Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
World's Greenest Homes -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) on World's Greenest Homes, MAN: 'Coming up

nothing goes to waste.' in a small New York town, This is cellulose insulation. what it's made of.' 'But you'll never guess You can grab it. I can actually grab this? where living in luxury 'Then off to Seattle, is cause for celebration.' recycled wine bottles. The tilework in there is It's got wine cork floors. Chardonnay. 'Cheers. And in Toronto...' 'Why? A lot of people will stop and look. that definitely stands out. Because they designed a green home it's a green home on the move.' In New York, Oh, Shiva, we're moving! 'And ocean-side in Chile, completely off the grid.' a stunning home and the water comes from the valley. We have the solar panels a traditional home is, well...' 'And in Toronto, what looks like this is a pre-prefab home? I mean, you're going to tell me The house went up in six hours. 'Amazing. the world's greenest Join us as we visit on the planet.' and most extraordinary homes

THEME MUSIC New York City lie lush forests Not far from cool and cosmopolitan

of New York State, and the unique towns and villages for any enviro enthusiast. an absolute must-see 'One must-see is in Pomona, live together where environmentalists and artists in a unique co-op community.' a family home Here in Skyview Acres is to lower its carbon footprint. that has taken huge steps at almost 5,000 square feet. 'And huge is right,

geothermal technology, The home is powered by energy-efficient home making it the third most in New York State.'

a zero carbon emissions house. It's very important to us to have and Rabia, a writer, 'Paul, a computer scientist, to respect the environment have raised their family and their love of the arts.' of artwork in our home. We have a lot of different kinds

It's very homey. It has a very intimate feel, the Arts And Crafts style has. which I think Hi, how are you? Hi, John. Nice to see you. How are you doing? Paul, good to see you. it really is an ENERGY STAR home. OK, this plaque, This is our ENERGY STAR home. Well, welcome to our beautiful home. interesting little artifacts All kinds of

and details around this space some kind of wacky thing right here. and you've got This is Miss Rio. I don't know where to go with that. Miss Rio, yes. Miss Rio? It has a name? of flip-flops She's made from the remnants just thrown into the landfill. that are made in Brazil and then It's very comfy. And you can sit on it. I'll have to be the judge of that. OK, go ahead, John. Isn't that nice? It's not too bad. Not bad.

in this space here. A dominant theme of wood

Tell me why we went this way. part of Arts And Crafts. Wood is definitely a very integral - a nice coffered ceiling here. You've got great detail in carpentry very inexpensively and very simply. And it was done and pine strips across it. That's just plywood But it gives a very powerful effect. 'Much of the wood inside the home just outside the home.' came from the woods zero carbon emissions. You built a home that has

I mean, how did you achieve that? with the way the house is set up Well, the zero emissions has to do to be super energy efficient. and cooling system that we use, Because the heating the geothermal system itself whatsoever. produces no carbon emissions but they're all ENERGY STAR-rated. We have a large number of windows, argon-filled low-E glass, They're double-pane, which is the best kind of glass. of sunlight in the winter It allows the most amount in the summer. and the least amount of sunlight

'Smart. ever have to flip on the lights.' And with four skylights, they hardly This desk is an Indian desk. This feels so wonderful. my Indian grandfather's desk This is very much like down in South America. of my ethnic background. I'm drawn to that part to get drawn to - 'And here's something what a great view of nature.' open picture windows here, As you can see, these big, you're in the woods it's just so wonderful to feel like

you're actually elevated, and it feels like like you're in the treetops.

It is. Kitchen's right here? gigantic kitchens. Most American luxury homes have is very intimate But this kitchen, I think,

and everything is very accessible.

the smallest footprint possible 'And they went for biggest energy and space saver.' and the European stove is their a very large oven, Unlike American stoves that have

actually pretty small, these ovens are so it uses a lot less energy. Yes. Oh, wow. So it is tiny. Absolutely. a 20lbs turkey in there. But it's big enough you can put Backsplash really stands out. There's got to be a story. Lots of colour here. My friend Beth, who's a potter, in this checkerboard pattern. made these especially for us It's just so...unique. inspiration for colour, 'For architect Jeffrey Hall's he didn't have to look far.' We were choosing "That's the colour of the stucco." and Jeffrey picked up dirt said, Just like that - match this dirt. And the colour of the shingles Match this dirt. and the green matches the leaves. matches the bark of the tree on the outside Some interesting design elements interesting above the window. and I'm seeing something pretty They have a very talented son. Well, this is a musical family. to respect that And I designed the brackets musical affiliation. 'The exterior has a great look, but the surprise lies inside.'

