Little Falls Public School | 2007 | St. Marys, Ontario

Photo : Terry Manzo


The Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) closed two schools in St. Marys, due to provincial “Prohibitive to Repair” Initiative. Little Falls PS amalgamated the closed school populations at the new Little Falls elementary school. The first new school designed since the board’s amalgamation in 1999, this project established some of the first “green initiatives” for future AMDSB projects.

The architectural design makes historical and community reference, emulating stratified limestone with material choice and block coursing on the Gymnasium wall and the use of imagery on the flanking exterior library wall where Arthur Meighen and the former St. Marys Central school are depicted in pre-cast concrete. This use of concrete makes further reference to the physical and economic importance of cement to the community.

The clear orientation and placement of the open circulation hall adjacent to the library, gymnasium, administration and meeting areas, creates a bright multi-purpose space. Community use is focused with deliberate control of circulation within the school. The open concept space creates a comfortable way finding for both the community and students using the school.

The many sustainable concepts incorporated into the school began with the Municipality, which made available property adjacent the town’s community centre, averting the need for any new parking. Architectural design ideas for natural lighting of classrooms, developed in many retrofit projects, culminated in a classroom window system, which vastly reduces the electrical load. This is achieved by creating a window system with a full width light dispersing top band of insulated translucent glass above a large picture window and side vent with a sunshade. Controllable ballast light systems adapt to the amount of natural light and adjust levels reducing energy use. The Gymnasium is also fully illuminated by natural light, which can be controlled by louvered skylights.

Vast reduction of water use, nearing 90% has been found with the collection and use of rainwater. Other energy saving initiatives include a reflective granular roof membrane which reduces heat gain and cooling load, polished concrete floors which eliminate the use of adhesives, reduced materials and eliminating the need for chemical cleaning agents. Formaldehyde-free materials and low-VOC adhesives and paint products enhance air quality. Energy efficient windows, insulation, radiant in-floor heating and a high efficiency HVAC system reduce overall energy consumption. The School integrates education of sustainable processes within the curriculum through Recycling Program, reuse of recycled materials and an interactive monitoring system that allows students to follow energy use of the school.

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