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Solar panels slated for Jasper high school roof

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The Jasper Joint School Facility will soon get a sustainable energy boost, with the installation of solar panels.

In 2013, former Jasper Junior/Senior High School student Jasmine Payant was the grand prize winner in the Enmax Energy Challenge, garnering a number of prizes, including $10,000 worth of solar panels, which have since been in storage. The Jasper Sustainability Club for Youth had intended to use the panels on a sustainable classroom, but with the SEED project taking longer than expected to come to fruition, the club has decided to install the panels on the school.

“We need to use them while they’re still current,” said Betsy DeClercq, Jasper’s school trustee. “So our superintendent has talked to Clark Builders, who built the school, and they’ve agreed to [install them].”

The joint school facility, which opened its doors in September 2014, was built with the necessary infrastructure to support geothermal and solar power, in the off chance that funding ever became available to pursue alternative energy sources.

The infrastructure was included at the request of the sustainability club, which was involved in the planning and design of the school and had originally hoped the facility would become the province’s first net-zero school. Although the club didn’t achieve that goal, the school was built with a number of sustainable features, including the capability for sustainable energy sources.

DeClercq said she’s excited to see the solar panels added to the school’s roof and to see the sustainability club continuing its efforts to make the school more energy efficient.

“The sustainability kids and the alumni are so steadfast in their commitment to a greener footprint for the school; they’ve just been amazing,” she said.

As well as making the school more energy efficient, the solar panels will also be used as a learning tool  by both the Jasper Junior/Senior High School and École Desrochers, whose students will be able to use iPads to monitor the energy produced by the panels.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Magda Mahler, a member of the parent group supporting the sustainability club in its efforts to bring a SEED classroom to town.

“It’s great to have a green school, but it’s really important to have the green learning component, as well.”

The sustainability club is currently awaiting an assessment that will determine where the panels will be placed and is contemplating whether it should purchase additional panels in order to have a greater impact on the school’s energy usage.

Mahler said if the club decides to purchase more it will apply for grants to help with the cost.

She also noted that, although the solar panels are going on the school, the sustainability club is still committed to bringing a SEED classroom to town.

“I think it will happen,” said Mahler. “It’s just taking longer than everybody thought.”

Nicole Veerman

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