This is cellulose insulation.

It's just recycled New York Times. Recycled newspaper? Like, I can actually grab this? a very simple recycled product You can grab it. This is and it has a very high R value. they blow it in with water, When they blow it in, so that way, they can densely pack it in there. Two showers, two sinks, no toilet. Something's missing, right? That's our water closet, right. It's a separate room, and that's also an Arts And Crafts style, to have a separate room for the bathroom. And the toilets are energy efficient, low-volume. Those are low-flow shower heads. We have those throughout the house. Here we are, in our master and mistress bedroom. It's plural? Well, I wanted to be egalitarian. (ALL LAUGH) This is an eco-friendly bed. It's solid cherry and it's made out of farm-raised wood. Is there an eco-friendly element to the massive skylight over your eco-friendly bed? We can let in sunlight in the winter and it makes it nice and warm here, so we get passive solar. The window opens, so we can let air in and that helps with air circulation. 'And cutting off light is as simple as pressing a button.' Come on into the basement. The basement. I can just tell by all the funky materials down here we've got a lot of eco-friendly pieces of wood. We went all out with eco products in this basement. Tell me about the floor first. That's bamboo. Bamboo is a very eco-friendly wood. It has a four-year growth cycle. Cut it down, it comes right back. It's really a grass. This material here, what is this? It feels like a cork of some sort. That's called BioBoard. That is the stem and stalk of the sunflower plant, which is normally an agricultural waste product.

It's normally burned or put into a landfill. This is really your mechanical system area? I mean, you've got painted concrete walls, you've got a nice red wall there, all enclosed. I'm just amazed. You peek in here, you've painted your floors black - it's like a work of art inside, never mind outside. You spent a lot of time and effort for that. We did. When I look through this window, what am I seeing? That's our geothermal heat pump. That's what gives us heat and cool.

There's an underground array of tubes that are just carrying water and the water gets heated to the temperature of the earth, which is about 55 degrees. Once the water comes into this unit right here, it gets transformed into a gas and compressed so it gets hot enough to heat our house. There's no emissions for you. That's correct. The geothermal system has no chimney because it's not burning anything, so it is a zero carbon output. 'This family has managed to preserve and retain the best of the old without sacrificing what's new in eco technologies.

Seattle, Washington, is the largest city on America's Pacific Northwest. Birthplace of grunge music and a coffee drinker's paradise, this city is buzzing with eco-revitalised architecture. 'What's not to love about Seattle? A mild climate, the ocean just a stone's throw away and lush trees everywhere. It's no wonder it's called the Emerald City - at least when it's not raining. Our focus is downtown's 1910 historic Cobb building. Converted in 2006 from medical offices,

it now features eco-friendly apartments. And none is more stunning than the 1,200 square foot, one-bedroom, two-bath, very cool penthouse.' The space reflects our personality. This space reflects what we like. 'Green real estate developer Greg Smith and his wife Monica knew exactly what they wanted.' We thought about each piece - the furniture,

the art, what is green, what is sustainable.

Making sure it met our lifestyle needs, as well as being environmentally responsible. Come on in. 'This apartment has a very comfortable feel. It should, because the furniture is made from 100% cotton.' The vintage Womb Chair we had reupholstered with 100% recycled polyester. So who knows? Maybe it came from one of our fleece jackets. Our architect, she suggested going out to antique stores and vintage furniture shops and finding a mix of chairs, all different sizes, all different shapes. When we have guests over, different guests kind of gravitate to different chairs and so we always are wondering who's going to which one. 'Clearly, hauling firewood to the penthouse gets old quickly.

So what do you do?' We wanted to create the ambience of a fireplace, so we designed this really cool space with these logs in it and we'll put candles in there and get kind of the glimmering light of it, but we don't have the gas fireplace.

