By Diane Slawych

It’s been featured on CTV television as one of Canada’s most environmentally sustainable homes and toured by school groups as a model of green building technology. Now this “one-of-a-kind” earth sheltered home in southwestern Ontario, which allows occupants the option to live on or off the grid, is for sale.

“It’s the Rolls Royce of green homes,” says listing agent Rebecca Johnson of Sutton Team Realty in Brantford. “It’s built to the highest LEED platinum standards.” (The LEED certification program is an industry-recognized system for evaluating the design and construction of sustainable buildings.)

The home was built about 10 years ago for about $1 million.
The home was built about 10 years ago for about $1 million.

The 2,700-square-foot home is near Princeton, Ont., southwest of Toronto and is listed for $999,000, slightly less than it cost to construct.

The environmentalist owners, one of whom is the former co-ordinator and professor of energy management at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology in Almonte, Ont., had the home built in 2008/2009 for about $1 million, but now they’re moving east and have to sell.

Designed by Guelph bio-architect David McAuley, the home, which has a green roof, is earth sheltered on the north side for minimal heating and cooling all year round, while the south side features four-pane windows, skylights and a solarium that runs the entire length of the home for plenty of natural light.

An on-grid MicroFIT 10kW Solar Tracker backfeeds the grid and provides income of about $1,100 a month or $14,000 a year (with about 12 years left on the Hydro One contract). Separate solar systems that power the house store energy and heat the water.

A spiral staircase leads to a loft, which could serve as an office or reading room.
A spiral staircase leads to a loft, which could serve as an office or reading room.

Other features include an efficient bio-mass pellet (corn) stove that can inexpensively heat the entire home in colder months (there’s also a propane furnace); a well that provides clean drinking water; two wind turbines – one for the house and the other for the grid; non VOC paints and FSC certified building products.

“Most people, when they look at alternative living and being off the grid, they shy away and figure it’s complicated,” says Johnson. “With this one, there’s a keypad in the living room and with the flick of a switch, you can be off the grid or on the grid like anybody else.”

The home, which is on two acres surrounded by indigenous vegetation, has three large bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms (one with a whirlpool tub), an unfinished basement, lots of storage space, an open-concept main living area finished with polished/etched concrete floors with in-floor heating and a spiral staircase to a loft, which could serve as an office or reading room. There’s also an above-ground pool, a double detached garage and a 1,000-square-foot workshop that would suit a hobbyist or car enthusiast.

Johnson says the home would be ideal for someone who is forward thinking, wants a private piece of land and appreciates the additional income. “It could work for someone with a home office, and there’s access to the highway for commuting. It’s between Highway 401 and Highway 403, with easy access to Toronto, Brantford and Woodstock.”

Princeton, with a population of about 500, is a community in Blandford-Blenheim, which is part of Oxford County and close to stores, restaurants and an LCBO.

Johnson says people have been curious about the home since it was listed on April 3. “Since they built it, we’ve become more aware as a society about green living” and some millennial groups have tagged it on social media.

How long it remains on the market is anyone’s guess. But the answer may indicate the level of genuine interest among potential buyers to live in an environmentally friendly, low carbon footprint eco-home.


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