Home Alive! – Volunteers Construct an Environmentally Sustainable Future – Food for Thought Newsletter

By Amy Darrell

Each weekend, during the months of March and April, volunteers from all over Southern Ontario and beyond are bringing their hammers and their enthusiasm to a warehouse in Guelph to work on the most exciting sustainable construction project in Canada.

Home Alive! – The House that Thinks, Drinks and Breathes, designed by Ben Polley of Harvest Homes, is a 1.5 story home, which will demonstrate the latest in sustainable, healthy, and environmentally sensitive living ideas. The house will incorporate natural building materials such as straw and bamboo, state of the art computer systems to monitor wind and solar power, and the use of natural organ­isms for water, waste, and air purification. Outside, an integrated landscape, designed % Brad Peterson, will work with the house design to improve efficiency and sustainability.

The house will be fully constructed in sections so that it can be moved from Guelph to the 2003 National Home Show in Toronto where it will be a Feature Model from April 4 to 14. Dur­ing these ten days a projected 300,000 visitors will have an opportunity to visit Home Alive! and learn about its many unique features.

After the National Home Show, Home Alive! will be disassembled and rebuilt at the Everdale Environmental Learning Centre, one hour north-west of Toronto. Everdale is a 50-acre nonprofit educational facility and organic farm dedicated to providing hands-on, interactive and inspiring learning opportunities in sustainable living for people of all ages and backgrounds. By fall of 2003, Home Alive! will accept its first tenants and open its doors for monthly tours and virtual Internet tours providing opportunity for ongoing learning. Home Alive! will be an exciting addition to Everdale’s programs, further enhancing the experiences of visiting school groups, workshop participants and perhaps even those visiting Everdale on a Saturday to buy organic produce from the farm store or to hike the interpretive nature trail.

“Home Alive! will be an opportunity for visitors to experience the future of environmentally sustainable design right here at Everdale. Constructing Home Alive! and having it on site is a great tool for teaching the skills needed to build with the environment in mind. Most importantly, volunteering or visiting will inspire people to do something positive about the state of the environment either by contributing to Everdale or making changes at home,” said Katie Gad, a board member of the Everdale Environmental Learning Centre.

In the month of February alone over one hundred individual volunteers have participated in all aspects of the building of Home Alive!, from the frames to the strawbale walls, and many have come back several times. The inclusiveness of the project does not stop with the volunteers; so far over forty businesses and organizations have provided support in the form of building materials, products, time and money without which the project would not have been possible.