Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Build Green, Right Down to the Foundation

Now that the year is wrapping up, the holidays are upon us, and the first season of Mike's new show Holmes Makes It Right is in the rear view mirror (at least for Canada), there's a strange but peaceful lull in new content to post. I've been busy busy busy, as usual, making my very awesome Christmas present for Mike, his crew, and all of you, and I can't wait to debut it right here on December 24.

In the meantime, enjoy this very neat and informative little article I found, originally posted on the BC Hydro (electric company) website in 2008. Mike Holmes has always been a proponent of green, sustainable building. Building "green" for Holmes goes beyond installing energy efficient appliances. It's about building with all non toxic materials, from the foundation to the roof. It's about building a home to be resistant to fire and mold. Most of all, it's about building smart and doing what makes sense. What is safe for the environment is also safe for people, and good builders always keep both in mind. "Let's build better houses. It make sense to me, and I'm going to do it," emphasizes Mike on the importance of building safe and building green. Read on...

 April 25, 2008

Build green, right down to the foundation: Mike Holmes

Mary Frances Hill

Mike Holmes is a warlord for the homeowner, the desperate, confused, the taken. His credo, "Make It Right", comforts those who've been had by comparatively shoddy contractors who've left them with unwieldy foundations, dangerous wiring jobs, lopsided work, and huge bills.
On Holmes on Homes, airing at least twice a day, every day, on HGTV, he sweeps in – a saviour in brown coveralls, comforting those left with shoddy workmanship by unscrupulous contractors.
A hero he certainly was to the hundreds around the mainstage at EPIC, the second annual Sustainability Living Expo at Canada Place on April 19, where he offered tips on "greening" their homes – building or renovating with the highest degree of respect for the natural resources – in a talk called "How Green Can You Go?"
"We have confusion about what 'green' really is," Holmes says. "Builders aren't going to like me for this, but if you're going to brag that you build green homes, the proof is in the pudding. Just because you use a better washer and dryer and fridge, a six-litre flush toilet, and an air cleaner, have you built a green home? It's not even close to green."

Why are we building toxic, flammable homes?

It's what's contained in the bare bones of the home – the foundation and the frame, he says, that make the difference.
"And here's why: a lot of the products used in the building of our homes are very powerful,” he says. “The foundation coating is so toxic that you are not allowed to use it on the inside of your home, which a lot of contractors think they can do."
Holmes points to many of these toxins as flammable agents. "Why are we building houses that can burn? I don't get it. There are so many different things on the market that we could be using. We can make a home fireproof. And one of the most important factors in a green home is how we insulate. There are products out there that are environmentally friendly."

A big fan of in-floor heating

Holmes offered a variety of other tips: replace thermal barriers with thermal breaks, to inhibit the appearance and growth of mould, and install in-floor heating – a feature that Holmes can get enthusiastic about.
"In-floor heating is the most environmentally energy-efficient product in the world,” he said. “If your feet are warm, you're warm, if your feet are cold, you're cold, it doesn't matter what the thermostat is set at."
In short, to green the home, consider the structure first and foremost. "Only then, should we talk about the six-litre flush toilet that only takes one flush. And only after that should you talk about adding in the energy-efficient fridge."

Cradle to grave: Check out where products came from

Holmes suggests that homeowners grill their building supply retailers and contractors about the source of every product they use. He suggests that products used in home construction should be designed with 'cradle to grave' principles in mind.
"Cradle to grave means designing a product that is environmentally friendly from the beginning, to the middle to the end of its life. Let's talk about concrete: how much energy does it take to build concrete? A hell of a lot. It takes a little more to make in the beginning, with the costs of transportation and getting it to the job. However, a concrete home will outlast any other home made of anything, including wood."

So long Holmes on Homes, hello New Orleans

Seven seasons into Holmes on Homes, the famous contractor is calling it quits – on the HGTV show, at least. "Three hundred sixty-five days a year, seven days a week non-stop of filming, three to five shows at a time. I think it's time for me to say enough with Holmes on Homes. We've helped more than 100 families, and that's a lot of money."
Holmes will travel to New Orleans, Lousiana, where he'll help people who've lost their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The show will be called Make It Right. Afterward, he'll settle for some time in Africa – "and I'm going to 'make it right' in Africa."
He's also set up the Holmes Foundation, an initiative that encourages young people to pursue the trades when they make their career decisions.

Green Holmes on the way

On the home front, so to speak, he has launched a development company with some far-reaching goals that, if achieved, may change the way we live altogether. He's planning on crafting homes that are immune to damage in the case of fire, flood or other disasters.
"How would you like to have a home that will not burn down, will not fall down, and is totally environmentally friendly and greener than green? I've thought about doing this for years. Let's build better houses. It make sense to me, and I'm going to do it."

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