June 15, 2012
Mark Schwarz of Earthscape Ontario in Elmira wrote a blog about his company’s work at the Elmira District Secondary School, which was completed in two phases in 2010 to the spring of 2012.  

In Schwartz’s own words, “The design process involved an ambitious plan to renovate virtually all of the area in the 800 square metre space. Using our budgeting process, we discovered that our beautiful plan would cost more than $70,000 to construct (more than any educational facility has on hand to spend on learning projects).”

He describes how a teacher at the school, Barb Gaudet, tapped into donations of labour and materials. Within a few months, she collected enough waste or recycled materials such as interlocking stone, tree stumps, natural stone, and gravel for one-third of the entire project. Her hard work cut the cost of the project materials from $23,000 to less than $3,000 (that’s almost 90 per cent of the costs).

Schwarz reflected on how the construction process was the highlight of his company’s year. “The Workplace Science class far exceeded my expectations for work ethic and responsibility. All the students put in a lot more time than the one class per day requirement.”

Schwarz’s blog can be found at http://earthscapeblog.ca/?p=1522.