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Climate Ready Schools

Climate Ready Schools is Evergreen’s next stage of 30 years of intensive work to green Canadian school grounds.

Children playing at Irma Coulson Public School Image: Cam Collyer
Image: Cam Collyer

Schools are a significant component of public space in our cities and communities. They are hubs of learning and play where children grow, develop relationships with each other and the natural environment. They also provide a vital space for habitat restoration, community placemaking and environmental literacy. 

Though Canada’s school grounds cover hundreds of thousands of acres of land and are found in nearly every municipality, they are an underappreciated asset hiding in plain sight.  

How schools and their schoolgrounds are designed plays a major role in how a city or community will, or will not, adapt to climate change. Currently, school grounds that are mostly asphalt and concrete contribute to the Urban Heat Island Effect and are hotspots for flooding during storms. Not only are they uninviting to children and communities, but within the larger global context of climate change, it is essential to build resilience within our local communities to ensure that these landscapes serve a deeper ecological purpose. 

Evergreen’s Climate Ready Schools builds on our 30-year legacy of transforming schoolgrounds across the country into areas of green learning for both children and their community. The program is the next stage of our intensive work to green Canadian school grounds.

Children drawing school grounds
Design Planning Process, Evergreen.

With Climate Ready Schools, we bring best practices from around the world and combine them with the lessons and relationships built through the transformation of over 6,000 Canadian schools, which has impacted over one million students.

Canadian school grounds need to be redesigned for school communities and the natural world. With our child-friendly participatory design process, school communities create and champion a tailor-made solution for their community.

Based on our core principles, in each project we:  

  • Adapt to the changing climate through managing stormwater on site while respecting the ecological landscape 
  • Nurture child development: physically, intellectually, cognitively and socially 
  • Support a significant increase in outdoor play and learning and serve the community by adding value outside of school hours 

The Irma Coulson Public School Pilot:

Situated in Milton, Ontario, the Irma Coulson Public School (ICPS) Pilot is an engaging partnership with Evergreen’s Climate Ready Schools program and the Halton District School Board that is transforming ICPS's entire school ground into an outdoor learning hub. 

In collaboration with Berlin-based landscape architect, Birgit Teichmann, and Canadian landscape architects, the Irma Coulson Public School Pilot will integrate lessons from Berlin’s Sponge Schools project, designed to ensure that school grounds can absorb 100% of rainfall on the school site, while mitigating flood risk in their neighborhoods.

Evergreen’s team used a variety of stakeholder meetings, site walks and workshops to engage with students, the community and the administration through our participatory design process. This ensured crucial input from all stakeholders was incorporated into the plans for the new school ground. 

You can listen to the Masterplan Update with Birgit Teichmann in this video:

The Irma Coulson Public School Pilot will set an example of how Canadian school boards can extend the use of school grounds as a space for anyone to gather, relax, play and learn beyond school hours, and will also provide a sense of place that reflects the school community, building pride and ownership in public space through participation and stewardship.

Timeline of the pilotDid you know the Irma Coulson Climate Ready School Pilot was featured in Future Cities Canada: The Summit this year? You can watch the highlight reel, or the full session.

Learn more about the pilot today.