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LEEDing the way in building green

Local timber home province's second to be certified for high standards

Two weeks from now, Kelvin Mooney will move into a house that would make David Suzuki swell with pride.

Mooney's timber home in Garibaldi Highlands is a recyclable, sustainable, eco-friendly home. And soon, he will have the papers to prove it. His house will be Squamish's first and B.C.'s second LEED-certified home.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally accepted benchmark to create sustainable buildings, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Buildings are judged on a plethora of fronts, such asenergy conserved, water saved and reused, recyclable materials used, proximity to public transport and innovation in design.

"Living in a LEED home means having a healthy approach to your life and community and he's [Mooney] showninitiative and leadership in trying to do that," said Ron Lemaire, the vice-president of Canada Green Building Council, a non profit organization that certifies LEED buildings in Canada.

Mooney, the co-owner of British Columbia Timberframe Company, said after he read about the certification, he knew he wanted to take a lead with it.

"It was about being environmentally responsible and being a leader in something I believe in," Mooney said.

It's also about putting Mother Earth before money. Mooney said his new home would cost him $20,000 more than a conventional home, although, he would recover the cost in a few years by saving on hydro bills.

"The supply side hasn't really come up to the demands of the LEED home. You have to have enhanced insulation, low voltage lighting and recyclable material and it all adds up," he said. "You really have to buy into the idea that you are doing something that is good for the environment."

Mooney bought into that idea in 2000 when he, along with Allen Jones, started the British Columbia Timberframe Company in Squamish. Before that, he worked for an American company, but after he realized the "wood was coming from 50 miles of Squamish," he decided to start his own company.

As they come close to a decade of supplying timber and designing timber homes, the duo said their belief in timber homes is as strong as B.C. wood.

"They are way more energy efficient because their insulation wraps the house like a blanket and they will last you much longer than the traditional home," Jones said. "Plus, they look really good."

Jones said they now get a lot of customers who want to live in an efficient, healthy home that doesn't have foam or chemicals in it. This wasn't always the case.

In fact, one of the biggest problems they faced was educating people about the ecological benefits of building a timber home. Jones said timber homes usually cost 15 per cent more to build, and people were reluctant to spend the money.

However, that has changed in the past few years as more and more Canadians realize the importance of creating sustainable lifestyles that protect the environment. For Mooney, building a timber and a LEED home was about setting an example that he hopes more and more people will emulate.

"As a responsible citizen, I'm going to encourage my customers and the people I know to look into the LEED certificate and try to get it for their homes," he said.

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