Ideas combine in ‘green’ house – Guelph Mercury

By Hilary Stead

Two Guelph entrepreneurs are com­bining centuries-old ideas with space-age technology to create a home that takes the concept of healthy, energy-efficient living to a new level.

Billed as Home Alive, the House that Thinks, Drinks and Breathes, its appliances will time activities for when the energy generated on site is most plentiful, or when grid-supplied electricity is least expensive. Heat from the waste water will be collected by pipes wrapped around the drain.

Waste water will be cleaned and re­cycled in an artificial wetland, where it will nourish a garden. Solar roof pan­els that will provide much of the home’s electricity

A botanical air filtration system will supply the house with naturally filtered air. Floors will be made of bam­boo, which is as durable as most woods but grows much more quickly avoiding the harvesting of maple and oak.

“You’re living with a lighter ecologi­cal footprint,” said Brad Peterson, a landscape architect who designed the area that surrounds the high-tech home being built by Ben Polley’s Har­vest Homes.

After six years of planning, the 1,500-square-foot, two-story model home and landscape will be featured at April’s National Home Show.

Peterson said interest in the project shows a mainstream audience is look­ing for ways to change their lifestyles.

“People think green, they just don’t necessarily act green for lack of op­tions,” he said.

“It was recent social anxiety over air quality in Ontario, water quality in Walkerton, water shortages world­wide, spiraling energy costs and con­cern over climate change that led to the full expression of this landscape type.”

The approach is a modern adapta­tion of naturally occurring processes and centuries-old practices.

The home has a solarium, rain bar­rels and a hedgerow to protect it from winter winds. A driveway with perme­able, non-toxic surfacing will minimize runoff.

“Everybody who walks through finds at least one thing that captures their imagination and that they could implement in their own home,” said Polley.

For Home Alive he is taking the con­cept of straw-bale home construction a step further by moving to prefabricated wall panels that are more portable, and could be mass produced.

Polley has invited local businesses to sponsor the project or donate energy-efficient products.

Peterson said many elements of the landscape serve multiple functions.

A large shade tree will cool the home in the summer and provide fruit, while letting the sun through to be col­lected by solar panels in winter.

A pond will irrigate the garden and provide habitat for wetland plants that purify the air and cool the atmosphere.
A masonry oven burns more effi­ciently than a wood stove or fireplace.

The Home Show runs April 4 tol3 at the National Trade Centre at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.