Quebec couple construct Canada’s second LEED V4 home

A Quebec couple’s picturesque retirement home along the St. Lawrence River has received Canada’s second LEED V4 Platinum home certification.

L'Heure Bleue, constructed in Charlevoix, Que., along the St. Lawrence River, is the second private home in Canada to receive LEED V4 Platinum certification. (Image courtesy CaGBC)

L’Heure Bleue, constructed in Charlevoix, Que., along the St. Lawrence River, is the second private home in Canada to receive LEED V4 Platinum certification. (Image courtesy CaGBC)

The L’Heure Bleue in Charlevoix, Que., is a 2,350-square-foot modern farmhouse revival located on more than two acres of coastal property which is part of a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Homeowners Pierre Chevrier and Suzanne Rhéaume were guided by Quebec LEED Homes Provider Écohabitation for the project, after deciding their ideal retirement residence would be a sustainable space where they could age “gracefully and gratefully.”  

The project incorporates an adaptive design meant to fit changing mobility and accessibility needs, with every aspect focused on ecological awareness, sustainable materials, and environmental management, both indoors and outdoors.

“LEED v4 convinced me that my home would be adapted not only to my personal needs for a healthy lifestyle as an active senior but also as a worthwhile investment I would not regret leaving for our children and grandchildren,” says Rhéaume in a release about the project. “This was a self-build project that became a passion of ours as we networked, researched and rolled up our sleeves.”

Lower costs, healthier home

After seven months in their new home, the couple is seeing lower hydro and water consumption, and health benefits due to an indoor environment with clean air quality and no VOC emissions, natural lighting, and air circulation.

Their hydro bill of less than $60 a month is a fraction of their previous home. Despite using their heat pump and air conditioning infrequently, the house is kept cool during the summer and comfortably warm without overheating during the winter.

“Achieving the Platinum level is very rewarding, but what is even more gratifying is knowing that this home was a grassroots endeavor,” says Rhéaume in the release. “It was built by someone’s mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. This project proves the value of going for LEED v4.”

After looking at a variety of sustainable building options and rating systems, Chevrier and Rhéaume say they chose LEED v4 for its strong holistic approach toward a healthy and autonomous lifestyle, which fit in with their priorities.

The couple also expects the marketability and sales appeal of green features to increase its market value.

“Excellent example” of LEED benefits

 “The L’Heure Bleue project is an excellent example of why LEED works for homeowners,” says Mark Hutchinson, vice-president of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Green Building Programs.  “It provides a solid template and set of guidelines for going green, and understands the value and importance of the unique needs that homeowners have.

“While other rating systems focus on one or two specific aspects of sustainability, LEED looks at a home from all angles – allowing not just for energy and water savings, but a healthy and fresh indoor environment that will leave a lasting impact.”

Energy consumption is fully monitored, and the home incorporates components from both the WaterSense and ENERGY STAR programs.

The home also provided a learning opportunity for all involved, including tradespeople hired to handle the construction. When they were verifying products used and installation management procedures, Chevrier and Rhéaume say contractors were surprised to realize they were often already using green products or methods.

Features of the project

Some of the project’s other features include:

* Highly insulated and airtight building envelope; 
* An air exchanger and opening windows on the river-facing side of the house; 
* ENERGY STAR-qualified and EnerGuide-rated appliances selected for efficiency;
* LED and natural lighting; 
* Rainwater harvesting and well water usage; 
* A rain garden, xeriscaping, food, forest, and permaculture; 
* And a white clover lawn.

Chevrier and Rheaume have advice for others who might be interested in such a project.

“Don’t overdesign or over-consult with engineers, manufacturers, contractors or suppliers. Trust your instinct,” they told the CaGBC. “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.”

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