Huron Early Learning Centre is owned and operated by City of Ottawa Child Care Services. The 5,500 sq.ft single-storey building serves 47 children comprised of 15 toddlers and 32 preschool children. The site is ideal for a child care centre, with parking and main entrance to the north and expansive playgrounds to the south. Each of the play activity spaces has large windows with low sills facing natural landscaped exterior views. The play activity spaces are 50% larger than MCSS minimum standards. Circulation and hallways were kept to a minimum by designing around a central space or hub. The hub serves as the dining area and provides additional flexibility for special activities. The kitchen is open to the hub and is a central part of the program. For instance the children participate in the planting, tending and harvesting of vegetables in the garden, they see the food being prepared and enjoy eating the food that they have helped to produce. Acoustic ceilings and wood slatted wall panels effectively absorb sound to reduce reflected noise. All floors are hydronically heated to improve the energy efficiency and to provide a warm floor for play activities.
Photo credit to Gordon King Photography.
Energy consumption has been reduced by 40% compared to the MNECB using a combination of several measures. Passive solar design reduces the winter heating and summer cooling requirements while rooftop solar collectors are used to heat domestic hot water and photo voltaic panels generate electricity to replace 10% of the electrical requirements of the building. Water is collected from the roof and stored in rain barrels to water the gardens and low-flow fixtures help reduce fresh water consumption.
The Huron Early Learning Center Environmental Curriculum is continuous throughout the childrens' day. An estimated 70% of each child’s day is spent engaged in some form of environmental awareness using both formal and informal methods of teaching, and utilizing each child’s senses, and cognitive abilities. The design of the building and its playgrounds serve as a model for program staff to teach principles of conservation and sustainability to the children.