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Southern Ontario students awarded $12,300 for sustainable solutions and innovations

Wednesday, April 12th 2006 11:30:35am

(Vaughan)  $12,300 was awarded to students for their sustainable solutions and innovations during Building a Sustainable Future Day, April 7, at the Earth Rangers Centre in Vaughan.  Over 120 people attended, including Acting U.S. Consul General Jeffrey Tunis, Ontario Minister of Energy Donna Cansfield, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of the Environment; John Wilkinson, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services; Ernie Parsons; Mayor Michael Di Biase of the City of Vaughan; and Simon Jackson of Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, to honour the award winning students and their work.

“I’m very impressed by the level of awareness and creativity that the finalists have shown today,” said Sally Moore of the Cement Association of Canada, the organization which coordinated Sustainable Future Day.  “The judges had to work hard to choose the winners.  In fact, an additional prize had to be added because they were so impressed.”

She continued, “There was obviously a lot of hard work and research put into the projects.  But most inspiring, along with highly innovative ideas, was the connection between the ideas and the viability of the projects, as there was great economic consideration given to their implementation, even in the projects at the high school level.  These students will undoubtedly transform our capacity for sustainability in the future, as they put their ideas into practice.”

The winning projects (see chart below) were those that proposed novel solutions to sustainability challenges; integrated technologies to enhance efficiencies; addressed key elements of sustainability features; and clearly identified sustainability goals.

Each York Region District School Board finalist received $250, with the 1st place winner receiving an additional $500.  Seneca College finalists each received $500, with the 1st place project entrant winning an additional $500.  And, each group project received $1000, with the winning group receiving an additional $500, which they were required to donate to an Indigenous project or community.

The Cement Association of Canada, which awarded the cash to the winning students and finalists, made an additional $15,000 donation to Earth Rangers on behalf of all the contest finalists.  Earth Rangers is a wildlife and education centre, and a world class veterinarian research and training hospital which houses Canada’s only oil spill response unit dedicated to wildlife.

“The Earth Rangers Centre building was an ideal location to hold Building a Sustainable Future Day, since it is a showcase environmental building that has a gold Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard rating,” added Moore.


York Region District School Board

Caitlin Urquhart
Aurora High School
1st place

Project - Green Equestrian Centre

This project is a re-invention of an existing barn.  The new design takes advantage of the thermal mass of concrete for heating and cooling, natural lighting and ventilation, renewable energy sources such as wind power and a sewage treatment system which produces usable methane gas, salvaged and recycled materials, and the efficient use of natural resources to create a self-sufficient green barn.

Brendon Irwin
Aurora High School
2nd place

Project - Cosy Forest: A Green Neighborhood

This project proposes an eco neighborhood comprising green homes surrounded by native trees, trails and creeks.  The homes will utilize straw bale construction, natural lighting designs, energy efficient appliances and connect to communal energy and sewage systems that will help save homeowners money.

Justin Apperley
Aurora High School
3rd place

Project - Green Building Design: Skateboard/Record Shop, "The Source"

This project involves converting an existing building into a "green" commercial building that appeals to teenagers' interests through a skateboard and record shop, while also educating, influencing, and creating employment opportunities.  The building will include many energy efficiency components, such as a green roof, radiant concrete floor heating, and systems for water collection, purification and treatment.

Centre for the Built Environment at Seneca College

John Vipond
1st place

Project - The Viper-Mizer = Sustainability

The 'Viper-Mizer' is an electric timer control valve that can help ice arenas save hot water and money.  This project shows the amount of hot water wasted due to overfilling Zambonis, or ice resurfacing machines, and proposes the Viper-Mizer to ensure maximum efficiency by controlling the water that goes into Zambonis.  Calculations show that across 1000 ice pads in Ontario in one year, 25,200,000 gallons of hot water are wasted due to overfilling.  The total yearly associated costs of the wasted water, heating, sewage and wages total $3,851,960, which the Viper-Mizer could potentially save.

Daina Marie Kennedy
2nd place

Project - Could hemp become our primary paper resource?

This project emphasizes the benefits of using hemp as an alternative source of fiber for paper.  Daina shows how hemp is a highly sustainable crop which meets environmental, economical, political and social criteria.   She questions why the benefits of hemp are not widely cultivated.

Harry Busch
Richmond Hill
3rd place

Project - Invest in a sustainable future

Harry designed a computer program called PAYBACK software, which calculates the payback period for investments in energy efficient appliances and lighting, and solar and wind power systems.  The program shows these types of investments to be both economically feasible and beneficial.

Trent University Indigenous Environmental Studies

Christina Hadekel

Paige Shaw

Dana Sykora
Caledon East

1st place

Project - An ecologically, socially and culturally sustainable approach to community health and food production

This project shows the relationship between traditional food, cultural revitalization, community nutrition and the environment.  More specifically, it shows how Aboriginal communities can ensure food security through equitable and sustainable community-based natural resource and management that is based on indigenous and local knowledge, culture and experience.


For more information, contact:

Amber Gordon, Earth Rangers, (905) 417-3447 ext. 2257,

Sally Moore, Cement Association of Canada, (416) 449-3708,

High resolution photos are available by contacting the above or online at

Please see the following sites for additional information:, and

For information on special guests:,,

Partners for Building a Sustainable Future Contest:

Earth Rangers, Cement Association of Canada (CAC), Ontario Concrete Pipe Association (OCPA), Centre for the Built Environment at Seneca College, EnerQuality/R2000, Ontario Masonry Training Centre (OMTC), Ready Mixed Concrete Association of Ontario (RMCAO), Trent University Indigenous Environmental Studies Programme, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc., York University Faculty of Environmental Studies; and York Region District School Board