École Curé-Paquin is the first project in Quebec – and the first grade school in Canada – to receive CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building – Design certification. This means that the school is designed to achieve zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with building operations. École Curé-Paquin, located in Saint-Eustache, Quebec, will welcome more than 350 students in September 2019. It is part of 16 projects across Canada that are participating in a two-year pilot of CaGBC's Zero Carbon Building Standard.
A flagship low carbon project
For school board Commission scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Mille-Îles, the pursuit of the Zero Carbon Building Standard aligns with its belief in constructing sustainable buildings and contributing to the reduction of GHGs.
The school board sees the pilot project as a flagship initiative that will, hopefully, lead to other schools across the province also decreasing their GHG emissions.
Several decisions were made to improve the student experience while improving energy efficiency and environmental impacts at the school, including:
- One hundred per cent geothermal for heating and cooling, with partial hydronic radiant floors and heat recovery.
- An enhanced building envelope with reduced thermal bridging.
- Optimal natural daylight and ventilation.
- Sensor-controlled LED lighting.
- Solar photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 27 kilowatts on the gym roof, which helps reduce total energy use and daytime energy demand.
Research compiled by U.S.-based Center for Green Schools has found that poor ventilation results in students missing more school days due to respiratory infections, increased incidence of sick building syndrome, and increased school nurse visits for respiratory problems. A 2013 study analyzed data from 21,000 students and found a direct link between classrooms that have more daylight and improved test scores.
The school board noted that analyzing the building’s carbon footprint was one of the most challenging aspects of the zero carbon project. As they designed a high performance building, the embodied carbon in the building materials became more important. The analysis showed that the aluminum window frames, steel structure and concrete components had the greatest impacts due to the carbon intensity of the manufacturing process and the volume of materials used.
Designed for comfort and energy efficiency
The school board’s goal was to create a comfortable learning environment and to provide an exemplary building for students that could also be used as a learning tool. One of the tools will be a television that broadcasts the school’s daily energy consumption and production, including the energy produced via photovoltaic solar panels. In science class, students will learn how GHGs can be reduced using technologies found in the school.
The schoolyard design includes as many trees as possible, additional green space, and enhanced views from the classrooms, which has proven to be beneficial to student learning. An important feature of the interior design is the addition of wood furniture that will be integrated throughout the building. The project also supports low carbon transportation such as safe pedestrian access, bicycle racks, public transit access and parking spaces for electric vehicles.