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This article was published 8/9/2015 (712 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Geese fly down to land on the retention pond next to Paul Brault’s park-like backyard. While geese can be messy, the local wildlife is a plus as far as Brault and his wife Catherine Moltzan are concerned.
"We’ve seen deer and coyotes," Brault said.
The couple moved into their home in Headingley’s Deer Pointe development about a year ago. From the street, their new home looks beautiful but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The couple’s four-bedroom home is one of about 20 in Manitoba built to meet the international LEED green building standard. Some of the others are homes built through Habitat for Humanity Manitoba and are much smaller than Brault and Moltzan’s approximately 4,400-square-foot home.
The LEED green building rating system was developed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.
Brault said he and Moltzan starting talking about moving out of Winnipeg a few years ago. He was approaching retirement from his job as an environmental health and safety manager, and they were ready to build their dream home.
"We were looking for the perfect spot," Brault said. "This was picture-perfect for us."
Trained as an electrician and skilled in project management, Brault decided that rather than have Winnipeg builder Maric Homes construct a custom home for his family, he wanted to tackle the lengthy process of having a home built to LEED standards.
"This is our first LEED project," Peri Maric, vice-president of architectual design with Maric Homes, said. "Paul was kind of our guinea pig."
After a few months of research and planning, with Brault acting as project manager, construction began in July 2013. However, the house didn’t go up quickly as every step had to meet LEED standards.
"We had to look at literally hundreds of different aspects in building this home," Brault said. "There are a lot of checks and balances."
He was on-site every day — often with coffee and snacks for the builders — to help make decisions.
Maric said that, due to Manitoba’s variable climate, most newly constructed homes meet many of the environmental and energy-efficient targets set out by LEED, such as incorporating low-flow toilets and using highly energy-efficient insulation. However, construction of Brault’s home was governed by LEED design categories. These include sustainability of the site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environment.
The house is located close to one of Headingley’s active transportation pathways. It is equipped with water and energy efficient fixtures such as a water sprinkler system regulated by a soil moisture monitor. A computer app controls a window blind system that can be programmed to raise and lower blinds on the main floor’s many windows to help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. A geothermal heating system is supplemented with small gas fireplaces.
One of the house’s main design features is the extensive use of Manitoba limestone and wood.
"A vast majority of the house is made of local material," Brault said. "We tried to source whatever we could locally."
A fan of famous American architect and interior designer Frank Lloyd Wright, Brault added interior design elements and custom-made stained glass windows reflecting Wright’s style.
He and Maric plan to appear before the Canada Building Council later this month to apply for LEED gold level certification for the house. They will present a binder that Brault created detailing all the steps taken to achieve the LEED standard.
"We fully expect that this house will be a gold-level LEED," Brault said.
While the house’s construction time was longer, and some materials more costly than those used in a regular custom home, Maric estimates that the overall building cost for Brault’s house was only about 10 per cent higher. He said having Brault work as project manager helped lower the total cost.
Maric is pleased with the LEED project’s success.
"This won’t be our last time," he said.
Brault and his family love their new Headingley home. "We plan to stay here," he said.