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A few initiatives for living a better life on the planet

Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, awarded LEED platinum certification in 2015
Credit: Space for Life (Raymond Jalbert)
Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, awarded LEED platinum certification in 2015
  • Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, awarded LEED platinum certification in 2015
  • Tiny house
A few initiatives for living a better life on the planet

We’ve collectively gotten into the habit of living in houses whose characteristics are not necessarily in synch with the needs of nature. But that’s bound to change. Increasingly we’re taking an interest in reducing the environmental impact of our homes. Here are five innovative ways of living on the planet.

Tiny houses

“Tiny houses” depend on restricting their surface as a means of reducing their ecological footprint. The idea is to make space as functional as possible. The creators of these homes vie with one another in ingenuity to make every square centimeter in the place efficient. They take advantage of the entire height of the building, and rooms are often installed on a mezzanine; but they also give thought to furniture that transforms from one thing into another to make room for a different use of the premises. For example, a bed tilts up against a wall and turns into a desk.

A number of builders are also using green technologies to lessen the environmental impact of their houses. Solar panels, water recovery systems and dry toilets are relatively common. These houses are less expensive and, since they’re sometimes mounted on a trailer, they can be easily moved.

Ecohomes

However, it’s not necessary to live in a very small place in order to leave less of a mark on the environment. For some years, LEED certification has offered a guide for architects and builders interested in building green homes.

This industry has come a long way. Today we find specialized businesses that make available ecological houses at prices close to those of traditional homes. And often, the energy savings involved makes it possible to quickly absorb the additional expense.

It’s wrong to believe that this option is best suited for country living. In fact, LEED certification, which works on a point system, places great emphasis on the site of the construction and its access to public transportation. Cities are therefore great places for building. (Incidentally, a condo project named La Géode, on de La Roche Street near Lafontaine Park in Montréal, is the first multifamily building to achieve LEED v4 certification in Canada.)

And that’s also true for other urban buildings such as libraries or office towers. The proof: the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan was awarded LEED platinum certification in 2015.

Energy self-generation

There’s a strong trend, in several countries in the world, towards producing energy at home . Although that’s a little less true in Québec, given that with the low cost of our electricity people are less eager to find alternative solutions, some people are nevertheless taking the step.

First, because the price of the technologies has dropped a lot. A Radio-Canada report revealed that Glenn Hodjuns, a resident of Hemmingford, installed solar panels on his roof for $21,000, and he thinks he’ll have recouped his investment in 10 years.

Another interesting initiative is the Celsius project in Montréal’s Rosemont district. It aims to create geothermal networks in three neighborhood lanes in order to offer air conditioning and heating to the homes around them and thereby reduce their energy consumption and dependencies. Construction should take place in 2019.

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