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Two P.E.I. schools first in province to receive net-zero upgrades

The two schools will have solar and geothermal technology installed

IMAGE: Sherwood school rendering
A rendering of the future Sherwood Elementary School building in Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Courtesy the Government of P.E.I.)

Cardigan Consolidated and Sherwood Elementary schools in Prince Edward Island are the first in the province to receive net-zero upgrades, including solar and geothermal technology.

In the case of Sherwood, construction began in July 2022 and will result in a new building accommodating 650 students opening summer 2024.

Cardigan, meanwhile, is scheduled to reopen in 2025. Both schools are located in Charlottetown.

Releases refer to Sherwood as being "net-zero ready", while Cardigan is touted as becoming the province’s first net-zero retrofitted school.

“Specifically for the schools, the idea of a centralized geothermal system was most appealing for the public school branch, as it met their energy and electrification goals and still allows their maintenance personnel to maintain the majority of the system,” a spokesperson with P.E.I.'s Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action told SustainableBiz via an email exchange.

“Geothermal is also proven across our province, has a long lifespan and lower life-cycle cost in comparison to other systems.”

All of the P.E.I. Public Schools Branch's new builds, additions and major renovations will have some focus on greening, the board has pledge.

P.E.I.’s public school retrofits

At Cardigan, oil boilers will be replaced with a ground-source geothermal system that will lower the total greenhouse gas emissions. A 100-kilowatt solar array will electrify the facility.

As they are public schools, the province is in charge of the retrofit efforts. It has sent tenders out to contractors for the various jobs involved.

A tender for Cardigan Consolidated's solar retrofits was put out earlier this year. It was won by Charlottetown-based Hansen Solar Energy Ltd. for $205,000.

According to the CBC, the Cardigan retrofits will cost $1.8 million. The primary focus is solar and geothermal technology, but LED lighting may be added at a later date to help reduce the energy usage of the building.

Since Sherwood is a new facility, more features and technologies are involved. These include triple-glazed low-E argon windows, increased roof insulation, energy recovery ventilators, building air leakage, lighting control technology, domestic water heating and, like Cardigan, solar and geothermal technology. 

APM MacLean, headquartered in Brackley, P.E.I., is the construction manager for Sherwood.

The tender for the geothermal well drilling contract at Sherwood was won by Moore Well Drilling Inc., also based in Charlottetown, for $274,747.

In its 2022 budget, the P.E.I. government announced it is investing $10 million over five years into improving the energy efficiency of government buildings. There is also $51.3 million set aside to add 25 electric school buses to the existing fleet each year to stay on track with the province’s plan of having an electric fleet by 2030.

Under P.E.I.'s Net-zero Carbon Act, the province needs to reduce emissions to 1,200 kilotonnes or less by 2030. It has also pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2040

Eliot River Elementary School in Cornwall, P.E.I. is also currently being renovated, including the installation of a geothermal system.

The future Stratford High School is also planning to incorporate a geothermal system and a 100 kilowatt solar array.

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