We have never been people who simply followed trends, or worried about labels. We don’t build new homes that meet some marketing check list. No, that’s just not us. We got into this business to pursue a dream and to build the kind of homes that we would want for ourselves. You can call us old fashioned, but frankly, we get a kick out of building homes that we are proud to stand behind. That is what gets us out our beds in the morning. It is similar with our approach to sustainable or green construction. We are not worried about labels, we just want to do the right thing, and minimize our impact on the environment in the process.
One of the biggest environmental impacts of building infill homes in mature neighbourhoods comes from what builders do in order to prepare the lot(s) for construction. Typically there are existing buildings that must be demolished, and mature trees that get in the way of the construction process and must be removed. As a self confessed ‘tree hugger’, I hate the thought of destroying trees that, in some cases, have been on our earth longer than myself and have witnessed so much history in their neighbourhoods. But demolishing buildings brings an even larger environmental impact. A Canadian government website claims that up to 1/3 of all municipal solid waste comes from Construction, Renovation and Demolition (CRD), resulting in valuable resources being wasted and contributing to our problems of waste management and climate change.
Well, this strikes us as a reckless way to treat mother earth and so we decided to just do things a little differently. It has been more difficult than it should be, but we are happy with the results. For example; in the case of our two latest projects in Westboro – the new homes on Tweedsmuir avenue and Athlone avenue, we went to great lengths to save as many trees as we could, and to salvage the buildings that were there. In the case of Tweedsmuir avenue, there was a run down building on the site, but we were able to salvage and donate components of the building, including windows, roof trusses and the like. Heck, we even managed to dig up and give away flowers that were on the property. In addition, we have gone to great lengths to keep several evergreen trees on the property. We even engaged an arborist who has us painting any roots exposed by the excavation process with bees wax. We have brought in a truckload of wood chips to spread around the tree, and put up fencing in order to reduce compression and improve the chance that these beautiful trees will survive.
Over on Athlone avenue, we have spent a great deal of time searching for someone that could make use of the existing building, which was in pretty good shape. Fortunately, we were able to find someone who was willing and able to take the building away, and it has been lifted off its foundations and is now awaiting permits to be moved. We are also taking additional measures to preserve the two beautiful maple trees on property. It is making it difficult to remove the existing house, but it will be worth it in order to keep these mature trees as part of the community.
Has it been easy – no! But it is the right thing to do.