Healthy School Opens in
Major progress in the field of Healthy School Design and Construction is being made this week as Halifax West High School opens its doors to students for the first time.
Halifax West High School marks a huge step in progress toward new school design. How often in the past have we heard of a new or renovated school opening to serious health complaints from fresh building materials? And how often have we heard about schools struggling with indoor air quality-related health problems due to old buildings that were built without much foresight? "This is a new school built on time and below budget, while breaking new ground in the field of healthy school design and construction," says Karen Robinson, President of CASLE, and chair of the Department of Education's Healthy School Construction Committee that guided the healthy school mandate for this project. "The benefits to student and staff health and learning will not stop at the doors of this school."
"The Department of Education's plan
to "raise the bar" from the health perspectives so as to benefit the occupants
of all future new schools and major renovations in this provinceis to be
commended". says Debbie Hum, Vice President of CASLE, also serving
on the Healthy School Construction Committee, and recent recipient of the
Queen's Jubilee Medal, "The short and long term benefits from building
and maintaining schools with high quality indoor environments have huge
cost saving value to individuals and to society as a whole by helping to
ensure that our schools produce healthy and well-trained graduates. Demonstrating
that healthy schools don't have to cost more to build is an important
"I believe that real progress, huge progress, has been made here toward overcoming health-related problems in new schools." adds Robinson, "Many in the national & international field of healthy buildings/schools gave freely of their time and information to ensure that this committee and project had access to the most current information available on product selection, design specialties and construction methods, and so far reaction is that we have a significant accomplishment here."
A few examples of progress made through the building of this school:
1. The ventilation system exceeds industry guidelines and the building readiness evaluation used residential rather than industry standards for indoor air quality.Strong benefits from the SST (School Steering Team) concept: Part of the
success of this school can be attributed to the Department of Education's clear recognition of the value added by involving community members and skilled organizations in a project School Steering Team. Serving on the Halifax West SST were community members, school staff and administration, representatives from the board and city and provincial departments, and others who, along with their deep personal commitment to create the best school possible for children, brought many ideas, skills and hours of strong contribution. They not only helped to ensure that the particular needs of the school community were well served within the budget, but they brought ideas and skill sets that might otherwise not have been available to the process. The Halifax West High School Feeder School Group, and its chair, Jane Davies, and the Halifax West School Advisory Council's chair Gary O'Hara, are outstanding examples of such community contributors. The project never lost sight of the real reason for working so hard - the students.
The Department of Transportation and
Public Works and Rideau Construction
is an eight year old information-based registered charity that works to
ensure that our province's schools are safe and healthy places for children
and staffs. Much has already been accomplished, but there is still
much work to do to have the products used in our schools, the practices
for operation and maintenance and the condition of the school buildings
be the best possible.