeks. 
  • With the assistance of the Dearness Environmental Society, the Rainbow District School Board developed a website that provides information on the Board's progress in reducing energy consumption.  As Rainbow Schools achieve more milestones with ‘Go Green' programs, the website will continue to be updated.

Key Partners:

  • The project team for Valley View Public School includes representation from the following companies and organizations: Castellan James + Partners Architects Inc, Dearness Environmental Society, LKM SNC Lavalin, Ecoworks Technologies Inc, Northland Engineering Ltd., Halsall Associates Ltd., Bill Fryer Landscape Architect, Ameresco Canada, and Vale Inco.
  • Dearness Environmental Society and Union Gas Ltd. are the Board's key ‘Go Green' partners.  

Implementation of the EarthCare Sudbury Local Action Plan (LAP):

  • Youth and the Environment
    Environmental education is a key component of the classroom curriculum and extra-curricular activities throughout Rainbow District School Board.  Students in Rainbow Schools are learning by example and gaining daily experience on how to be environmental stewards.
  • Industrial, Commercial Institutional Sector
    Rainbow District School Board is not only taking action to retrofit existing school buildings, with the construction of Valley View Public School, the Board has also become a champion for sustainable development throughout Northern Ontario. 


Key Contact:  Sandi Ackroyd, Assistant Plant Manager – Special Projects
Address:  69 Young Street, Sudbury, ON
Phone:  705-674-3171 ext. 7260

Key Contact:  Danielle Williamson, Vice-Principal, Northeastern Elementary School
Address:  45 Spruce Street, Garson, ON
Phone:  705-693-2110