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New Green Childcare Center Opens

May 10, 2012

UniverCity’s new $3.2-million childcare centre—one of Canada’s greenest buildings and the world’s most sustainable childcare facility—has opened its doors to children and a window to SFU researchers.

SFU’s Community Trust developed the facility in partnership with the SFU Childcare Society and the Faculty of Education.

It’s the first building in Canada to meet the Living Building Challenge, one of the most advanced green-building rating systems in the world, and features carbon-neutral, self-sustaining energy generation.

“The new Childcare Centre represents a logical next step in our effort to build a model sustainable community on Burnaby Mountain,” says trust president and CEO, Gordon Harris.

The setting will allow faculty and student researchers, led by SFU education associate professor Margaret MacDonald, to study such topics as children’s understanding of sustainability. A $200,000 grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is funding the research.

Teachers and researchers will also explore evolving curriculum and project-based learning related to the centre’s Reggio Emilia-inspired philosophy, which is considered to have one of the world’s best preschool curricula. The approach emphasizes three “teachers”—the educator, the environment and the broader community.

Other studies may help determine how to best share early learning with parents, and how family members can best be involved in their children’s learning.

The bright, airy centre features two-storey, floor-to-ceiling windows, non-toxic natural finishes and furniture and a special piazza where children can create projects and work on them over time. SFU educators will use the area to observe the children as part of their research into innovative early learning practices.

The new centre brings to 320 the total number of children attending full- and part-time childcare on the Burnaby campus and at UniverCity. Twenty-five children are enrolled at the new facility, with 25 more expected by September 2012.