Home Alive! The House that Thinks, Drinks and Breathes – EnerNews


Home Alive! is the world’s first prefabricated straw bale house designed to have the least environmental impact.
The house is equipped with a combined wind and solar generation system that is estimated to supply 80% of the home’s electricity needs.

“Over the last 2 months using the house, we’ve actu­ally generated more electric­ity than we can use. We could sell that electricity back into the Ontario meter in 800,000 Ontario homes by 2007 . . . and in each and every Ontario home by 2010″ But just what is a smart meter? All smart meters measure the amount of electricity we use at different times of the power grid to supply green power to other Ontarians” says Home Alive! designer and builder Ben Polley

The house was originally built in a Guelph ware­house. Then it was moved to Toronto and reassembled  for a demonstration at the International Home Show in April,  2003. After the show, the house was moved again to its permanent site at the Everdale Environ­mental Learning Centre located twenty minutes outside of Guelph. You can visit Home Alive! on Saturdays throughout July and August .and learn about the eco-friendly materials used to build the house, and the innovative products and systems it to think, drink and breathe.

Home Alive! “thinks” using computer­ized monitoring and control systems for heating, ventilation, lighting and appliances. So it can deliver all the com­forts of a traditional home while using much less energy. For example, the clothes washer and the dishwasher will start automatically when there is plenty of site-generated electricity, or during off-peak hours when grid-supplied electricity is least expensive.

Other innovative systems allow Home Alive to “drink”. Rain water and melted snow are collected from the roof and then non-chemically treated for use as washing and drinking water. The water that goes down the drain from showers and sinks is recycled in an artificial wetland where plants, organisms and fish are able to process wastes so that the water can be re-used. Of course there are ultra low flow faucets and fixtures like those we see in many new homes today.

Unlike most newly constructed houses, Home Alive! is free of chemicals, toxins and other pollutants that can affect our health “The Ontario Medical Associa­tion says that the air quality inside Our homes is often worse that the air qual­ity outside” says Polley “and that’s despite the smog days that we’re seeing more often” The paints, glues, fabrics and furniture in Home Alive! are hypo-allergenic and, when combined with the botanical air filtration and ventilation system, the air inside the home is clean and refreshingly breathable.

In total there are over 150 products and systems inside the home that demon­strate how we can live comfortably while lowering our impact on the envi­ronment. Polley hopes that people will be inspired by Home Alive! and incor­porate even one or two of its concepts into their own homes. “The intent is not to astound people with futuristic tech­nologies, but to show people the real options that are available today!’ Polley will be moving into Home Alive! later in June.

Visit Home Alive! Go to or call 519-855-4859.