'And in their kitchen, a surprise.' Everyone walks in here and they immediately assume it's a skylight, but it's just fluorescent lighting and it looks like a skylight. Our architect showed us this bright blue paint and recommended painting it and we were like, "I don't think so." But we went with their recommendation and we're so happy we did. It really gets people tricked out when they come in at nine o'clock at night and it's dark outside, yet there's this beautiful blue skylight. These cabinets are made from an oak tree that was pulled out of a bog and the wood was stained from the minerals from the bog

to create this colour. 'Speaking of unique colour combos, the backsplash is made from recycled vodka, beer and wine bottles.' We like that splash of colour in the kitchen. 'Cheers!' We designed the hallway to run around the perimeter to bring as much natural light as we can. 'That's great, but could pose a problem - with so much glass, the original windows have been reinsulated.' We used bamboo floors almost throughout the whole apartment, which is a rapidly renewable resource. We did it in a herringbone pattern and then used the baseboards as more a traditional baseboard, so it's playing off of each other. 'And another nice touch is the Art Deco powder room's mosaic wall. It's made from 100% recycled glass. And their commute to work ends at the end of the hall.'

And it's appropriate that it's our office, because this used to be a dental office. The terrazzo floor is the original floor and there are, you know, little nicks and some damaged marks throughout, but we've patched them pretty well. Why don't you talk about the door? This red door just always spoke to me. 'Spoke? Well, that's a first.' I just loved its rounded top. This door is a favourite feature in the whole place. So I was like, "That door has to be used somewhere." So it's perfect. Welcome to the master suite. My favourite part is the bed, which Monica can explain. Besides it being really comfortable, it's all latex with a wool topper. So no toxic fire retardants. We just started using bamboo sheets, which are also really comfortable.

This is our little urban sanctuary.

We really wanted to think of this space

as more than just a bathroom, but a place that we could get away from the fast pace of the urban environment. And we continued some of the themes - salvaged wood and the recycled glass tiles. The floors are natural stone. 'And the shower?' The tilework in there is recycled wine bottles.

Chardonnay. I think they're chardonnay bottles. Got wine cork floors and we also have music in there, so you can just go in and turn on the music and steam and get away from it all. It's not the most water-efficient bathroom, but it was one of those conscious decisions

that we made that we just love taking a bath every once in a while and we love taking steam showers and so we made that choice. When we chose this apartment, this deck was the clincher. We have this great garden outside.

It creates a natural barrier between us and the world out there. 'The deck is made from Epay. Durable and naturally resistant to rot, mold, termites and weather, Epay is perfect.' We can see the Olympic Mountains, we can see Elliott Bay and the ferries coming back and forth. And at night, it's really spectacular with all the lights on. I think the green movement and the emphasis on energy efficiency, it's touching everything. It's a new design, it's new architecture, it's new planning, it's this incredible platform for us to really push for change in all areas. It's a really exciting time. Toronto the Good, renowned for its clean streets, low crime rate and high standard of living, has consistently made the list of one of the world's most livable cities. 'Helping Toronto make that list is its exciting cultural art and renaissance. So it just seems natural that green construction here is on the rise.

We found this three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home, just 20 minutes from a revitalised downtown.' A short drive from the bustling city centre, in a quiet neighbourhood called Scarborough, a crumbling foundation led to a mini green revolution. 'Talk about a fixer-upper.' Would you like a drink of water? 'This is computer consultant Andrew Pease

and his wife Donna and their five-year-old son. When they figured out their home was falling apart, they knew what they had to do.' It's going to be less extraordinary and more common to build green, because it makes more sense. How are you doing, Andrew? Hi! Come in. Donna, how are you?

I guess you knew it was me. There's no hiding who's coming to your front door here. The big window gives it away. Come on in. Does this room have a name?

It's the front room or it's the winter room. You've got the fireplace up here. It's a really cosy room. And then the back room's the summer room. 'This light is beautiful and is created by a great American designer, George Nelson. Another strong element in this room is your big front window with a southern exposure.

Yep. It actually brings in a lot of heat in the winter. Structure is obviously a key to any good building.

We can see the little posts here. You've got the steel beams. A lot of people would try to hide that. You can't put a really big window into a size of a house like we have without having structural supports. After paying all the money for the steel, I didn't want to hide it and we ended up painting it out and I think it looks great. It adds to the modern feel of the house. So many surfaces to choose for flooring, yet you ended up with concrete. We've got all in-floor heating right now. Concrete's the best conduit for heat. Radiant floor heating is very efficient It actually makes the room feel warmer, more comfortable, instead of forced air, which is pushing air around. You can notice the flooring surface - concrete expands and contracts and you can see the cracking. There's a couple of cracks. Not crumbling. This is my favourite room. Favourite room? Favourite room in the whole house? Oh, yes. It's an awesome kitchen. It's huge and it's fantastic. It does a great party. the heart of the house. It's literally giving us natural light, We have the skylights we still have natural light. so even in the dingiest day, some of the other features. Let's talk about horizontal grain on your cabinetry. You went with a nice It's a different look. This is quartersawn cherry. We think it's really interesting a different look. and it gives the kitchen

a manmade crushed quartz. Countertop, you went with durable materials you can get. It's one of the hardest and most Also, I love the look. What can you tell me about them? What about the appliances? The dishwasher is energy efficient.

