Discover how trend-setting neighbours in the Sooke region are tapping into nature’s energy grid, modernizing time-honoured natural building techniques and finding creative ways to minimize their environmental impacts while saving money in the bargain.
The second Sooke Ecohome Tour offers six examples of how the common-sense energy revolution is taking root in the region. Three homes are in Sooke, three in East Sooke. Nice-priced tickets ($5 per person/$10 per carload) will be available *only* on event day at the Stick In The Mud Coffee House (corner of Eustace and Otter Point roads in downtown Sooke) and at each of our participating venues.
Our 2017 tour stops from east-to-west:
* The Rainbird Ridge Econest, an in-progress, off-grid Econest near East Sooke Provincial Park’s Aylard Farm. Built with local natural materials (straw and clay included) and designed as a sustainable, long-lasting healthy home. Timbers and much of the lumber was milled onsite. Clay was sourced from Sooke and straw from Saanich. The solar-powered home incorporates a Faswall (recycled pallet based) foundation, passive solar design, a masonry heater, heat exchange water heater, earthen floors, rain water collection and grey water irrigation, along with many other elements to reduce the use of fossil fuels and the impact on the land and to create a healthy living environment. 310 Becher Bay Road. Hosts: Shyanne Smith and family with guest Keary Conwright from Sooke’s KC Natural Homes. https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbirdeconest/
* “The Harmless Home,” a Net Zero family residence with panoramic JDF views now being constructed by Ridgeco Developments not far from Becher Bay Road. Exterior walls are the first to utilize interlocking Just BioFiber blocks, manufactured in Calgary and delivering cozy R40 insulation from a durable mix of concrete and hemp fiber. Once complete, the home will have 16kW of solar panels, Tesla Powerwall back-up batteries, a level-2 septic system and an extensive rainwater collection system to augment the on-site well. Host: Arno Keinonen. 5200 East Sooke Road. (Please park carefully on the verge of East Sooke Road; shuttle vehicle service via Arno’s Tesla to site). https://www.harmlesshome.ca
* A 238-sq ft retreat and working space built this year on a rural property off Kangaroo Road for professional health practitioners Vibeke Vaerum and Michael Cruickshanks. Featuring hand-tooled wood frame construction with almost entirely wood finishings, it was completed without drywall or paint for health, environmental and aesthetic reasons. Rainwater harvesting and composting systems are on site. 1635 Selborne Drive. Guest: Builder/designer Forest Adam from Homes With Love.
* A town centre Sooke home with 14 solar panels (300w photovoltaic, installed last year by Viridian Energy Co-Operative) that have lowered the annually averaged hydro bill to a current $56/month. The panels also power a 30 amp EV charger for a 2017 Nissan Leaf. Other features here include a solar hot water system that preheats city water before it gets to the electric water heater; and a beer-can furnace to warm the home’s crawl space in the winter. 2098 Solent Road North. Hosts: Gord Fulcher and Lis Johansen with guest Steve Unger from Viridian Energy Co-Op.
Plus two residences back by popular demand from last year’s tour …
* A solar-powered west-end Sooke permaculture oasis featuring a diverse food garden and a supporting infrastructure that includes rainwater catchment, grey water irrigation, water filtration and a team of industrious worker chickens. 2179 Henlyn Drive. Host: Steve Hindrichs with guests Kuan Jian Foo (Energy Manager, Veridian Energy Co-Op) and Brian MacNeill (Sun-Mar composters and composting toilets).
* A super-efficient and thoroughly modern farmstead in bucolic Otter Point with rammed-earth (clay, sand, cement) walls and roof-mounted solar vacuum tubes that power the radiant in-floor hot water system. 2358 Kemp Lake Road. Hosts: Christine Bossi, Martin Bissig and family. Talk by KC Natural Homes’ Keary Conwright at 11:30 am. Bonus: Enjoy a cup of Herbal Tea Station licorice mint tea, harvested and prepared by Martin on site with a solar drying station.
Note: Organizers are seeking one more Sooke home to add to the tour. Might it be yours? No alt.energy extras required! If you’re an exemplar of household e-smarts — i.e., weatherproofed doors and windows, water-heater blankets, energy efficient appliances, LED lighting, perhaps a wood-pellet stove or heat pump, etc. — and are happy to welcome drop-in visitors, please let us know by October 9 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll assign a volunteer assistant to help. Our goal: To demonstrate that proven, low-or-no-cost initiatives like your own are the starting point for everyone’s energy conservation gameplan.
* According to our loose definition, an ecohome (new or retrofit) uses building techniques and/or technology to create energy savings and a substantially lower carbon footprint in both construction and ongoing operation. Insulation and airtightness, passive solar orientation, thermal mass building materials, renewable energy sources (solar, heat pump, biomass), rainwater harvesting, greywater collection and recycled building materials are considerations.
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