What is the Eco-Build?
Brain Power aims to be a change-maker in the way commercial construction happens. In order to have our values echoed in the space we occupy, we worked with contractors who use nearly 100% sustainable materials, many of which are locally made, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly (down to such details as LED exit signs, walls composed of recycled tetra-paks, and insulation made from reclaimed jeans). Our clients learn about environmental responsibility both in and from Brain Power’s space!
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What is the purpose of the Eco-Build?
One of our aims in doing the Eco-Build is to be a role model to other small businesses in York Region (and anywhere, for that matter): commercial construction can (and should!) be done ethically and sustainably, with our environment’s and the occupants’ best health in mind. We have purposefully documented all of the materials and labour practices (scroll down to see!) to show anyone that a truly green and ethical build can be done – it just takes care and effort.
Our students and their families are excited about our vision and many have chosen to participate alongside us – indeed, several of our Brain Power students created a documentary film on this project, alumni volunteered in various aspects of the build, and groups of students came out to use construction debris and eco-friendly materials to create artwork for the space. We are certain people in the York Region community and Toronto at large will be inspired by our efforts.
Brain Power Floor Art
Before sealing the floors with our non-toxic and eco-friendly gloss sealant, Brain Power students got together and turned the entire floor into a large concrete canvas! The students thoughtfully placed art and famous quotes all over the floors to create an awesome interior-decor result!
Brain Power Enviro-Sculpt Art Project
Brain Power student artists (ages 12+) joined forces in the production of an installation art piece for our headquarters’ interior space. Recycled elements from the eco-friendly construction leftovers and non-toxic paints were our mediums to cover a large canvas with a stylized brain whose neural pathways light up! The efforts resulted in winning an honourable mention award in the enviroSCULPT Canada Green Building competition in fall of 2014.
Environmentally Friendly Materials Used in the Eco-Build:
- ReWall –Replacing standard drywall (made from recycled tetra paks). This material forms the wall surface structure.
- UltraTouch Cotton Insulation –This material replaces traditional fiberglass insulation (made from recycled jeans). It is being used as acoustical insulation to reduce the noise that travels from room to room.
- MexeSeal Floor Sealant –Final surface for concrete floors.
- LED exit signs –Uses very little electricity.
- No VOC Paint and Primer –Low VOC primer is used to coat the walls so that the coloured paint adheres well. No VOC coloured paint is used as the final finish on the walls.
- Solid Wood Baseboards and Trim –Used to provide protection along the base of the walls and around windows. This is a healthier alternative to MDF which is manufactured by combining sawdust, glues and formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen.
- Murco Drywall Compound –Used to produce a smooth finish where screws were used to fasten the ReWall to the metal framing and around corners and edges to provide a smooth wall.
- VeraSafe Acid Replacement –For cleaning the concrete floors to remove stains and oils before the floors are sealed.
There are other elements of sustainability in this project beyond just the materials. For example, the metal used for framing the walls is recyclable. The south facing windows provide free passive solar heating during cooler winter months. The exposed concrete floors serve as thermal storage – holding heat from the day to keep the space warmer during evenings and nights in the winter and absorbing heat during the day to keep the space cooler in the summer. The windows in the upper portion of each classroom allow natural daylight to penetrate into the interior spaces of the suite reducing the need to use electricity for artificial lighting.