Architecture Canada n°6 1er semestre 2009
Architecture Canada n°6 1er semestre 2009
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  • Parution : n°6 de 1er semestre 2009

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www.raic.org/2009 PHOTO : MARGARET KENT Sustainable Schools Penny’s green lane to sustainable schools By Christopher Guly SHEILA PENNY, FRAIC, has many steps to take in reaching her goal to have Toronto’s public schools leave behind a zero carbon footprint As executive offi cer of the Facilities Services department for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the 51-year-old, Winnipeg-born architect is responsible for 650 buildings, of which 558 are schools. That amounts to a real estate portfolio of 48 million square feet (about 4.5 million square metres). Most of that space, or 43 million square feet (about 4 million square metres) of it, is used for teaching. Penny’s challenge is to make all of those schools green. Shortly after the Ontario government amalgamated seven municipalities in 1998 to formthe new mega-city of Toronto, the TDSB passed an environmental policy that would link how schools were run to what students learnin them. The program was called EcoSchools and 264 schools in Canada’s largest public school system have since received bronze, silver or gold certifi cation under the LEED-like initiative. « EcoSchools has two principal objectives for facilities : they have to conserve energy and minimize waste, » says Penny, who also oversees a staff of about 3,300 employees. The target is for every school to reduce the amount of waste sent to a landfill site by 1 2 3 30 per cent and decrease the use of electricity and natural gas by 12 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. Already, the program has resulted in signifi cant declines in both consumption and spending. For instance, between 2002 and 2005 the school board’s gas consumption dropped by 7.8 per cent while electricity use declined by 5.3 per cent, resulting in about $5 million in savings. Just by promoting recycling, an EcoSchool at the secondary level can save almost $60,000 a year while a certifi ed elementary school can cut annual spending by nearly $35,000, according to Penny. She points out that cost reductions are sometimes realized in relatively small ways. For instance, by simply putting its estimated 60,000 computers on stand-by mode when not in use, the TDSB can save 11 per cent on the cost of running its network, or almost $4 million annually. The school board is now piloting a more comprehensive program called Project Shut Down, through which all computers would be completely turned off overnight, on weekends and during holidays. 34 ■ THE ROYAL ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTE OF CANADA/L’INSTITUT ROYAL D’ARCHITECTURE DU CANADA Other energy conservation standards are in place. When rooms are not in use, or there’s enough natural light, lights are to be turned off. Windows and curtains need to be closed at the end of the school day. Since its inception in Toronto a decade ago, EcoSchools has been implemented in 540 schools in 26 school boards and conservation authorities throughout Ontario to promote waste minimization, energy conservation, school-ground greening and ecological literacy. A total of 31 school boards are at various stages of implementing EcoSchools. « From an educational perspective, Eco- Schools fosters leadership and teamwork, and offers curriculum opportunities for kids that help them understand how to conserve, how to minimize waste, how to be responsible ecologically, » says Penny. 1 Sheila Penny | 2 ThomasL. Wells Public School exterior with light shelves | 3 ThomasL. Wells Public School, composite image | 4 ThomasL. Wells Public School classroom | 5 ThomasL. Wells Public School gymnasium/multipurpose room | 6 ThomasL. Wells Public School kindergarten courtyard | 7 ThomasL. Wells Public School library | 8, 9 & 10 Brookside Public School
To create a « healthy, safe, caring » environment, the schools also receive assistance from the TDSB. For example, a group of designers help them plant gardens and make school grounds more sustainable. But EcoSchools is just one component of the school board’s sustainability strategy. The TDSB’s facilities services team is working on a renewable energy strategy for its 650 sites. Pilot projects, using solar panels and geothermal power, are underway to explore the possibility of relying on alternative forms of energy. Penny’s long-termvision is to establish a renewable energy grid that would stretch across Toronto’s public school system. Since existing technology wouldn’t support such a network, she plans to monitor the energy industry every six to nine months for any breakthroughs that could support a citywide, selfsustaining energy grid. Penny is also keen to have Toronto’s public schools built or retrofi tted according to a sustainable model. It’s estimated that 95 per cent of TDSB schools are at least 20 years old, while 37 per cent of them have been around for more than a half-century. Sustainable Schools 4 5 6 7 « If our schools are to be brought to current code compliance standards and the buildings areupgraded to support today’s technologically driven curricula, we would have to spend $6 billion over the next 10 to 15 years, » explains Penny. « It’s also important that our schools look appealing to students. If paint is pealing and the halls are dark, it doesn’t send a very positive message to our kids. » Before holes are dug and dirt is hauled away, she also wants change to occur behaviourally. « We’re showing schools that by taking action toward conservation and environmental sustainability, they can reduce their carbon footprint. As we rebuild existing schools and build new ones, the ultimate goal is to have them leave a zero footprint and become net producers of renewable energy. » New schools are already moving in that direction to become high-performance green institutions for learning. So far, one elementary school – ThomasL. Wells in Scarborough, designed by Baird Sampson Neuert Architects – has received a LEED Canada Silver designation in September 2006 and was the only Canadian recipient of an American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Architecture this year. ThomasL. Wells is also believed to be the first Canadian school to obtain LEED certifi cation. Meanwhile another Toronto school, Brookside – also in Scarborough, designed by Teeple Architects Inc. – is in the process of vying for a LEED Canada Gold rating. As is, the new $50-million North Toronto Collegiate Institute is being touted as the greenest school that the city has ever seen. It is scheduled to open in September 2010. All of this focus on environmental literacy at the TDSB is a concept Penny herself learned while attending the University of Manitoba’s School of Architecture, from which she obtained her master’s degree in 1981. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the same university. « In the architecture program, we were taught how to look at the sun, to consider the climate and the prevailing winds to locate a building appropriately. Those are things that are so logical, but which the design world seemedto have forgotten for a while. » 8 9 10 THE ROYAL ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTE OF CANADA/L’INSTITUT ROYAL D’ARCHITECTURE DU CANADA ■ 35 BAIRD SAMPSON NEUERT ARCHITECTS | PHOTOS : TOM ARBAN TEEPLE ARCHITECTS INC. | PHOTOS : SHAI GIL www.raic.org/2009



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