April 30, 2024

Beyond a blueprint: a closer look at Climate Ready Schools


Climate Ready Schools benefit the health and well-being of students and their community and benefit the climate resilience of the school ground.

What is a Climate Ready School? 

Climate Ready Schools (CRS) embody a multi-solving approach, enhancing learning opportunities, fostering children’s health and well-being and bolstering climate resilience. Through innovations in design, construction, community engagement and professional development, Climate Ready Schools offer a suite of benefits to students, communities and the environment. 

Inspired by Berlin’s Sponge School Strategy, Climate Ready Schools are engineered to absorb water and adapt effectively to heatwaves and extreme weather events. Central to their design philosophy is the emphasis on achieving a balance between soft and hardscape areas, facilitating the absorption of stormwater runoff. These schools prioritize the use of vegetation to mitigate flooding, provide shade and cooling and diminish wind speed, thereby enhancing thermal comfort through the strategic placement of trees, shrubs, and soft surfaces like sand, mulch and gardens. 

What is multi-solving? 

The design of a Climate Ready School involves bringing together many priorities and goals. Design decisions are made to reflect the interests and perspectives of the school community through direct engagement during the design process. Priority areas for the design of a climate ready school include:  

  • Resilient infrastructure 
  • Child development 
  • Outdoor learning 
  • Community use 
  • Participation 

What are the benefits of a Climate Ready School? 

Beyond their functional aspects, Climate Ready Schools grounds are conceived as dynamic, living landscapes that nurture children’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. A fundamental goal of their design is to invest ample time and effort into co-creating an environment with and for children, where students feel deeply cared for and have a sense of belonging. 

Climate Ready Schools benefit the health and well-being of students and their community. 

  • The presence of natural elements exerts a calming influence and amplifies the sensory experiences of the school environment. Varied topography and abundant vegetation serve as catalysts for curiosity and physical activity. 
  • They elevate the play value of the school environment, thereby positively influencing social behavior. By dispersing students across engaging activities that align with their interests, instances of social conflict are markedly reduced. 
  • They enhance the utilization of school grounds by the broader community beyond school hours, thus expanding recreational opportunities and fostering stronger social connections within the school community. 

Climate Ready Schools benefit the learning and educational outcomes for students and their community. 

  • Enriched outdoor learning opportunities foster a deep connection with nature. 
  • Diversified play opportunities bolster physical literacy, ensuring that children engage in a spectrum of experiences that promote the development of strength, balance, coordination and spatial awareness. 

Climate Ready Schools benefit the climate resilience of the school ground. 

  • Biodiversity is increased through the planting of native vegetation like trees and shrubs.  
  • Drainage on school grounds is improved through stormwater management. 
  • Flooding and soil erosion are reduced through increased vegetation. 
  • The use of natural assets is prioritized in the construction and development of the school grounds. 

Climate Ready School Wheel

How can we get involved? 

Evergreen is expanding the Climate Ready Schools program with school boards across Canada to demonstrate how these design principles can be adapted to different settings, climates, schools and communities. Simultaneously, Evergreen is committed to supporting the growth of the design, engineering and education professions so that our vision of great Canadian school grounds can become a reality. 

Are you interested in supporting the Climate Ready Schools program? Are you representing a school board interested in your own Climate Ready Schools journey? Please send your inquiries to We’d love to hear from you!  

Want to learn more? Check out our wealth of resources on the Evergreen Resource Hub! 

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