Sustainable Living Comes to the National Home Show – Harrowsmith Country Life

By Staff Writer

Sustainable housing is an idea whose time has come. If you read this magazine regularly, you already know that, but to most people, it’s still a novel concept. How interesting, then, that none other than the National Home Show—the largest consumer show of its kind in Canada-is breaking new ground with the unveiling of “Home Alive,” sponsored by Harrowsmith Country Life. This special exhibit is dedicated to green living: If you ever needed convincing that environmentally friendly housing could go mainstream, here’s your proof.

The star of the show is none other than a straw bale house, a dream home designed not only to inspire consumers with scores of innovative products and design ideas, but to demonstrate that green living doesn’t necessarily mean “making do” or “doing without.” Built by Ben Polley of Harvest Homes, the dream home employs straw bale construction, which is renowned in environmental circles for using what would otherwise be a waste material-bales of farm straw as a building block. It’ll other great strength is its legendary insulating capacity: A typical bale wall rates R40, while a conventional wall might rank only R20.

But lest consumers think a straw house is akin to life in a barn, the dream home offers plenty of creature
comforts. But where a conventional house might dazzle with luxurious furniture or designer gadgets, “Home Alive” captures the imagination with ergonomic ideas, energy-efficient appliances and environmentally friendly concepts.

The house “thinks” by coordinating thermostats and timers Into a central automation system, thus saving big on energy. It “drinks” through clever management of waste water and rain. And with its air purification systems and use of natural materials, it “breathes,” an idea of special interest to allergy sufferers.

The innovations don’t stop at the back door. The “Home Alive” display also showcases a host of gardening ideas that demonstrate a responsible approach to home landscaping. As designed by landscape architect Brad Peterson, the dream garden combines some familiar ideas, such as an organic vegetable garden, with new concepts, including a “green roof” and alternatives to conventional grass.

The goal of “Home Alive” is to fire the consumer’s imagination and to foster a new awareness that environmental responsibility with is within reach of the average homeowner. Perhaps show-goers will leave with a few ideas to apply to their own homes. Certainly for Harrowsmith readers, there will be plenty of food for thought. Come see for yourself at the National Home Show in Toronto.