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Island Lake Public School students know better… it would have been a different fairy tale if that infamous first little pig had a baler!

Evolve was the lead proponent in a design-build partnership with J. David MacAuley Architects to develop a healthy, green, permanent two-classroom schoolhouse adjacent to an existing Orangeville, ON public school.  Complete with a pair of accessible washrooms and adjoining seminar room, this is believed to be the first publicly owned school constructed of straw in Canada. As green institutional structures go, this project really raised the bar.

Dubbed an “Eco-pod,” this unique structure provides core classroom space while also serving as a dynamic hands-on model for the teachers and a healthy, friendly learning environment for the students.  With the successful first project opened its doors in 2009, the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) began a process of constructing other similar Eco-Pods at additional schools in need of more classroom space.  The fact that the buildings themselves offer curriculum appropriate learning opportunities and can be built at a cost less than equivalent classroom space in a new school, is just a bonus.  Evolve is proud to have been part of the original concept team and to have been invited to participate in each project thus far.

Among the special features implemented are a passive solar design complemented by active solar hot air collectors.  The building is so efficient, that one can observe the effect of 30 little heaters walking in and sitting at their desks every morning – always with a corresponding increase in room temperature. Together with automatic windows and dampers for natural ventilation, these classrooms routinely operate with little or no supplemental heating even on cold winter days. An integrated control and monitoring system reports both energy use and production on a realtime basis and is accessible both to students and to the school board’s operations department. Everyone gets to participate and observe the Eco-Pod’s success!

Other special features include: straw bale walls; rainwater harvested and used for toilet flushing; polished concrete floors for ease of maintenance; MicroFIT enabled photovoltaics; wind turbine; durable magnesium board in place of drywall/cinder block; commercial grade natural silicate dispersion mineral paint; structural insulated panel (SIP) roof; ceramic-paint coated steel roofing suitable for water catchment; passive solar orientation complete with suitable overhangs to reduce seasonal overheating; efficient fibreglass framed windows with special thermal edge spacers.

And that’s not all…

At the request of the UGDSB, Evolve has recently designed and developed the world’s first straw bale portable classroom. This experimental project has resulted in a fully established product line of “Mobile Ecological Enclosures” that we have aptly branded “mobEEs”. Completely transportable, highly energy efficient and with clean, fresh indoor air, this prototype might just change the face of school portables forever! Click here for more details.

The very first unit is due for delivery in Spring 2011 and will welcome its first children from the Rockwood Public School (10 minutes east of Guelph, ON) the same Autumn. The second was delivered in December 2013. We are confident that more are soon to come!