The Confluence

Southern Alberta family builds new home inspiring a greener world

(© Pavel Hájek)© Pavel Hájek

In 2007, Gerton and Joleen Molenaar purchased a bungalow that was originally built as a cabin. Chosen for its location, the small home served its purpose for over 30 years but it was only meant to be a summer home and the growing family realized that the house required upgrading.

The discussion began as an addition and eventually settled on building a brand-new home. After meeting with several consultants, they learned about the Living Building Challenge and approached the Southern Alberta Institute of Technologies (SAIT) Green Building Technologies and Woodpecker European Timber Framing to enlist the expertise needed to execute the complex challenge.

Now, ‘The Confluence’ the home is 2,238-square feet and designed to produce more energy than it uses, captures water, incorporate FSC-certified materials, and minimal construction waste. After three years of construction, the home is now complete.

"The Confluence is unlike the three other fully certified LBC projects before it," explained Tracey Chala, SAIT Green Building Technologies principal investigator. "The home is located in a remote hamlet bound by the challenges of a northern climate compared to its suburban, more southerly counterparts. And, where some of those other projects had budgets of several million, this home will be completed for a fraction of that."

Inspiring a greener world

To achieve the Living Building Challenge certification, the home must adhere to seven areas of sustainability during construction. Amongst other requirements, all wood used in projects must be FSC certified, from salvaged sources, or intentionally harvested from onsite timber for the purpose of clearing the site.

For homeowners Joleen and Gerton Molenaar, the goal has always been to build the best possible home for their family and future generations.

"Having a family, becoming a parent and being responsible for their lives, is the reason we built a Living Building Challenge home — one that protects their health and the environment,” says Gerton Molenaar.

Using FSC Wood

One of the goals was to source locally (within 500 km of the site) which made it challenging to find FSC-certified products. With support from FSC Canada, a conversation took place with NorSask Forest Products Inc., Mistik Management Ltd., and the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) to secure FSC certified lumber. In the end, the team was able to secure 2 lifts of FSC certified lumber from MLTC.

The partners now await word from officials with the Living Building Challenge on full certification. If ‘The Confluence’ receives full certification, it's expected to become the fourth home in the world to achieve such stature.

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000205