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Qayqayt elementary school takes a green building Gold!

One of Principal Karen Catherwood’s favorite views is the foyer of École Qayqayt Elementary School. That’s because it’s filled with natural light.

And natural light is one of the features of a cutting-edge school building that’s been recognized with a LEED Gold certification — the ‘international mark of excellence’ for environmental design.

École Qayqayt Elementary School is the first building in the New Westminster Schools district to be recognized with the certification, awarded by the Canada Green Building Council for leadership in energy and environmental design. The school opened its doors for the first time in September 2014, is named after the Qayqayt First Nation, and is home to over 480 Kindergarten to Grade 5 students.

A plaque that celebrates the achievement is now in the foyer of the school.

New Westminster Schools Facilities and Operations Director Dino Stiglich said it’s among the highest standards that can be achieved in creating high performing, healthy green buildings.

“We’re pleased with it,” he said. “There’s a lot of extra work involved to meet the Gold standards.”

The certification, awarded in July, means École Qayqayt school features everything from energy efficient lighting and heating, to floors that don’t need chemical cleaners.

It means water faucets and irrigation systems come with water reducers, and the roof  incorporates reflective coating for better energy efficiencies.

It means parking lots feature electric plug-ins — and hallways and rooms feature a lot of natural light – which is great for kids while also helping reduce the use of electric lighting and improving the sustainability of the HVAC (heating, ventilating and air condition) system.

It’s also just beautiful, said Catherwood.

“My favorite sight-line is in the foyer. There is just so much natural light, and the wood in the building is beautiful.”

Catherwood, who has taught in the district for some 27 years, has fond memories of working in some of the more historic buildings in the district, particularly the now replaced John Robson school, built in 1928. Environmental features at the time included critters who were known to come crawling out of the woodwork –  and “squirrel wrangling” became an acquired skill, she laughed.

She appreciates some of the more up-to-date features of her more recent school home. “This really is a beautiful building,” she said.

Stiglich noted that the district’s latest new school addition   – Fraser River Middle School which opened last year on September 2016 – will be up next for the LEED Gold certification.  And the plan is that the new high school to replace New Westminster Secondary School will also be built to LEED Gold certification standards.