Monday, April 21, 2014

For Earth's Sake

With Earth Day around the corner, people are thinking of ways they can help make the world a better place. Believe it or not, when it comes to building, it pays big to build sustainably. Not only does employing energy saving technology such as solar and geothermal better for the environment, but it also saves homeowners big money off of their utility bills. In the article below, Mike Holmes talks about the strategy of building sustainably. Using better materials that last means less waste in landfills from replacing inferior products. Building smart means carefully considering location to best utilize both existing infrastructure and the natural landscape to maximize efficiency. Lastly, Mike understands the importance of building sustainable homes that are both efficient and affordable so that everyone can buy a safe and environmentally friendly home that build to last.
From the Leader Post:

Build to last for earth's sake

Regina Leader Post April 21, 2014


Earth Day on April 22 is a good time to think about sustainable construction, which includes building clean and responsibly.

Photograph by: The Holmes Group, Regina Leader Post

I’ve been talking about sustainable construction for years, and Earth Day on April 22 is a good time to learn more about it.

First, what is sustainable construction? It means building clean and responsibly — doing what we can to use fewer non-renewable resources. It also means building for the long-term and using materials that resist mould, moisture and rot, so they last longer and don’t end up in landfills.

Another big part of sustainable construction is using renewable resources, like solar, wind power and/or geothermal — which uses the constant temperature of the ground deep below to regulate temperature in the home. It might also include adding a green roof to help keep a home cool in summer, or using a rainwater or grey water system to flush toilets, water lawns and wash our cars.

Sustainable construction is also about location — choosing the right places to build so we’re making the most of what’s already there, from infrastructures like public transit to the natural landscape for proper drainage. It also means doing it right the first time, which prevents future problems, such as mould and rot, that can lead to more serious health issues and more waste.

Some home builders today are starting to realize this, and you can see it in the way they build their homes. For example, they will use durable exterior cladding systems that incorporate cement board and rain screen to prevent moisture buildup and mould.

They might also give homeowners the option of using treated lumber in their home’s sheathing and framing, making it resistant to fire and moisture, or incorporating a heat-recovery system to recapture waste heat and use it to preheat a home’s domestic hot water.

Responsible home builders care about the environment and sustainable construction because they know it has a direct impact on the way people live inside their homes, as well as on their health and quality of life. The benefits speak for themselves, and they’re speaking loud and clear.

For starters, building sustainably saves homeowners money, making more home-buyers interested in energy-efficient homes.

That wasn’t the case 10 years ago. Homebuyers never used to ask about the energy efficiency of a home’s windows or furnace, or the R-value (resistance to heat loss) of the insulation in the basement, walls and attic.

It used to be all about the “eye candy” — things like stainless steel appliances, granite counter-tops, ceramic tiles, hardwood flooring and crown moulding.

People still care about these features, which I get. But they’re also asking about a home’s building envelope, how tightly sealed it is, how efficient those stainless steel appliances really are, and the proper subfloor systems that protect and support the flooring on top.

The dream home of the future will have less to do with fancy finishes and more to do with energy savings, and that’s a step in the right direction.

When you incorporate the right technologies with the right systems — always using the right pros — you can build a home that not only looks good, but also produces as much energy as it uses — sometimes more. And whatever energy you don’t use can be sold back to the grid. Who wouldn’t like that?

This shift in mindset — for both home builders and homebuyers — is changing the industry for the better. For example, we’re going to see more net-zero homes, meaning they produce as much energy as they consume, thanks to incorporating renewable energy systems, like a solar-electric system, and sometimes wind power too.

One last thing about sustainable construction: It should be affordable. That’s the only way we’re going to see the real impact of building sustainably. What would be the point of having all of these great solutions if no one can afford to use them?

This Earth Day, let’s think about the kinds of homes and communities we want our kids and grandkids to grow up in, because the decisions we make today will affect how they live tomorrow. Let’s make it right! Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit

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