Top designers for eco-kindy

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 26/07/2013

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A Palmerston North woman's vision of an eco-friendly early childhood centre has the architects of a global award-winning eco-bach drawing up something similar for the city.

Erin Skelsey said her vision was to offer families a unique learning journey based on the Reggio Emilia philosophy of environment as the "third teacher".

The idea came to her in March and she has since spoken to numerous early childcare centres.

She feels her idea offers something different for Manawatu families.

Along with the standard curriculum and activities, children would also be taught about sustainable energy, solar energy, wind energy, recycling and have a worm farm.

She is a mother of three and a teacher aide working in early childhood education.

Mrs Skelsey entered her business plan into Innovate Manawatu and was then invited to attend Innovate U, a five-week course aimed at helping to develop business models on people's ideas.

She said the experience had really helped her to progress the idea, and prompted her to do a survey to gain feedback from the community, which so far had been supportive.

The centre site has not yet been decided.

She hoped there would be 50 children, but with a higher teacher-child ratio than usual.

The centre would be funded by investors, sponsors and government grants and subsidies, she said.

The building itself was important, and would be designed and built using energy-efficient construction and sustainable, locally sourced materials, she said.

The architects behind Victoria University's First Light House were already engaged in the planning process.

The First Light house won third place at the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, which challenges teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

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- Manawatu Standard

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