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City infill project aims to prove a sustainability point

'We can't keep building massive homes for single family use. We need to look at space and start to build the relationship between space and how much space people need to be healthy and happy'

A group of like-minded green Guelphites have built a city home to emphasize that you can be ecologically responsible and provide needed housing.

Located at 9 King Edward Place, a former cottage-style house has been demolished and rebuilt into a sustainable infill house with more than 2,000 square-feet, including three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen/living space and an additional loft space that connects to a shared courtyard.

The house was designed and built by a local company called Strategic, Healthy, Ecological Design Ltd. (s.h.e.d.).

Gavin Baxter, a project partner, planning and design manager at s.h.e.d., said they designed the home to be flexible and accessible for dignified aging in place, including options for live-in caregiver and multi-generational living.

"We can't keep building massive homes for single family use. We need to look at space and start to build the relationship between space and how much space people need to be healthy and happy," said Baxter. 

Living nearby for 15 years, Baxter said he bought the property with other neighbours and project partners, Doug Minett, Linda Hawkins and Kristen Stansell. 

“Us, along with our neighbours, decided we wanted to do a unique, thoughtful project along the laneway, because we think that infill housing can be a good solution to help solve some of the housing issues that are based within our community,” said Baxter.

Besides being designed for multiple people to live in, the house has been made with carbon sequestered and carbon neutral materials, like wood and ecopact concrete. Instead of a gas heat, it has an in-floor radiant heating and cooling system. 

"People are willing to invest in these homes, because they’re going to stay in these homes," said Baxter, "as the market increases in cost, less people move around so they’re willing to invest in higher quality materials that are sustainably made.”

Minett describes the house as the 'example of a perfect infill.'

"This is a single one, but to me, this is the poster child for a perfect infill," said Minett. 

Baxter said the house will soon be going up for sale. He adds it has been an exciting opportunity for s.h.e.d. to build a home like this. 

“We do a lot of renovations, additions and restoration work in town, and we do occasional new builds when we’ve have a chance, but to be able to do new builds in town for an infill situation, this is where we have the chance to get the density, and also, that’s what our city needs right now," said Baxter.

While this type of high-performance building will take time to catch on, Baxter does think more homes like 9 King Edward Place could appear in Guelph in the future.

“My gut tells me that we need to get some of these prototypes out, and let people see them, and let them start working, and move families into them, and let people start to appreciate them," said Baxter, "and the more we are able to do that, the more we're able to share the experience of what it is live in a healthier, more energy efficient, more ecologically responsible home." 

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Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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