"Green is the colour of construction in the 21st century."
We’re not talking about the hue of the paint on the walls, but rather the sustainable and eco-friendly elements increasingly being built into homes.
It’s definitely the direction Peder Madsen wants to take with his family’s business, London-based CCR Building and Remodeling.
It’s also the direction a young Aylmer area couple, Stephen and Katie Hotchkiss, want to take with their home and livelihood.
Last year, they packed up their herbal business in Los Angeles and moved across the continent to take over a 380-acre property that’s been in Stephen’s family for generations. Here, they plan to practice eco-friendly agriculture using organic and chemical-free methods and sell their products, as well as locally crafted artisan creations, at The New New Age Farm Store, opening this spring in Port Stanley.
“Living close to nature is important to us,” Katie says.
Their first big project was to renovate the farmhouse into a totally green home.
When they contacted CCR to help with this, it was an ideal match.
And their efforts were so successful that the home qualified for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s “Healthy Home” designation.
This Ontario-based program recognizes builders and renovators who demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to construct or renovate a healthier home, says Jamie Shipley, knowledge transfer and outreach consultant with CMHC.
"Eco-friendly elements create healthier homes"
He explains that projects must go beyond code in five areas: energy, healthy indoor environment, resource efficiency, environmental responsibility and affordability.
The Hotchkiss project qualified on all fronts, Shipley says. “These clients live a very sustainable lifestyle and that was a perfect fit with a contractor like CCR, who can help them meet their goals.”
In addition to constructing a home that’s green and healthy, Madsen says the Hotchkisses have created a “warm and inviting space.”
Katie, an interior designer, conceived the revised floor plan that included opening up four rooms across the rear of the house to create an open-concept kitchen and great room, with a large central kitchen island and original wood-burning fireplace as a focal point of the great room. A wall of windows overlooking fields and forest affords plentiful natural lighting.
At the front, a cozy living room is an ideal place to kick back and relax.
From the front entry, a hallway leads to a guest bedroom and bathroom, office and master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and walk-in closet.
One of the most impressive green features of the home, as expressed by both Madsen and Shipley, is the pristine indoor air quality and complete lack of off-gassing or volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).
“They hit a home run on that,” Shipley says. “There was a big focus on indoor air quality, which I would say is an area many builders and renovators leave off the table. They don’t think about the toxicity of materials they’re putting into the environment.”
“warm and inviting space.”
As homes become increasingly energy efficient and tightly sealed, chemicals from paint, stains and sealants are trapped in the home, Madsen says. “I’m trying to push this idea. We don’t stop to think how many chemicals we’re breathing in.”
The Hotchkiss home uses soybased stains and sealants for the flooring, a feature Madsen appreciated. “No one really does that,” he says. “And that is where a lot of chemicals come into play.”
Their paint is Benjamin Moore’s Natura, which goes beyond zero VOC, also offering zero emissions.
They chose eco-friendly concrete, provided by Aylmer’s Enns Concre- ations, for their countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms.
“It’s a durable and greener material, which, unlike tile, does not require adhesives that can produce VOCs,” Stephen explains.
Concrete was also used for the bathroom floors and showers and the floor in the mudroom and laundry area.
Even the furnishings are natural and sustainable.
“Ninety per cent of our furniture is refurbished antiques, including many family heirlooms, or built with eco-friendly practices,” Katie says. The living room couch, for example, is from Cisco Brothers in Los Angeles, who construct their products using natural components, including jute webbing, natural latex foam, organic cotton and wool, and FSC-certified hardwoods. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international not for-profit organization promoting responsiblemanagement of the world’s forests.
The couple sourced local companies and materials for their renovation.
Much of the wood for doors and cabinetry came from EverWoods, a mill near Sparta that specializes in sustainably harvested Carolinian hardwoods. “We used their clear pine for our doors and spalted maple for live edge shelves in the kitchen,” Stephen says.
A demolished Chatham-area barn provided the base for the kitchen island and the ensuite bathroom vanity. Cabinets were constructed by Aylmer’s Möbelhaus Fine Cabinetry.
Stephen also gives a nod to longtime friend Chad Pressey, now owner of Matthews Pressey Construction in Penticton, B.C., who helped with many aspects of the project, including hand-building the interior doors.
Flooring in the home is local wormy maple, a light wood with grey and black streaks created by an infestation of the ambrosia beetle, in the kitchen, living room and bedrooms, with darker red maple in the foyer.
The kitchen counter handles and the home’s curtain rods are fashioned from pieces of driftwood and branches that the Hotchkisses found on their property.