Benoit Lavigueur: builder of eco-house dreams
Text by Sunnie J. Groeneveld
Videography and photography by Max Riché
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.
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.