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KCI named third greenest school in Canada

Last Updated Sep 23, 2015 at 7:41 pm EST

Photo: Martin Bauman (570 News)

The third greenest school in Canada is here in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Remarkably, it’s right smack in the middle of the city.

Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate & Vocational School (better known as KCI) is getting national recognition for its green initiatives.

All this, despite being a century-old building.

KCI greenhouse

“You’ll never have a brand new building, but there’s ways you can incorporate some of those technologies to make it better,” says green industries teacher Patrick Rittinger, the driving force behind KCI’s green shift.

Under Rittinger’s watch, KCI has added an urban farmyard with chickens (and occasionally goats), a vegetable garden, a fruit tree orchard, a greenhouse, a green roof, a living wall, and a rainwater-harvesting setup.

Students learn to care for baby chicks and harvest eggs, grow all manner of herbs and vegetables, and make homes more energy-efficient.

KCI chickens

The annual award is given out by the Canada Green Building Council and the Canadian Coalition for Green Schools. Rittinger says he found out about the recognition on the first day of school.

“When something like this happens, you kind of stand back and say, ‘wow.’ It’s kind of amazing,” he says.

“When you’re coming to work everyday, and it’s something that you really enjoy and believe in, and you can feel like you’re making a difference, it’s pretty unique. Not everyone has that feeling.”