Lifestyle

‘Green’ building tour showcases sustainable living

This custom-designed bungalow in Nanaimo is among the three properties on the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Green Building Open House Tours Sunday (Sept. 23). The houses were all constructed to have a minimal impact on the environment. - Photo contributed
This custom-designed bungalow in Nanaimo is among the three properties on the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Green Building Open House Tours Sunday (Sept. 23). The houses were all constructed to have a minimal impact on the environment.
— image credit: Photo contributed

Sustainability, energy efficiency, creativity and beauty were natural home designer Cindy McCaugherty’s goals when she created her raincoast home on Gabriola Island.

Situated on a three-hectare lot with a .10-hectare fenced food garden, the raincoast home is one of three innovative residences featured in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Green Building Open House Tours Sunday (Sept. 23).

The event provides an opportunity for residents to tour properties constructed to have minimal impact on the environment, and to ask questions about the various ‘green’ elements used for each project.

“Our aim with the [tours] is to allow residents to learn first-hand how sustainability measures are being incorporated into new construction and renovation projects in our region,” said RDN chairman Joe Stanhope. “By showcasing these fine examples of green building, we are providing an opportunity for people to learn about new, more environmentally-friendly ways to approach construction and renovation projects.”

This is the third year the RDN has organized tours to demonstrate the many ways that green features can be incorporated into the construction process. The district is also offering a Green Building Speaker Series in September and October.

It also encourages residents to reduce water and energy use on their properties by offering a number of rebates through the green building incentive program and the drinking water and watershed protection program.

Once McCaugherty finalized the design for the raincoast home, she and her husband, Bill, did most of the hands-on work to complete its construction. To achieve their goals, they used a combination of traditional and alternative construction methods and included elements such as cob, light clay, straw, earthen floors and countertops, clay and lime plasters, locally milled timbers, and reclaimed materials.

The home also features composting toilets, triple-glazed fibreglass windows, super-insulated walls, green (planted) roofs, and a system for grey water reuse.

The home is partially heated by passive solar energy thanks to south facing windows and interior mass from the floors and cob walls, and a rooftop solar hot water unit supplements a tankless electric on-demand water heater. A sloped area south of the house will soon be home to a perennial forest garden.

In downtown Nanaimo’s south end, the second home on the tour provides the opportunity to view a home in mid-construction.The project features a roof and exterior walls constructed with structural insulated panels.

These energy-efficient, cost-effective panels contribute to maximum insulation values and seismic structural requirements, and are made from insulated foam core sandwiched between two structural boards.

The home was designed with the goal of achieving Built Green Platinum designation and minimal operating cost. It’s an open concept with two storeys, a walk-out basement, and a garden nourished by harvested rainwater.

The final home on the tour is a craftsman bungalow in Nanaimo, custom-designed by Pheasant Hill Homes. This home was designed to allow its owners to age in place comfortably with minimal utility fees. The property incorporates increased air tightness, a heat recovery ventilator and added insulation. The house achieved an EnerGuide Rating of 82 and is on track to earn its Built Green Platinum certification. Low maintenance features, accessibility and the desire for an uncomplicated lifestyle influenced the finishing of this energy-efficient home.

The Green Building Open House tours take place from 1-4 p.m. All of the tours are free, but space is limited and registration is required.

To register, please call 1-888-828-2069. Addresses of the homes will be provided upon registration.

For more about the tours, the Green Building Speaker Series, or other programs, please e-mail sustainability@rdn.bc.ca or call 250-390-6506.

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