It's also very quiet, which I love. we weren't sure if it was running. The first time we ran it, it's got a light, so we can tell. It's that quiet. Luckily, are really efficient. All the other appliances as energy efficient as possible. I tried to go for Explain to me about the meter. Is this monitoring the entire house?

exactly how much power we're using We get to see at any given time. run around turning off lights When we put it in, we would pulling all the power. to find out what was of how much energy you use. It makes you conscious

'This is unusual - the same but different. two living rooms, This one's in the back.' it's airier. This room is much brighter, It's really relaxing. It's lovely and cool. summer living and dining area. It's our sort of multi-purpose And Kidville, too. (ALL LAUGH) structural elements in this space. You've exposed a lot of big You've got the big beams exposed.' There were a couple of options We needed a big structural beam. in Ontario. and this was one that was made We saw it, loved the look of it and we had to have it exposed. painting that!" It was so neat. It came in and I'm like, "We're not turned into a great design element. It's just too cool and it's We call it the bridge, it just goes straight across. just because We've had neighbours with younger kids who are like, "Cool, you've got a bridge!" on natural light in this area. So you spared no expense Yeah, I love this.

these skylights are positioned? Is there a key to the way that's hitting it gets reflected. The vast majority of sunlight without the heat in summer. It's positioned to get the light

for your ventilation system A key feature

in the right corner. is the window that you put at the top of the house in summer, We've got all the heat building up so just opening that a crack, all that hot air gets out and without using an air conditioner. helps us keep this place cool the need for privacy. 'We all understand so special.' That's what makes their bedroom in the world, It's not the biggest bedroom but it's a really cosy spot. It's a place we can retreat to. 'These guys know comfort. 100% organic cotton sheets Their bed has and a modern fan cools the room.' from the bedroom to the bathroom. So it's not a far walk No, it's really not. Tell me about what went into the design. I call it tiny and perfect. It's small. a luxurious space that was our own. We really wanted to have It's our little mini spa-like area. (ALL LAUGH) Definitely a parent-only zone. 'Even though their bathroom is small, it's huge in energy efficiency, and a low-flow shower head. with a dual-flush toilet that really catches your eye.' But it's the outside You've got a lot going out here.

of materials you decided to use. Tell me about the blends Our builder, at one point, joked that we were an exterior sampler. from this stone veneer We've got everything to wood siding to stucco. it was a big, long box. We didn't want it to look like is to break it up a bit One of the ways to do that and have different treatments. What about your lawn? and most people have grass. You look down the street You've got woodchips, stone. here in the front. We get so much sun This is a southern exposure. interesting vegetation We wanted to have it as much the scorching heat up here and vegetation that can handle and low-maintenance, really. as much as possible You talk about southern exposure. and I see you've designed a way You've got two massive windows to shade that, as well. Integral to the design of the front were some sun shades. that in the heat of the summer, They're light enough we don't get any direct sunshine,

they're short enough but in the winter,

helping us heat the house. that we get full sunlight in, This building stands out, especially on this street. and take a peek. Everyone must stop and gaze a real surprise for us It's been, actually, that it's been so well-received. a giant pink house. It's not like we made 'Right, but it does make a statement and though there's no denying it's fun to look at, that's ecologically conscious.' they've created a sophisticated home we were already committed When we had the old house, to trying to improve its efficiency. As you start walking down that road, a lot of things you can do you realise there are that have a really big effect. A thousand and one tiny decisions all started with one big decision - to demolish a crumbling house

and design a new home now built on a solid green foundation. When we think of New York, uber chic Manhattan springs to mind. But if you're like thousands of nature lovers, you'll think of the vast forests and the unique towns and villages of New York State. most scenic spots is New Paltz, 'And one of the state's north of the Big Apple. just a quick hour-and-a-half drive This home is in a class by itself. in the middle of nowhere, It seems to have landed surrounded by 28 acres. and in many ways, it has - which shouldn't come as a surprise.' It's called a dome house, comes around They say what goes around unusual home away from home and that's especially true in this constructed deep in these woods. makes smart cars for a living, Shiva Vencat distinct home for his wife Veronique so it's no wonder he wanted a and son, Rohan. it would look like this?' But who would have guessed was the shape. The main thing that appealed to me which is environmentally clean. And I loved the idea of a home Wow.

do people react when they see this? I don't even know how to react. How "Wow" is pretty much what comes out.

