At one house green, we build houses in a way that is different from most construction firms. Our core principles are ‘health’, ‘durability’, and ‘aesthetics’. No single principle is more important than another, and the system as a whole functions only with an equal contribution from all three. These principles, in conjunction with our collective years of design and construction experience, uniquely shape each project.
When we talk about our core principles, we start with health. If we are not building a healthy house first and foremost, we are missing the mark entirely. Health is a very broad subject and goes to the wellbeing of the residents and that of the trades and suppliers who help us to create these buildings. It goes to the health of the neighbors, the community, and its members. It encompasses the bigger pictures of provincial, national, and global health, taking into account waste management and embodied energies of needed materials and systems.
Secondly is durability. Although often overlooked, we feel very strongly about a building’s lifecycle. We consider its longevity in terms of centuries not decades. We look at the functionality of a building for future generations and not just for the time we may live in it. A building with a solid “core” structure can be remodeled or renovated – it can have the exterior cladding replaced or the interior space re-purposed, all at relatively low cost and the building itself will live on. The challenge today, is that few would consider the house they are building as being disposable. In reality, if that house is in need of major repair or no longer serves its purpose after 50 years, it is just that – disposable.
Finally we have aesthetics. As most people know it, aesthetics includes the details and the style. These are things that make a house feel personalized for us, make us feel happy when we think of where we live, and provide security from the outside world – a place to love and be loved. In short, aesthetics includes the things that a client brings to the process, taking it from being a house, to becoming a home. Aesthetics is also more than how a building looks. It is how the design of the building allows it to interact with its environment. For example, “passive solar heating”. This is the strategic placement of windows and shading elements that allow a building to take on heat when needed. At a different time of year, the shading system would limit that same direct sunlight from entering the building and overheating the space.
At one house green, we believe that in order to create truly sustainable housing, we need to rethink the building process. It isn’t enough to make minor improvements to materials and techniques. We need to recognize that the way we have being doing things is largely ineffective and inefficient. Good enough is no longer good enough.
The good news about green building is that we embrace a lot of the things that most people want in a house anyway: large windows to allow in sunlight and beautiful views; high levels of insulation to create comfortable spaces with low (or no) utility bills; floor plans customized for the clients’ needs; and larger yards for children and adults to play. In short, our houses are sources of energy for our clients, as much as they are for the environment.
At one house green, we are designers first and foremost. We are talented and enjoy collaboration. We believe that our houses should respect our clients beliefs, ideals, and lifestyles, in addition to respecting the environment.