Downsview Park is a pretty cool place. It’s got a lot to do and some nifty things to see. Downsview is also a place that is actively being developed as an environmently friendly place to live and play. The home development that’s going in will be interesting to watch, but already there are reasons to come and poke around here. There’s the farmer’s and merchant’s market (open Saturdays and Sundays), GrandPrix Kartways which uses electric go-karts (so no direct emissions), the Canadian Air and Space Museum (I’ll bet you didn’t even know Toronto had an air and space museum) and The Hangar and Sports Complex. Our family’s been to the Hangar on several occasions — mostly for birthday parties (beach volleyball and soccer parties), but also for winter soccer practices. It’s a really neat space with lots of natural light and several massive (hangar-sized) playing fields. And if you’re wondering, yes, it really is a former hangar, once used by de Havilland Aircraft Company, and later by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Now, however, there’s another reason this area of Toronto is worth a visit. There’s a new “green home” exhibit that will be on display in the Hangar until the end of December, 2011. A Healthy Home is a great project and a definite ‘must-see’ for anyone interested in incorporating green building products and philosohpy into their renovation or new build. The designer, Barbara Nyke of Nikka Design, and builder, Chris Phillips of Greening Homes Contracting, have extensive experience using green building materials and have effectively demonstrated how “less can be more” through this project while creating a practical and beautiful living space.
If you’re a design junkie, or have done the rounds of design shows in Toronto in the last few years, you might well recognize this home. In its first few renditions it’s been known as “The Sustainable Condo” initially designed in 2004 by Busby, Perkins and Will Architects. The point of this project was to show that small spaces had lots of potential to be multi-functional while incorporating “green” materials and efficiencies, and yet still look normal.
This current rendition goes a step farther as it has now been fitted with walls and a ceiling so that insulation, drywall, and framing could be added,as well as a new HVAC system, some upgraded water efficiency options and more lighting options.
Why this house is considered “green”: It looks like any other compact condo maximizing space without compromising design. But there are many differences that aren’t visibly noticeable and most have to do with the materials used. Faucets, toilets, washer and dishwasher use less water, and furnishings and building materials don’t off-gas harmful chemicals. Finally lighting is LED and compact fluorescent, using less electricity.
This is a terrific example of how green doesn’t have to be weird or unaffordable. It’s a nice “normal” house with some wonderful and creative features. My favourite feature is the “welcome mat” which is made of 100% recycled tile and marble chips — which otherwise were bound for landfill.
I’ll dedicate several posts to highlight each of the features of this house and most importantly where you can buy the material — because it’s great to see green, but “doing” green is just as important.