I think people don't expect this to be hidden in the woods. Hidden in the woods? I don't think people expect this anywhere. What was the thinking that went into the layout of the space? There is something that exists in nature that is a source of inspiration. This nautilus shell, as you see, this notion of swirl, this is what we've tried to replicate here. 'That scroll inspired this staircase made from spruce.

That means it not only looks great, but it's strong and flexible.' The natural light pouring in is very evident. Tell me about the process and the design of choosing these windows. We wanted to have a glass base to follow the structure, the shape of it, and allow as much light as possible to come in. The whole concept of this house is using passive solar energy. 'The sun plays a huge role in the design. All the windows are double-paned and have a special glazing for great insulation.'

It could be zero degrees outside. If the sun is hitting the house, the heater doesn't kick in. The sun is enough to heat the house. This is my favourite spot. Right here? Right here. You're the chef? I am the chef, yeah. 'This great workspace is made from stainless steel, but a lot of thought went into its textured limestone countertop.' The idea behind the selection of the material is that, you know, on an aesthetic plain, it doesn't supersede anything. It almost disappears. Tell me about the appliances in there. Are there any eco-friendly benefits to what you're cooking on? Most of the equipment that you have here, we chose the most efficient one, the one that has the most stars and energy efficiency, whether it's the dishwasher or the fridge. This is really the best on the market for what we wanted to achieve. I mean, it's very efficient and good for the environment. You chose a wide-plank bamboo for the flooring surface and you've taken consideration that it's an eco-friendly product and you like the way it feels and flows. It's always a combination between how it feels and how you live with it. I think it's a very eco-friendly decision,

but, also, it's a very soft material. The choice of the colour was to just be as plain as possible and not to take any strong point of view in terms of design. The curvature of the countertop and your table here, was there any thought of ever having something, you know, linear or straight plane? When you're talking about designing a round space, you don't want things to be round for the sake of being round. It is as organic as possible.

'But only half the main floor is open for all the world to see. Hidden behind the kitchen are the more intimate spaces, which, of course, includes the master bedroom.' Everything is custom-made so that you take advantage of the space. And it has to be that way, because it's a dome. There's nothing square about this space. You can't buy stuff to put in there.

Shiva, everything is curved in here, including your bookcase. Yeah. This bookcase we had in New York and we loved it. So master bath this way? Yes. Careful. Watch the step. Yeah, the step. Step, and it's got a bit of a slope. The shower is designed in such a way that the water just flows down and goes through the drain. And we didn't want to close it or to have some form of border with it, so that's why we needed that little slope. We're out in the middle of the woods, nowhere near the city. Where are you getting your water from? How is it getting to your house? In the country, most houses have well water because it's too far for the town to provide the water. So water comes from the well and it goes through a series of filters and then it's heated and then it comes up here.

The dome is about adapting to the season. It's an amazing experience. You feel safe, you recharge. It's an amazing place and totally different place to be. So, finally, we're outside. This is where you really get the perspective of what the dome space is all about. It's a different perspective and it's interesting when you see it from outside, because it doesn't give you the sense of volume that you have inside. I mean, from here, you might not even know there's a second floor. You chose a cedar shake for the roof. Cedar is self-maintaining. It has an oil that prevents it from rotting, prevents it from getting bugs and it's a perfect type of roofing. This feels like the spaceship has just landed. I mean, this is where you really get the sense of it. The footprint you're required to build, a dome is fairly small compared to the actual size of the dome. In this case, you literally are using a very small part of the land without disturbing too much what's going on around you. 'And speaking about what's going on around you, this 40-ton home spins while following the sun. No, really. But why?' In summer, you don't want the windows to face the sun and in winter, you want it to face the sun to heat the house. So all the good stuff's in here? Yes. Including the button or, like, whatever we do to turn this thing? The electronics and everything. Man, it really is everything. You've got wires everywhere. This is the gas, this is the sewerage, this is the... I think it's the electrical. You can't tell what's what, Shiva. How do you know? This is the gas. This is the central vacuum cleaner. Wow! That's even down here. That's - yeah, that's even down here. I feel like I'm Medusa down here. Snakes are all over my head. 'OK, that's clear as mud. But how do you move the house?' This is the control box.

