Homespa alleviates chaos when greening your home
Posted in June's Kelowna Real Estate Blog on August 18, 2007
Like finding the perfect blue among the 1,000-plus options at a paint store, going green in and around your home can seem like an overwhelming task.
With so much information to wade through, from popular media's green-with-ease tips to the growing plethora of Internet resources, determining the best options for greening your own home can require a lot of time, perseverance and patience. Fortunately, for those people lacking one or more of these qualities, there is the HomeSpa program offered by Light House, Vancouver's sustainable building centre.
ECO-PRIMP MY PAD
Launched earlier this summer, the HomeSpa program is a home advisory service designed for residential homeowners looking for personalized green building advice. HomeSpa offers "spa" packages that range from a simple "checkup" or "wellness" program, which may include anything from practical tips for getting started in your home or personalized homecare and maintenance plans, to more comprehensive "rejuvenation" and "complete" options that offer customized prescriptions for an addition or renovation. Using a client-centred, comprehensive approach the service aims to provide customers with customized, market-neutral advice on how to green a residence.
WHO WANTS PAMPERING
"People were coming to Light House's Green Building 101 Workshops and at the end asking if there is anyone who could come and tell them what their house needed," says Eileen Keenan, one of the program's three consultants.
A U.K.-registered architect, who has been designing and building passive solar and energy efficient homes for more than 15 years, Keenan understands how intimidating renovating can be to homeowners. "Just look at TV shows like Holmes on Homes," she says. "People want one-on-one attention. That translation from the general to the specific is really important. They want reassurance that they are doing the right thing."
Notes Julie Hardy, another of the program's consultants: "Clients often come to us at a loss about what to do. So much information is out there, and they are not sure what is available and where to start.''
Principal of JMH Home Environmental Solutions, and an environmental engineering technologist by training, Hardy sees HomeSpa as an opportunity to help people see green building as a holistic and integrated approach for personal and environmental wellness.
While most people come to the program wanting advice on energy efficiency, information on energy grants, as well as recommendations and tips for hiring contractors and service providers, a growing number of young families are also coming with concerns about how the home can affect children's health.
"Every house poses its own challenges and parameters," says Hardy.
"We help people decipher information, understand how things work, and determine what are the best options for them."
While the program was initially aimed at residential homeowners, builders and developers have been the program's customers so far.
"Builders are starting to see how green building can offer added value to their clients," says Hardy.
"Builders are also coming to HomeSpa to help them meet the needs of their savvy clients," says Patricia McClong, an artist and designer who brings 30 years of environmental work experience to her role as a HomeSpa consultant.
Simon Baston, of Baston Properties, describes the HomeSpa program as having "smoothed the passage and simplified the process" for his entry into green design.
Looking to be the first developer on the North Shore to offer high-end, eco-friendly and ultimately carbon-neutral homes, Baston, a U.K. transplant, came to HomeSpa ready to throw everything possible into his first project.
While the residence will still showcase some impressive green features -- geothermal, active and passive solar technology, salvaged materials and rainwater harvesting -- Baston says the HomeSpa team's professional and practical approach helped him create a more balanced and marketable design.
Interested in getting more green guidance, but not ready for the spa experience? The following are a few of Light House's other enlightening programs and resources.
The Truly Checklist: Whether you are looking to buy a home, or merely want a simple do-it-yourself "test" for the home you're in, the Light House "Truly Green Homebuyers Checklist," is a short, concise primer on what constitutes a green home and what to look for when shopping around. Available online at www. sustainablebuildingcentre.com.
Wading In: Want to move a little farther into the cool, green end of things. You are not the only one.
In response to overwhelming interest, Light House now offers a two-hour, non-technical "Green Building 101" for homeowners interested in learning how to "green" their home.
Workshop participants can expect to gain a general understanding of green design ideas, issues and processes, develop a set of personal green goals for their home, and leave with a practical resource workbook.
Addressing the Strata Quo: Even the best green intentions can be thwarted by a reluctant strata council. Recognizing that strataowners have their own unique needs and challenges, Light House plans to offer Green Building 101 for Strata Dwellers and Co-ops.
Using real-world case studies and practical examples, the course will demonstrate how people can go green in their homes and play a part in transforming their whole building. Included in the workshop's resource material is a sample action plan for approaching strata councils.
(prepared by Kim Davies/Vancouver Sun)
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