The Tomato

Construction underway to improve classroom environments

Photo by Tina Wallace

In response to persistent demands, contractors have begun construction on classrooms in Lamoureux and Fauteux in an attempt to make the buildings more environmentally friendly and to improve air quality.

Students and professors have been complaining for years about stuffy classroom environments. In 2012, the number one complaint on U of O student evaluations was that most classrooms at the university put students to sleep when they should be inspiring them.

Green living walls similar to the large one in the new Faculty of Social Sciences building will be installed in every classroom to encourage oxygen flow and give students something better to stare at than blank walls.

Jeremy Chubman, head of the contracting team and a U of O alumnus, is pleased that the school has finally decided to make these changes.

“For about half the cost of the new football field, this university has become a leader in green technology and student health,” said Chubman. “It’s so great to see the administration actually doing something about making learning a more positive and environmentally responsible experience. No one is just idly sitting by bragging about a green wall in one building alone, or comforting themselves that the campus was ranked as the most sustainable in Canada.”

In addition, quiet soundtracks will be added to certain rooms to provide either a jungle or beach ambiance, with featured sounds like waves crashing into the sand and various animal mating calls.

Studies have shown there is a direct correlation between music and student concentration. Most students will show dramatic improvement in all disciplines when exposed to the comforting sounds of nature for more than an hour each day.

The new classrooms will be ready by the winter semester and will serve as a test run until 2015. If the project is successful, other faculties are eager to have the same green walls and sounds installed in their own classrooms.

Although most teachers and administrative staff support the renovations, there are those who have doubts. Kinesiology professor Risha Mehta believes that nature sounds will either frighten off students or put them to sleep.

“Classrooms are classrooms. If students want to hear nature sounds, they should go to the park,” said Mehta.

A buzz has been created around campus, as the U of O will be the first school in the country to put its dollars where its sustainable mouth is.