'Ah, that looks complicated.'

When you move the house, I usually do it here and my wife just checks things out while I'm moving it. So you'll, since Veronique's not here... So I get to play the role of your wife. I'll do my best. We'll use our phones and then I'll come back and start moving it. OK. And there's no way I can screw this up? What am I doing? Ready? Whoa, hold on. I'm ready now. OK, here we go. Oh! Shiva, we're moving! Do you see it turning? I do. Wow, this is wild. This is like a slow merry-go-round. It doesn't move so fast. I thought it would move a lot faster. No, but this is the speed it goes. It's very slow because you're moving a house, so you can't really go too fast. The energy used to run this thing is the equivalent of a hair dryer. It's a very low-gear engine, so it doesn't require a lot of power. Would we say one second and I'd say let's put the brakes on. Right there. Stop her up, Shiva. Beautiful. That's perfect.

Now you're going to be able to say to people, "I came into one place and I went out the other place." And it was the front door, still the front door. Still the front door and I haven't changed houses. Everything is unusual about this house. The shape, the way you live in it, the sense of serenity you have in this house, which is unique, which you don't find in other houses. And unless you cross that door and you come in, you don't fully grasp what the dome space is about. It's about a different way of living. It's not every day you get to see such a unique home inspired by nature that's right in the heart of nature, with the lofty goal of preserving nature. Next, we got to Chile.

The unique location and diverse landscape has almost completely separated this South American country from its neighbours. This distinctiveness has helped create a proud, independent culture and character. 'Just an hour and a half west of Santiago

is the spectacular region of Tunquen, right on the ocean. This home was completely redesigned in 2008, it took on this very unique shape. Elena and her husband Danio - that's them - have lived on this land for 20 years and it was definitely time for a change.'

We decided to enlarge the house because we have four grandchildren and three children. 'And who better to redesign a family home than a member of the family - their son Jose and his wife, Delphine.' It's challenging to renew a house you know very much, you've lived for more than 15 years. Big change in the house. It was a really big change of the house and we just loved the change. Hello, welcome to Tunquen, Chile, to Metamorphosis House. Come on in.

'You almost need sunglasses with all the light coming in downstairs. And the kitchen's granite countertop stands out against all the wood.' We like it very much because we use it from both sides. We can fix food here and it's very nice to be here. We're working and cooking. All the lighting here is low-wattage, six watts. They are easily powered by our solar panels. 'The smart design of high ceilings helps cool the home, even on the hottest day. And how does it work?' This window with the other provides cross ventilation. There was one small window on this point. We made it a lot bigger so you can see nature coming into this place. It's a boldo. It's a boldo tree. You can then make tea and good things for the stomach. Boldo. This is the master bedroom. It's not really big, it's really small. But we wanted it this way, because we just use it to sleep and we like the views from the windows. It's really peaceful. It bigger windows are all closed and the smaller windows are made for cross ventilation for cooling. 'The master bath is ecologically friendly. Dual-flush toilets and showers instead of tubs help minimise water usage. The outside of the home has two layers. The inner one is structural

and the outer protects the home from the ugly weather.' The house is very exposed to the sea wind and the constant humidity. Also, rain is very strong here. The ventilated facade is good for keeping this humidity out of the house.

All the wood is five minutes' walking from the house. Walking. Not even taking a car. For us, it was a really good challenge to work with local workers and local materials. 'This home has huge decks that seem to go on forever. One on each level.' Here we are under the cantilevered bedroom that provides this shade in summer

and protects us from rain in the winter. From here, you can see the photovoltaic cells that provides us with all the energy we need for the house that goes to the storage in the batteries. This is the highest part of the house. It's one of our favourite spots. 'And no wonder.' In the morning, we can feel the mist coming from the sea,

we come here during the day to see the waves.

You can see the water tower from here and you see a little stick in the top of the water tower? When it's up, there is enough water. 'And when it's not up, they use a solar-powered generator to pump the water up from the valley. Their hard work has them completely off the grid.'

