Green Building and Renovating

Building with solar panels

If you are interested in talking with someone about your project or want to share your expertise with others, feel free to contact us. We would be happy to hear from you.

When we build a building, especially a home, we expect that it will live beyond us. Paying attention to the design details can have incredible long-term benefits or consequences depending on the decisions we make.

In terms of long-term impact, we primarily consider factors such as: How much energy will the home/building require? Can it generate this amount of energy either passively or actively? How durable are the materials, and do they promote the health of the occupants of the building? How much of the house can be recycled at the end of its lifecycle instead of going to the landfill? Paying attention to these important design details can have incredible long-term benefits or consequences.

But poor planning and design can have even more powerful short term consequences.

At a green builders' conference two years ago in Portland Oregon, one of the speakers shocked the audience with a sobering statistic. He said that if we built every home and building to the highest green standard outlined in our building codes, using the materials we are currently using, the building industry alone would contribute to a five degree warming of the planet by the end of the century. This was not what we expected to hear.

As it turns out, we have been trying to solve the climate crisis by seeking to create highly insulated, well-sealed buildings to reduce the energy requirements of our homes. This is great, but we have been using products that require a huge amount of energy to manufacture.

This collaborates the findings of Canadian researchers (Magwood, Racusin, and McArleton 2018), who found that super-insulated homes that use products like spray and rigid foam insulation as their main insulators will take over 75 years in energy savings to recover the carbon spent in the manufacture of those materials.

This is dangerous for our situation, because it uses up our carbon budget now. Climate scientists have told us we have approximately 10 years to neutralize our carbon footprint to avoid catastrophic environmental impacts. We can’t afford to keep building with materials that will make achieving these goals impossible.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great, well-proven solutions that have tremendous climate benefits and are cost effective as well. The Endeavour Cente is an excellent local resource to learn more about healthy, zero-carbon, urban renovation.

The Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford group has several members with a passion for green building with many, many years of research and experience. Some have built remarkable homes and buildings that are comfortable, beautiful, cost efficient and have virtually no carbon footprint.

If you are planning to build or renovate, we would be happy to volunteer our time as a neutral, experienced third party to talk about your project and a range of options you can consider to help save the planet.

A sustainable home