Photos and Video by Max Riché
Benoit Lavigueur – Builder of Eco-House Dreams
How a carpenter from Canada brought his energy consumption at par with that of an African family, in the Québec winter.
“As far as I can remember, climate has always played a very important role in my life. On the farm we would adapt our tasks, our work, actually our entire lives to the climate,” Benoit Lavigueur says, who grew up as a farmer’s child in a small village in Québec. Today, Lavigueur is 30 years old and the proud builder and owner of an ecological house in Sainte Martine, Canada.
Passionate about the environment and trained as a carpenter, Benoit “married his two passions,” as he says, by specializing in ecological construction.
Initially, Benoit read as much literature as he could find on the subject, followed by vocational training and attending conferences to meet like-minded experts. “I have an inexhaustible thirst for learning, so I gather a lot of information,” Benoit explains. Building a house, however, had not always been his plan. In his early twenties, he was involved with outreach organizations to raise awareness about the importance of ecological construction and also organized conferences on the subject throughout Quebec. Eventually he realized though that people’s main request was to see it put into practice. “Theory is fine, but what does an ecological house look like?” He says.
After a few years of encountering the same sentiment at events around the world, he decided to take the plunge and set out to build one of the most ecologically-friendly houses of Canada.
In 2007, Benoit completed the construction of his home and moved into it with his wife and child. Thanks to conservation and efficiency mechanisms installed throughout the house, Benoit and his family have been able to reduce their water consumption by 90% (bringing it to par with a typical household in Africa), and, with better material, their heating demand by 75%, making the house highly energy-saving. Consequently, the home has been certified with the Platinum level, the highest possible LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, an international mark of excellence for green building used in over 132 countries.
“It was always meant to be a model home; one that people would visit,” Benoit replied when asked about the many visitors and international media coverage he has consequently received. His main goal with the house is to inspire people. He therefore constructed it such that many details are in plain sight, hoping to prove that state-of-the-art energy-efficient building is not only feasible and affordable for the ordinary man, but also beautiful.
After successfully completing the construction of his own house, he founded “Belvedair,” a company that specializes in the design and construction of ecological houses. With a mission to democratize ecological construction, Belvedair counts by now 14 employees who work from two offices, both located in the province of Québec.
When asked about the early days of Belvedair, Benoit recounts: “Oddly, at the beginning I never had the intention of doing business. When we started, I was actually more involved in raising public awareness, but I did not have any company to refer people to. Then I started looking for a job in ecological construction. Given that I couldn’t find anyone offering such a job either, I told myself that we had to create a company to provide the service and the jobs.” Since Belvedair’s inception, the team has built over 50 new ecologically-friendly homes, establishing themselves as the leading energy-efficient building company in Québec.
“Since I am the fifth generation to live on our family’s land, I want there to be a sixth, seventh and an eight generation, too.” Benoit explains about his home. Though not many are lucky enough to inherit family land, now, with Lavigueur’s team of builders, Quebeckers can start growing roots to be proud of.
Did you know that buildings worldwide represent 32% of total final energy consumption? Hence, buildings are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and building green is viewed as a means to reduce emissions and minimize the dependence on fossil fuels. Don’t own your home or have the money to build a cutting-edge green home? Here are some tips to get started on saving energy in your home.
Benoit Lavigueur is a 29-year-old Canadian carpenter who, over the course of six years, built the house of his dreams. The house, constructed from recyclable and local building materials, is allows Benoit and his family to reduce by 90% his water consumption (bringing it to par with an African household), and 75% his heating demand, making the house highly energy-saving: it boasts a platinum LEED certification, making it the most ecologically-friendly house in all of Québec. “I built this house to prove to people that anybody can do it.” Lavigueur has since founded Belvedair, a successful construction business for eco-houses.