Building with wood has generated a distinct British Columbian architectural heritage. Its natural grain and colour is warming and it reminds us of our connection to nature. Incorporating wood in our new schools was a natural fit for these magnificent facilities.
School District 19 (Revelstoke) started planning two new schools before January 2011 when the city signed its Wood First policy to promote the use of wood in government-funded buildings. But that didn't stop Anne Cooper, the district's superintendent of schools at the time, from calling for designs that used as much wood as possible for Revelstoke Secondary and Begbie View Elementary schools used – structurally and architecturally. “We wanted to demonstrate to students, staff, visitors and our community the aesthetically pleasing attributes of wood, while gaining the environmental and economic benefits for Revelstoke and our region,” Cooper says. Both construction projects also supported local labour and materials; saluting the region's historical ties with the forest sector.
Local Jobs, Local Benefits
Many of the 20 subcontractors working on the two projects were local, including Lortop Architectural Millwork whose craftsmanship is featured in the lockers, display cabinets, trims, stairs and wall paneling, classroom and lab countertops, book cases, casework and much more.
Both schools use renewable energy from Revelstoke Community Energy Corp. for heat and hot water. The energy comes from a 1.5-megawatt biomass boiler at the nearby Downie Timber Ltd. mill, which burns 10% of the mill's wood residue, offsetting more than 3,700 tonnes of greenhouse gases and reducing air pollutants and particulate matter.
Relaxed Learning Environment
The interior ceilings of the classrooms have glulam T-bar roof beams supported by structural steel. They hold up an exposed wood deck made with Douglas-fir, and much of the wood is exposed as part of the design. Wood trim and panelling throughout both schools provides a tangible connection to nature, something that cannot be matched by other building materials. Wood creates productive and high-quality learning spaces for students and teachers, and research has concluded that wood interiors reduce stress.
Best Choice For Community Space
Wood is hypo-allergenic and, unlike carpeting, prevents the build-up of dust. It is easier to clean, making it a great choice for a buildings like Revelstoke Secondary and Begbie View Elementary, which house neighbourhood learning centres and are open to community activities after school hours.