Although I live in the middle of nowhere, in the woods of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, my house is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the cosmopolitan city of Montreal, Quebec. A few weeks ago I made the drive north to meet a few green builders from Quebec and to attend a green building conference called Ecohabitation 2014.
Montreal is a fun city where it’s easy to buy a decent baguette. The city also offers the chance to sample delicious food prepared by Quebecois born in Lebanon, Tunisia, Mexico, India, and many other countries.
I was invited to Montreal by Quebec’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency and Innovation, along with André Fauteux, the editor of a green building magazine called La Maison du 21è siècle. Shortly after I arrived, Fauteux graciously treated me to a meal at a Thai restaurant on Chemin de la CÃ´te-des-Neiges. Our conversation ranged widely. Since we’re both editors, we have a lot in common — except for the fact that Fauteux believes that electromagnetic frequencies emitted by smart meters can injure human health. (I’m awaiting more data on that topic.)
A Passivhaus that is close to net zero
That evening, I heard a presentation by Louis-Philippe Thibault, one of the architects of Quebec’s Novoclimat program. Novoclimat is a Quebec-based program based in part on Canada’s R-2000 program. Like the Energy Star Homes program in the U.S., Novoclimat encourages builders to implement above-code approaches to energy efficiency.
In the 15 years since the program was established in 1999, Novoclimat has certified over 21,000 new Quebec homes.
One of the builders I spoke to before Thibault’s presentation was Alain Hamel, owner of A et A Construction in Saguenay, Quebec. Hamel pays attention to building science developments, monitors green building websites in two languages, and is…