Clearspring Middle School (CMS) in Steinbach has received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification.

Principal Ed Neufeld explains LEED is a Canadian rating system for highly efficient buildings and to receive Gold Certification you have to have 39 to 51 points.  Clearspring received 39 points and Neufeld feels that's a huge accomplishment.

Clearspring Middle School on the second floor over looking the Outdoor Learning Environment (Photo courtesy of Hanover School Division)"Each point has a lot of work and commitment connected to it.  You have to commit, in some cases, to make sure that rain water doesn't leave too fast, you don't have too much phosphorus leaving your grounds from fertilizer or you have to make sure your building envelope meets a certain standard.  There's a variety of things that have to be done.  Even how you clean up the waste material from the building has to be done in an environmentally sustainable way.  So there's a lot of different ways of getting your points.  Builders and owners have to decide which points they're going to go for and then they have to put a heavy commitment into it."

Points are earned in six different categories including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality as well as innovation and design.

Neufeld notes an example is the Green Guy Learning Stations which were implemented into the school as learning tools for the students.

Through the process of building Clearspring Middle School Neufeld says he learned from the architects about research which indicates when you design a school for health you actually have benefits in terms of a healthier population and a higher level of learning. He notes it's hard data to compile but would be very interested to perform a study one day to see if those benefits are true to CMS.

Clearspring Middle School when you first walk through the doors. (Photo courtesy of Hanover School Division)As a school there are priorities and Neufeld explains their priorities are literacy, numeracy and sustainability or environmental stewardship.

"Each priority you have to put a lot of time into and one of the things that we've tried to do is raise the level of recycling, thinking about the environment, composting and all of those sorts of things.  The next level for the school - and we're going to begin that process a little bit in about a month with some training for the staff - is to connect our teaching in the classroom in a more significant way to the school and the learning stations.  That's just going to take time.  So I guess, what's next for the school is more training, more time and continue to learn more and more about what does it mean to be a school that is a model for environmental design."

Neufeld adds a community could benefit from having a building which is an example of environmental sustainability.  He notes having community members who attended an environmentally sustainable school such as CMS and were taught to understand their environment and how to be environmentally responsible is an example of a benefit our community could see.

Neufeld thanks the community for their support.  He feels this is something really special and that this is a model for how things can be done in the future.

Clearspring Middle School's Outdoor Learning Environment (Photo courtesy of Hanover School Division)