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Canada Joins Healthy Schools Push

green apple day service

The green building industry in Canada has joined the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and others in the push toward healthier schools and better physical learning environments.

This Saturday, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is celebrating the building of green, healthy schools in Canada by joining USGBC in the Green Apple Day of Service, a day in which parents, teachers, students and healthy school advocates from around the world will join to take part in a range of projects to clean up schools and improve the environment on their local school grounds.

The Day of Service is the first project in the Green Apple initiative, a program launched earlier this week and backed by the Clinton Global Initiative, USGBC and a number of private companies to improve the learning environment in schools across the world.

The new initiative will feature a range of programs around school grounds, including the plantation of new gardens; lighting, water use and indoor air quality audits; programs to promote recycling and green nutrition programs.

While primarily aimed at showing teachers, students, parents and school administrators how to make best use of their environment using their existing facilities rather than focusing on new buildings and infratructure, the CaGBC said the new program complements existing efforts regarding sustainable design and construction of new schools and new school infrastructure.

CaGBC president and CEO Thomas Mueller said that with 461 educational facilities now registered for LEED certification across the country, the number of environmentally friendly school and university buildings across Canada has grown dramatically over the past decade.

planting“By encouraging school boards to consider building or retrofitting schools to green building standards, Canada’s students are given the opportunity to thrive in healthier learning environments,” he said. “Strategies such as bringing fresh air into class rooms, reducing chemical exposure and providing access to daylight have positive effects on students.”

Muller cited the LEED Gold certified Eleanor W. Graham School in Rexton, New Brunswick as one positive example. That 57-year old school was built from the ground up using 25 per cent recycled materials and 40 per cent regional materials, and provides natural daylight to 86 per cent of learning space, including a central atrium space and a gymnasium

Keith Robertson, president of Halifax-based green design consulting firm Solterre Design said there are still many opportunities for education and awareness surrounding how the built environment affects the natural environment.

“What better way than to provide examples for the next generations to learn from and expand upon?” Robertson asked.

Apart from the CaGBC and USGBC, other organisations involved with the Green Apple program include textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin (HMH), building industry and aerospace technology provider United Technologies Corporation (UTC), tiles and commercial flooring company Interface, hand dryer manufacturer Excel Dryer, floor covering, ceiling systems and technical insulation products manufacturer Armstrong and Solar City, a solar power provider.

By Andrew Heaton
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