Ganaraska Forest Centre
The site of the Ganaraska Forest Centre -- surrounded by a patchwork of pine plantation and regenerating hardwood forest -- speaks of history, multiple uses and conservation. But the new Ganaraska Forest Centre is so much more. It includes special areas for the Learning Gallery, Great Hall, Learning Studies, Dormitories and Administration. The main building is a modern facility complete with common areas, sleeping areas and special areas for staff and administration. Education and conference facilities are courtesy of the common room, meeting rooms and classrooms, and sleep up to 80 people. The Centre is equipped with a commercial-class kitchen and include the Oak Ridges Moraine Information Centre, which serves as a focal point of the Oak Ridges Moraine for Eastern Ontario.
The needs of both teacher and students have changed since the Centre was originally designed. It is no longer appropriate for teachers and students to be sharing the same quarters. Privacy, security and respect for personal space must be a priority. The new Centre provides all of these modern amenities to enhance both the educational and community experience.
The Oak Ridges Moraine Information Centre is an integral part of the new facility. Not only is valuable information provided to residents of the eastern area of the moraine, but the information centre serves as a connection point for both the residents and local municipalities to the Oak Ridges Moraine itself. What’s more, it serves as a local information hub where people go to obtain brochures and speak directly with expert staff. This is important. It has long been felt that an information gap about the moraine exists. Western areas of the moraine do not understand the uniqueness of the east; the new Centre bridges that gap.
The new Ganaraska Forest Centre is a multi-use facility, a new model in environmental design, and one that even sustains itself. It is a unique ‘build’ project featuring renewable-energy opportunities and resources, as befits a facility that adheres to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system of design. Along with the LEED program are other publicly funded initiatives currently in place and ready to assist: Municipal Green Funds, the Commercial Building Incentive Program, and the Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative.
The layout of the Centre allows for ‘green’ energy sources for different areas; these energy sources include solar thermal, biomass, propane and combination boilers. In addition, the new Centre will make use of ‘green’ concepts in building, including environmentally-friendly wood species, green roof areas, recycled plastic roof tiles, recycled rubber membrane roofing and fabric made of recycled rubber, wood and ceramics.
And so the new Ganaraska Forest Centre embodies the spirit of both water conservation and energy conservation. For example, green roofs capture runoff water, native plants thrive independently from irrigation systems, and the facility incorporates such technologies as recycled water systems and heat-recovery shower drains. With regard to energy, the Centre has the potential to become a self-sustaining net energy producer that generates revenue from the sale of electrical energy. Using one phase not three, the total site, including all buildings loading will be reduced to 135 KVA. In short, the Ganaraska Forest Centre is the kind of place that walks the talk. It is a showcase of world-class environmental and ecological design.