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Apr 22
Earth Day 2021: 'Simple actions can really add up'

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Protecting our planet has always been the focus of Earth Day, and this year, Surrey Schools is finding ways for students, staff and parents to aid this year's environmental campaign to Take Care of the Planet every day.

April 22 marks the 51st Earth Day since its inception in 1970, which has grown to see 193 countries participate in Earth Day activities every year. While the pandemic has made it challenging to carry out student campaigns this past school year, the district has made strides in energy savings with the opening of new schools such as Douglas Elementary, Edgewood Elementary and Maddaugh Road Elementary.

"New schools typically behave a lot better in terms of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions," said David McKee, manager of the district's Energy Management & Sustainability department. "They usually emit about one-third compared to older schools."

One standout project is the conversion of Jessie Lee Elementary's rooftop natural gas heating units to hybrid models that also use electrical heat pumps to provide heat, resulting in a 50% drop in natural gas use.

"We have a pretty low carbon source of electricity in B.C., so any replacement of natural gas sees a great reduction," said McKee.

McKee shared a few ways students, teachers and parents can help the environment in class and at home for Earth Day:

Battery recycling

  • Each school should have or can make a small container (for 50 AA, AAA, C, and D-sizes) to collect used batteries.
  • It is suggested that the used battery container is well-labelled, put in the main office, and that an email is sent to caretakers and teachers to let them know batteries can be recycled
  • Once the collection container is full, put them in a small cardboard box and call Transport who they will take them to Facilities for recycling

 

Lights off after work

  • Teachers are permitted to turn their classroom lights off when they leave at the end of the day. This helps save energy until the caretakers need to turn the lights on for cleaning

 

Remove car carriers & racks to reduce gas costs

  • As winter is over, you may not need the ski box or rack on the car and if you use if for a couple of weeks of camping, remove when not needed as such carriers can reduce your fuel economy by 11-19%, depending on your vehicle style.
  • At an average 15% reduction in fuel economy, that is like paying $1.72 per litre of gas. Put another way, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emission and driving costs by 15%.  

 

"It's just a reminder of what people can do to save energy," said McKee. "It can seem like it's hard to make a difference, but some simple actions can really add up."

For more actions you can take for Earth Day at home, visit the official Earth Day Canada website or check out our SD36 Sustainability website.

For more information on saving energy and recycling, visit BC Hydro, FortisBC and the City of Surrey's Waste Collection Services page.

Every little bit helps – please do your part!

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