About EcoSchools Canada in Alberta
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is EcoSchools?
- Why should my school become an EcoSchool?
- Who can join?
- How much does it cost?
- How do I register?
- What is the role of students?
- How do schools certify?
- How does certification work during COVID?
- Why and how do school districts participate?
- Why and how do municipalities participate?
- If EcoSchools Canada is a national program, what is ACEE’s role?
- What is the story of EcoSchools Canada in Alberta?
- Where can I get more information?
What is EcoSchools?
EcoSchools is a global sustainability certification program for K-12 schools with 56,000 participating schools in 70 countries. EcoSchools Canada is Canada's largest school certification program, reaching over 3,000 schools and 1,000,000 students annually.
EcoSchools provides teachers with a framework to engage their students and entire school community in action-based learning around environmental sustainability and climate solutions. Schools create customized action plans by selecting among 45+ available actions relating to a range of sustainability topics including nature and biodiversity, energy, waste, water, and food. Each action comes with its own action guide making it easy for teachers and students to get started. As schools implement these actions, they earn points toward bronze, silver, gold or platinum level certification. Most importantly, schools become active players in helping their community become more sustainable.
EcoSchools Canada supports school communities as they:
- Build environmental leadership and capacity among students, staff and communities
- Mitigate climate change by improving operational efficiency of school buildings and behaviour change
- Recognize achievements and excellence through robust reporting and a collective impact framework
Support Canada's commitment to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals
Learn about Indigenous perspectives on sustainability
As EcoSchools Canada's delivery partner in Alberta, the Alberta Council for Environmental Education provides on-the-ground support to schools and teachers by:
- Offering EcoSchools information sessions and professional learning opportunities to teachers
- Providing ongoing, one-on-one support
- Making connections to municipal sustainability and climate action plans
- Connecting teachers to curriculum links, resources and programs
- Connecting teachers to each other
For more information about the framework, view the 18-minute Intro to EcoSchools 2020-2021 Webinar video.
EcoSchools Canada in Alberta does not seek to replace or compete with the many excellent environmental education programs that are available in Alberta. Rather, it provides a framework for encouraging and incentivizing school engagement in action-based learning around the environment and climate solutions. Schools can earn points by participating in the many outstanding programs offered by Alberta’s environmental education community.
EcoSchools is free for all publicly funded schools and is available in both official languages.
Why should my school become an EcoSchool?
Whether your school is a leader in environmental stewardship or you are just starting your journey, the EcoSchools Canada in Alberta program offers many benefits:
- A step-by-step process for creating a flexible environmental and climate action plan that supports real-world, community-based plans and strategies
- Links to local programs and resources to help you complete actions
- Links to the Alberta curriculum and to Indigenous perspectives
- A user-friendly online platform that allows you to track your progress and impact
- Opportunity to network, share, and celebrate with other schools, teachers and students
- Youth-led mentoring with the Alberta Youth Leaders for Environmental Education (AYLEE)
Ongoing, on-the-ground support for Alberta schools provided through ACEE
Who can join?
Any school in Alberta can join EcoSchools Canada by registering on the online platform. Once registered, schools can access the library of actions and associated action guides, create a plan, and start earning points toward certification. To register, go to: https://app.ecoschools.ca/school. To receive updates on local opportunities around EcoSchools, subscribe to our monthly EcoNotes newsletter.
How much does it cost?
The EcoSchools Canada certification platform is free for all publicly funded schools, including public, separate, charter and francophone schools.
School districts may, optionally, gain administrator access to the platform for a modest fee. This allows school districts to track the individual and collective actions and impacts of the schools within their district and receive year-end impact reports specific for their district. Through EcoSchools Canada in Alberta, ACEE is able to offer platform access to school districts in Calgary and Alberta’s Capital Region for the 2021/22 school year.
How do I register?
- Use your board or district email address to register on the EcoSchools Certification Application.
- Students and volunteers need to be registered by a staff member from your school.
- You will be able to look up your school by address or name.
- If your school is new to the system, click Can’t find your school? You will want your school name, address, board or district, phone number, enrolment number, and number of teaching staff to register.
- To get started on the platform, you can simply select to create your own plan, and browse the library of actions to choose those that match with your school’s interests and priorities. Actions can be added and removed throughout the year as needed.
You may find the Sustainability Review a useful tool to begin your journey - and our Program Managers are here to support you directly.
What is the role of students?
EcoSchools Canada in Alberta encourages students not only to get involved but also to become environmental and climate solutions leaders within their school community. All students are encouraged to lead, implement, and report on EcoSchools actions within their school.
Teachers can add students to their school account so they can be directly involved in:
- Perusing the library of 45+ EcoActions and selecting actions for their school’s Eco-plan
Answering the certification questions for each action. Only school staff can submit these answers for certification.
To protect student privacy, several security measures are in place on the online platform. Students can choose to use a pseudonym instead of their real name. Unlike teachers, there is no opportunity for students to enter their email address or any other contact information into the system. The names of registrants (including staff and students) are never made publicly available or shared with third parties other than EcoSchools Canada, the Alberta Council for Environmental Education and representatives of respective school districts.