We have the solar panels, because there's no electricity. And the water comes from the valley to the elevated tank. It's possible to have really high standards without need of public electricity or services. Sitting on the north-west shores of Lake Ontario Toronto is a booming world-class city and the financial, cultural and entertainment capital of Canada. 'This city is probably most famous for how clean its environment is.' In one of Toronto's oldest neighbourhoods, known as the Beach, a deceptively traditional home challenges the idea of what it means to go green. 'You wouldn't know it by looking, but this is a prefab home built in 2003. While it looks like it's a comfortable country home, that's just the beginning for Mike Brigham and his wife Belle.' We didn't want the house to scream environmental technology. We simply wanted it to be comfortable and informal, with a bit of a European flavour to it. I was looking for the house with the solar panels. Do I have it? You do, but they're well-hidden. It looks like this house has been here 50, 60 years. You're gonna tell me this is a prefab home? Thank you. I'm glad to hear you say that. That was part of our intent in designing it. We looked at what made a house look new versus old. We actually have fooled a lot of people. What about the reaction of this area? This is the Beach. It's tight little streets everywhere. One of the things neighbours did appreciate about a prefab home is that the build time is a fraction of what it normally would be.

After putting in the foundations, the structure of the house went up in six hours. It was delivered in six large truckloads. If I call this the living room, am I correct? It's actually a multi-purpose room. For us, it's a living room, it's a media room, it's a family room.

We wanted to keep the square footage of the house down. The bigger a house is, the more energy you have to expand to heat it. 'The large south-facing windows bring in passive solar heat.

That keeps the home warm in winter and cool in summer.' This house is designed to consume 65% less energy than the exact same size and shape of house just built to code. 'Great. And to help keep those costs down is this eco-friendly natural gas fireplace.' What a lot of people don't know is that wood smoke is incredibly polluting. It's a renewable source, but it is not a clean energy source. 'It's smart saving money on energy and just as smart to use the right materials in the home - and in this case, the kitchen.' We specifically stayed away from particle board or other materials that would off-gas formaldehyde. We used finishes, stains and lacquer that were also zero off-gassing, all in an attempt to go for the best indoor air quality. All the appliances are energy efficient? Yes, they're all ENERGY STAR-rated. The one appliance we put the most care in selection into is the refrigerator, because refrigerators are typically one of the largest single components of the house that use electricity. 'This prefab home saves about 65% more energy than their neighbours. But how?' We have 30 solar electric panels, commonly called PV. We also have two panels that simply collect heat and we use it to heat our hot water. We generate 15% more than we consume. 'The grass is obviously green. But is there an eco-friendliness to this grass?' This is a blend of a number of different types of grasses. What's unique about this grass is that unlike regular grass, the stems are very, very thin. Once this grows up to a height of about two or three inches, the weight of the grass causes it to fall over sideways on itself. You never have to cut it, then, if it's growing over. If you're happy with the look, that's true. It's very green and it is very low maintenance. 'The home has a great system to deal with rainwater.

The gutters direct the water to a gravel-filled pit

underneath the backyard, where it's absorbed more naturally back into the environment.' It's right about under where that small garden is and it would be about 2ft underground. Give me the lay of the land of the second floor. Guest room? That is my wife's room. We sleep separately. That's not a guest room. No, no, no. We have always preferred to sleep separately. That's not to say I don't get visiting privileges. I can assure you I do. 'So then why the separate bedrooms?' Belle likes not to be awakened by the sun. She likes to wake up very gradually. So she should be on the shady side of the house in the morning. I'm just the opposite. I'm a morning person. I like having the sun hit me in the eyes. So it was preordained that I was going to be on the east side. I can see the lake in about four or five places. What about designing the bathroom? This is your space. You had total control in here. What was that like? It was great, because I got exactly what I wanted. I put in a large sunlight so I've got a ton of natural light. I've got a large floor-to-ceiling glass shower enclosure, where you can actually towel off and not touch anything. And the American South-West is very close to my heart, so I went with the stones that were sort of all the desert colours and stuff and I'm very happy with how it came out. 'Of course, you'd expect the showers wouldn't drain their budget, but their design is pretty cool.' I realised that a lot of hot water goes down the drain when you're having a shower. So the drains from our showers on this floor, the warm water is going down the drain, it flows down the centre of a copper pipe and the heat from that is transferred into cold incoming water so that your hot water tank,

instead of getting freezing cold water, it's getting water that's about room temperature. Belle and Mike have worked hard to preserve the comforts an old-fashioned home that could have just consumed energy. But they've embraced the future by building a home that produces energy. Closed Captions by CSI - Cassie Britland