Designed for eco living

Nick Myall
Monday 15 Aug 2016

Certified LEED® Platinum and Novoclimat 2.0, the Eco Home ERE 132 is a showcase of excellence in green building that can be visited at Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens, Canada

Designed and constructed by a multi-disciplinary team, the Reford Gardens / Jardins de Métis Eco Home ERE 132 features eco-friendly products and technologies that illustrate the expertise of Lower St. Lawrence region of Canada. ERE 132 is a centre for excellence offering an opportunity to discover, exchange and explore the latest research in the field of sustainable building.

During the tourist season, from June to September, visitors to the Reford Gardens have access to a program that is centred on the theme “To build is to choose”, illustrating the benefits of green building. From October to May, the ERE 132 Eco Home is available for rent for short stays, business meetings or creative residencies for artists. The house is suitable for disabled guests and can accommodate up to six people in three bedrooms.

Many factors influence the cost of a home’s construction or renovation: square footage, materials, insulation levels, mechanical systems, landscaping, etc. Beyond the cost of materials, take into account the recurring costs - energy and maintenance - before making your choices. Here are a few that have been made by the architects:

Absence of a basement: The basement is a space that has a very high environmental impact because it significantly increases the amount of cement necessary for construction. A ton of Portland cement produces nearly a ton of greenhouse gases (GHG). A basement can also present many risks and inconveniences: humidity, flooding, mold, lack of light.

Opt for a home built on a slab-on-grade instead of a conventional basement foundation because basements in Quebec homes often pose problems. Basements cost as much to build as an additional floor and can lead to humidity problems (and can even lead to serious complications because of water leakage). Basements also require a lot of concrete, a large emitter of greenhouse gases. To compensate for the lack of space, an additional floor can be built: a solution that is more energy-efficient, presents fewer environmental hazards, is more comfortable and has a higher resale value.

Surface area of a home: It is important to assess the real needs for space to make economies on the costs of construction and maintenance. It is important to note that a home that is well designed can be small in surface area, but can provide a spacious living area. In Canada, the average size of a new home is 2,450 ft2 (228 m2). ERE 132 has 1,867 ft2 (173 m2) of heated area.

Structural elements: The best options to consider are solid wood, prefabricated factory panels, double-stud walls, concrete molding and straw-bale walls. They are among the most environmental and economical. ERE 132: additional cost of $12,000 for the double-stud wall.

Hyper-insulation of the home: A solution that allows you to save plenty of money on heating costs in the long term. It is important to choose insulation materials that are both healthy and affordable, such as cellulose, wood fibre, straw or hemp, in sufficient quantity. ERE 132: additional cost of $11,600 for the hyper-insulation of the home (attic space, walls and slab-on-grade).

High-quality, durable and environmentally-friendly surfaces: Interior and exterior walls in wood, a roof with cedar shingles and wood and concrete floors are among the best choices. The home will not have to be renovated in a long time. This is a source of significant savings and is environmentally friendly.

Openings, doors and windows: It is important to focus on the location of the doors and windows and on their quality and efficiency. South facing doors and windows allow to maximize the heat input. Choosing an ENERGY STAR® rating: their quality and efficiency are certified.

This integrated design project was carried out by a multidisciplinary team from the Lower St. Lawrence Region in Quebec, with the support of the ACCORD regional “cluster of excellence” in eco-construction and collaboration of Écohabitation. Experts involved come from the fields of architecture, sustainable development, engineering, design and development: Les Architectes Goulet et Lebel, Groupe Architecture MB, CONTACT Innovation, Tetra Tech, Hélène Tremblay Groupe design and Imaginature. The construction of the house was entrusted to Kamco Construction.

A project that mobilised an entire region, the ERE 132 Eco Home has benefited from the financial involvement of public, private and institutional partners. In total, more than 80 organisations - including fifty manufacturing firms and professional services that were members of the Green Building cluster - rallied behind the challenges of sustainable development with the aim to vitalize the regional economy by building green.

The Reford Gardens are open every day up to October 2, 2016. Children 13 and under are admitted free of charge. Hydro-Québec has been the lead sponsor of the Reford Gardens since 1999.

WAN House of the Year Award 2016 now open. For more information contact:

+44(0)1273 201 123

Nick Myall

News editor

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