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Public sector buildings receive $2.8 million for solar panels

The Ministry of State for Climate Action announced $2.8 million in funding today for solar panel installation in hospitals, schools, and post-secondary institutions from the Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement.

"In 2010, B.C. will have the first carbon-neutral public sector in North America where every student will enter a carbon-neutral school and every patient will be cared for in a carbon-neutral hospital," reads a quote from Minister John Yap in a ministry press release.

"At the same time, these projects are helping to grow B.C.'s emerging solar technology market and create new jobs for British Columbians."

Twenty-four schools, nine colleges and universities, and five hospitals in the province will receive solar panel technology to reduce their reliance on natural gas and electric water heating systems. But more efficient hot water systems are not the main benefit, according to Education Minister George Abbott, who claims in the release that education about solar technology is the more important benefit because it will prepare kids for working with solar technologies in the future.

"Students get to witness the shift to energy efficiency, learn about the solar thermal systems, and eventually finish school accepting solar energy as a norm rather than the rarely-used energy source it is today," reads Abbott’s statement.

But whether the project can help make the province’s public sector carbon neutral by the end of December remains to be seen. B.C has one of the most progressive carbon reduction strategies in North America, according to Matt Horne, director of B.C. Energy Solutions at the Pembina Institute, but in order to achieve carbon neutrality in two months, we may have to rely more on offsets than reductions.

“The carbon neutral requirements have been controversial, and I don’t think anyone doubts the desire and the role for the public sector to play a leadership role on climate change,” Horne told The Tyee.

“We’ve been losing focus on those reduction projects—and this could be a really good one on that front, I’m not sure—but we’ve been losing focus on the reductions and become overly focused on offsets, in my mind. So thinking through as we move forward, how do we get the focus shifted squarely onto reductions in the public sector, as opposed to on offsets.”

The buildings receiving funding for solar panels include:  


  • Williams Lake and Horse Lake Elementary schools
  • Abbotsford Middle school and Robert Bateman Secondary
  • Burnsview and Seaquam Secondary schools in North Delta and Delta Secondary in Delta
  • David Thompson Secondary, Windermere Secondary, Sir Charles Tupper Secondary, Vancouver Technical Secondary and Lord Byng Secondary
  • Oliver Elementary and Southern Okanagan Secondary in Oliver
  • Dover Bay Secondary and John Barsby Community school in Nanaimo and Ladysmith Secondary
  • False Bay School on Lasqueti Island
  • Wickaninnish Community school in Tofino
  • Highland Secondary school in Comox
  • Timberline Secondary school in Campbell River
  • Chemainus, Cowichan and Frances Kelsey Secondary


  • Okanagan College: Skaha Residence in Kelowna and the Center of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energies Conservation at the Penticton campus
  • Royal Roads University: Millward Building in Victoria
  • Selkirk College: Kekuli Student Residence in Castlegar
  • The Justice Institute: Chilliwack Student Residence
  • Thompson Rivers University: Campus Activity Centre, the Culinary Arts Centre and the 'Old Main' building in Kamloops
  • University of British Columbia: MBA House


  • Victoria General Hospital, Saanich Peninsula Hospital (Saanichton) and Lady Minto Hospital on Saltspring Island
  • Penticton Regional Hospital and Summerland Memorial Health Centre Dr. Andrew Pavilion

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