With recent news indicating that the province will dedicate $3.5 billion over the next five years towards school construction (building and modernization), the concept is on the tips of everyone’s tongue in Alberta. Of all construction projects, school builds are among the most sensitive and require the upmost care from planning to implementation and completion. As a municipal builder serving the Central Alberta area Apple Building Systems is providing interested parties with insight into the unique nature of elementary and secondary educational institution construction.
1. Sustainable Model for the Future
LEED certification is becoming a paramount opportunity for commercial and industrial enterprises, but for municipal interests in the province it has become a necessity. Successful school construction projects are using sustainable/eco-friendly building materials and practices not only for the health of future enrollees, but to serve as an example for students and to lead the way for other educational institutions across the country to follow suit. Learn more about earning LEED credits towards construction projects in Alberta here.
2. Balanced Lighting
Striking the perfect balance between natural and artificial lighting is essential to the architectural plan of a school build. Budding yet restless minds will occupy the space in the future, and thus much consideration must be made to maximize natural lighting, something which has proven to be conducive to positive cognitive functioning. Builders must analyze the positioning of classrooms and their respective windows and consider the natural light exposure throughout the changing seasons. Optimally, classroom windows will recognize solstice patterns and allow access to this natural light between school hours. Artificial lighting must strike a balance with ambient lighting and allow various illumination levels to consider normal classroom activities through the year.
3. Optimized Acoustics
Architectural design and construction must also carefully consider acoustics. On a day to day basis administrators, teachers, and students alike will need to be heard in a variety of settings from classroom to auditorium. Stringent acoustics goals must serve to exceed minimum prerequisites and include reductions in background noise levels (outdoor traffic, vents, etc.), reverberation (through floors, walls, and ceilings) and the signal-to-noise ratio between the speaker and the student. Not only is structural and exterior wall design essential to acoustics, landscape design can also have a major impact in abating exterior noise. Make sure that you secure the services of a municipal construction company that understands the nature of acoustic design.
4. Long Term Health and Safety Considerations
While building with LEED certification in mind will keep most future site health concerns at bay, builders will want to pay close attention to any potential impediment to longterm indoor air quality. This includes a complex understanding of air ventilation systems and mold/mildew prevention. In addition to air quality, the following should be considered among health and safety construction initiatives:
Natural Surveillance – Involves building design that allows students and teachers the ability to see each other and to be seen by others without the use of technology. This includes limiting blind spots within the school and on school grounds
Natural Access – Involves building design that allows staff to control a campus environment by creating boundaries between public and private space and directing students and visitors to appropriate areas. Landscaping, fencing, walls and other building features can be used to define and partition a campus from front offices to classrooms and gymnasiums to auditoriums.
On Site Traffic Flow and Parking – Involves building design that is mindful of drop-off and pick-up zones in relation to school entry/exit points, play areas, and other places of gathering. Parking lots should be clearly defined and separate from student pedestrian traffic and include permanent signage, bollards, roll stops, raised crossings, and other physical features.
5. Strict Adherence to Alberta’s Standard & Guidelines for School Facilities
Of course, every province has their own strict set of standards and guidelines for school construction, and thus no tips to a successful school build in Alberta could be complete without referencing the exact document. You can view the PDF here.
If your municipality is preparing for a school build, modernization update, or modular addition we encourage you to contact Apple Building Systems Inc at 403.340.6777.