A rewarding experience despite challenges
Although Chevrier and Rhéaume say they found the LEED v4 rating system to be very clear and able to be used as a construction checklist, there were still a few hurdles in pursuing certification and in the construction process in general. Given their rural location, it was not feasible to obtain a few of the credits focusing on access to urban infrastructure such as transit. They also had to work through issues related to using verified sustainable materials and resources in the project, such as their cement provider being unable to guarantee that the recycled content they used from a demolished cement overpass did not contain pyrite.
Given this was a self-build project, the couple were responsible for managing the construction site, which was made more challenging by building during a brutal -36 C winter. Meanwhile, architectural elements had to comply not only with environmental and regional priorities, but also with the architectural heritage of the area.
Still, despite the demanding nature of the project, the pair say they found it to be a rewarding experience: “We would do it again in a heartbeat.”
A new passion for green living
“This home was not built by a turnkey contractor or a corporation. It was built by someone’s Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa.”
For Chevrier and Rhéaume, their retirement project has inspired a passion for sustainable, holistic living and a change in lifestyle, which they hope to share with others. “Do it and don’t look back,” they say. “You can’t be half green or half eco.” This LEED Platinum certification also proves that sustainable building can be achieved at the grassroots level. “This home was not built by a turnkey contractor or a corporation. It was built by someone’s Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa.”
This was something they leveraged as part of their experience, through networking with other homeowners who have built LEED or Passive House homes. These conversations were a precious resource, with the couple observing that people were openly honest with them about their experiences and were willing to share data and anecdotes that helped them with their choices.
Keeping in line with that, if there is a bit of wisdom Chevrier and Rhéaume can share with others interested in building a LEED home, it would be to remember that they are building their home, not a demonstration house.
“Don’t overdesign or overconsult with engineers, manufacturers, contractors or suppliers. Trust your instinct. People will become interested in your project and some will see it as the golden opportunity to test out their products, knowledge or procedures using your time and budget.”
“LEED v4 is a good template – but it’s up to you to know how you will use it under the guidance of professionals and other stakeholders. At the end of the day, you must be happy with what you have achieved, because it is your path and your destination.”
To read more about L’Heure Bleue de Charlevoix, visit the project blog at construiremaisonecocharlevoix.blogspot.com.