Grade 7-12 students are also encouraged to join the Alberta Youth Leaders for Environmental Education (AYLEE). Many of our existing AYLEE members have worked on action projects before and would love to share their expertise with you and your students! K-6 teachers, and students of all grades can access AYLEE mentorship by joining their Mentoring Slack channel.
How do schools certify?
See the Certification FAQ from EcoSchools Canada for more information and short how-to videos.
Once a member of a school has registered on the online platform, the path to certification looks like this:
- Choose a plan to explore the library of actions. This plan is flexible and can be changed at any time by adding or removing actions. Schools can also create their own actions. See our planning resources for more information.
- Implement actions. Your EcoTeam can be made up of any number of teachers, staff, and students.
- Earn points as you go along by answering the certification questions for each action. Students can access the certification platform and draft submissions for teachers to approve.
- Once an action is completed and all questions are answered, you submit the information for points toward certification.
- Schools must apply for certification by mid-May each year.
Applications are reviewed by the EcoSchools Canada team and certifications are awarded in June.
EcoSchools Canada sends out a regular “CertTips” newsletter to all registered schools, providing them with just-in-time information to guide them through the certification process as the school year unfolds.
How does certification work during COVID?
All EcoSchools actions can be modified for in-person, cohort, hybrid, and remote learning. EcoSchools Canada has you covered with more information here.
Why and how do school districts participate?
The key benefits to school districts are support for real-world learning about local and global issues, reductions in facilities costs through the collective impact of energy use and waste reduction actions, and improvement of staff and student wellness.
School districts support EcoSchools Canada in Alberta by including notices in newsletters and other outreach, and having representatives participate in bimonthly advisory committee meetings (if you are interested, contact us).
Why and how do municipalities participate?
Our pilot partner, the City of Calgary, recognizes three main opportunities: youth benefit from real-world learning about local and global issues, communities can be effectively engaged through in-school projects, and schools and related activities make up a large number of buildings and vehicles in the city, presenting a large opportunity for meeting climate targets.
Municipalities can support teachers by making age-appropriate connections between Alberta curriculum and municipal strategies, and raising awareness of the EcoSchools program in their public outreach. Municipal representatives can optimize the outcomes of the program by participating in bimonthly advisory committee meetings (if you are interested, contact us).
If EcoSchools Canada is a national program, what is ACEE’s role?
As the on-the-ground delivery partner for EcoSchools Canada in Alberta, ACEE’s role is to engage and support Alberta’s school community, and liaise between school districts, municipalities, and environmental education providers. We consult with a community-based advisory group and regularly offer information sessions to interested parties.
We provide ongoing support to teachers and students every step of the way as they register on the online platform, create an Eco-plan, implement actions, and apply for certification. We also work to identify links to the Alberta curriculum and collaborate with the environmental education community to identify local resources and programs that can support completion of each of EcoSchools actions. Throughout the year, we offer a variety of professional development opportunities for teachers to help them gain confidence in incorporating environmental education and action-based learning into their everyday teaching.
What is the story of EcoSchools Canada in Alberta?
In 2018, the City of Calgary adopted its Climate Resilience Strategy and the multi-stakeholder Calgary Climate Panel was formed to assist the City in implementing its new climate action plan. A subcommittee of this panel, Calgary Schools for Climate Action, was created to find ways to engage Calgary’s school community in real-world climate solutions linked to the City’s climate action plan. The goal was to create a framework for collective action that fosters a common sense of purpose and civic pride and helps students feel hope for the future through purposeful action.
EcoSchools Canada, with its powerful online platform, proved to be the perfect fit and a partnership was forged between the City of Calgary, EcoSchools Canada, and the Alberta Council for Environmental Education. Our pilot project, Calgary EcoSchools, was successfully carried out in 2020-21. While COVID made it difficult to complete hands-on action projects and achieve certification, there was nonetheless strong interest in the program, with 64 teachers from 40 schools registering on the platform. Six schools managed to achieve certification (1 Bronze, 2 Gold, and 3 Platinum) and two more schools were recognized as participants. Calgary EcoSchools was made possible by generous funding from Energy Efficiency Alberta, Alberta Ecotrust, RBC Foundation, and the Calgary Foundation.
Building on our success in Calgary, the Edmonton Community Foundation funded the 2021 expansion to Alberta’s Capital Region, allowing ACEE to hire a Program Manager specifically for this region.
EcoSchools Canada is available to all schools throughout Alberta, and the platform is free for all publicly funded schools. In the 2020-21 school year, a number of schools from outside Calgary participated in the program independently. ACEE’s long-term goal is to be able to support all schools throughout Alberta in becoming EcoSchools.
Where can I get more information?
How can I stay informed?
Sign up to the EcoNotes monthly newsletter.
Our Partners and Supporters
We are grateful to our delivery partners and funders for helping us bring EcoSchools Canada to Alberta and making it relevant to our communities.
We invite other organizations to support this important work - please contact Senior Education Advisor Marie Tremblay at: marie [at] abcee.org to discuss.