Construction of fully-electric Sherwood school begins with goal of net-zero emissions

·3 min read

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — The construction of the new Sherwood Elementary School in Charlottetown is underway, and residents can expect exciting, new, eco-friendly changes in the building’s design.

The new school will be the first in the province to be fully electric and will emit net-zero greenhouse gases (GHG). The project falls in line with the provincial government’s goal of reaching net-zero GHG emissions by 2040.

It is being constructed with high-efficiency standards and can easily integrate solar panels, said Autumn Tremere, senior communications officer with the Department of Education, in a statement released to SaltWire Network on July 29.

“As a province, we are proud to be leading the country on this initiative. Working our way towards net-zero is how we will ensure a sustainable future for P.E.I.”

Construction for the building began in June next to the current school. So far, the land has been cleared, and five geothermal heating pumps have been installed around the property for heating during the winter.

About 10 construction companies are contracted to work on the school, including Island Coastal which is currently in the process of tearing out the old drains and putting in new ones.

The building will include 100 kilowatts of solar panels, which is designed to offset 25 per cent of the anticipated energy load. It will also include infrastructure to accept additional solar panels.

The design and system are 100 per cent electric but will not offset the energy used by the building until solar panels are installed.

Project manager Trevor Dyke said with the new advanced geothermal heating system, the new building will be much warmer in the winter than the old one.

“It’s a big advance to not have traditional oil-fire furnaces with the costs of oil. It’s going to make it more comfortable for everyone,” said Dyke as he took SaltWire Network on a tour of the site on Aug. 2.

P.E.I. purchases 60 per cent of its electricity from New Brunswick. With the new power system, the school will produce less energy, which will be less costly for the province in the long run.

“With the amount of power we buy from New Brunswick, this will be a lot easier on our systems because we do have a limited generating capacity,” said Dyke.

So far, construction is going according to schedule with minimal setbacks. The school is expected to be complete by late spring 2024, with classes set to resume in September of that year.

Until then, classes will continue at the current Sherwood school.

The playground equipment – although currently removed – will be salvaged where possible.

“All the old metal from the jungle gym will be re-used,” said Dyke.

The children will play at the front of the school and be taken more frequently to neighbouring parks until construction is complete.

The hope with the build is to show the world that you can achieve great things without hurting the environment, he added.

“We think we can lead the province in showing there is a future in building schools like this.”

The province’s long-term plans are outlined in its Net Zero Framework.

Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian

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