Posts Tagged ‘Green Building’

A Visit to Ottawa’s The Healthiest Home Building Store

August 5th, 2014

 

Mythic Paint at The Healthiest Home

Mythic Paint at The Healthiest Home

Nadurra Flooring at The Healthiest Home, Ottawa

Nadurra Flooring, through The Healthiest Home

If you’re a consumer living in Ottawa, and you’re looking for healthier building materials than the norm, The Healthiest Home is the place to start. When I was in Ottawa a month ago, Josh Gallant, the general manager of the store, gave me a tour and explained how  The Healthiest Home works. It turns out that their retail location is the tip of the green iceberg. In addition to the store that supplies a very wide selection of green building materials, it also has:

  • the retail store including architectural design services;
  • HH Commercial, a commercial group that supplies and installs interior finishings for condo developments and works on industrial, institutional and commercial projects;
  • HH Greenbuild that specializes in renovations and green builds of residential projects; and,
  • MD Ottawa, one of the oldest and largest millwork shops in Ottawa, that builds healthy cabinets and countertops.

Each business ensures that each project it undertakes includes waste minimization through the best use of design and materials. It uses materials that are lower impact on the earth and that also contribute to a healthier indoor air quality.

 

Enviroshake recycled rubber roofing tiles

Enviroshake Composite Roofing System: recycled rubber roofing tiles

Dura Design Cork flooring

Duro Design Cork flooring

The store also installs all of the products it sells from flooring to paint and guarantees its workmanship and materials. I have written about many of the finishes they carry in flooring (Nadurra bamboo and hardwood, Marmoleum linoleum), paint (Mythic Paint), counter tops (Paperstone and Icestone), and even structural (Durisol). There were, however, a few brands I wasn’t familiar with, the most interesting one was a “new-to-me” product called K-tect Sustainable Building Systems.

K-tect Sustainable Building Systems is an insulated light-weight structural building material similar to Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). The structural panel consists of expanded polystyrene (EPS) which provides insulation, sound dampening and structure, and light-weight steel framing providing strength. Like ICFs it combines structure and insulation into one package so there is no thermal bridging and fewer materials are needed. Unlike ICFs, it doesn’t use concrete and the product is 100% recyclable at end of life. It has an R value of 4 per inch which never degrades over time. It is easy to install and can be customized for your building. Further, and perhaps most surprisingly considering the use of EPS, there is no off-gassing from the product so it has been GreenGuard certified.

Josh told me that it has become a favourite product of their build/design group and that they have now used it on many of their projects. Their clients are particularly happy with their exceptionally low heating and cooling bills.

Because The Healthiest Home believes that to be a good business is also to be a part of the community it offers free yoga classes on Saturday mornings in its warehouse.

Healthiest Home hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm.

Address:

1523 Laperriere Ave. Ottawa, ON K1Z 7S9
(417 Exit – Carling Ave.)

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Thought Provoking Keynote Address at Greenbuild

October 12th, 2011

Greenbuild NEXT International Expo was jam-packed with places to go, people to see and things to do. There was absolutely not one dull moment to be had. To give you an idea of how big this conference has become, there were about 25,000 attendees, 1700 exhibitors, 105 education sessions available over 4 days.

The opening keynote address included an opening statement by Rick Fedrizzi, the President and CEO of the US Green Building Council, an opening keynote speech by Thomas Friedman and a roundtable discussion including Mr. Friedman, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, and Dr. Paul Farmer, moderated by Cokie Roberts. To top off the evening there was an excellent performance by Maroon 5, a band dedicated to lowering its carbon footprint, singing out on behalf of Haiti, and leading green lifestyles. I never knew that, I’ve always just enjoyed their music.

Tom Friedman was the highlight of the evening for me. He spoke about how it wasn’t a coincidence that the current economic and environmental crises are occurring at the same time. Regarding environmental sustainability, we are borrowing against our grandchildren’s future with the attitude being “IBG” — meaning “I’ll be gone” so it doesn’t matter. On the economic side of things, several practices and changes have meant that we no longer practice restraint with our accounting — both personally and corporately. There has been a generational shift to sloppy accounting practices resulting in events like the sub-prime lending fiasco; instant gratification is the norm, spend now, catch up later, especially since money is cheap. But we never end up catching up.

Mr. Friedman quoted some scary statistics that came out in a World Wildlife report. We are currently consuming 25% more natural resources than our earth can regenerate. We are creating a smaller and smaller base of natural resources from which an ever increasing world population must live on.

The way to fix this problem is with price signals — pricing natural resources so that the consequences of taking them out of the natural environment or adding CO2 into the atmosphere is reflected in the price of any product. Natural resources are not finite, despite the fact that they have always been valued that way. As Mr. Friedman notes, the way our current financial system works, we under price our natural resources while the financial gains are privatized by corporations and the losses are socialized (weather extremes leading to hurricanes, drought, etc.) becoming government and therefore, tax payer burdens.

He aptly notes that while a price signal is the key to changing human behaviour, we shouldn’t be looking for it any time soon. This current American (and Canadian for that matter) administration isn’t about to radically overhaul the pricing structure before they’re out of office. Let’s face it, a price signal right now would be political suicide — even if it is necessary.

He compared the IT industry with the “green revolution” by saying the difference is that with the IT revolution you got a product that had a function that was seen as beneficial such as cell phones, personal computers and all the software and technology that’s developed around these devices. At the end of the day with the green revolution, all you’re getting is the same things you already have: heat, cooling, lighting, transportation. Where is the incentive in converting to cleaner methods if the price signals aren’t there? To me it’s like when you take your car to the mechanic’s to get some work done and all you get back is a working car and a big fat bill; nothing visually has changed, and your bank account has decreased a little. It can feel deflating. (Don’t you think the least mechanics could do is vacuum the inside of your car just to make it look like you’ve gotten something for your money?)

So, after this frank lecture, which was pretty depressing because he was stating the reality of the economic and environmental mess we’re currently in, he did offer some hope. On his travels across the US, he meets lots of fascinating and ingenious people. People with ideas about how to solve the world’s problems while still earning a decent living. He’s glad that these grass roots people “didn’t get the message” that a price signal was necessary to overhaul our problems. Maybe our ingenuity will save us after all. So, to all of you inventors, keep on inventing and us find our way out of this mess we’ve created.

 

 

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