Sooke Ecohome Tour

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Welcome back for our third annual tour. Revisit last year’s two work-in-progress East Sooke homes (one now complete) and a rammed-earth project in the wilds of Otter Point that we showcased in 2016. Drop into a perennial farmhouse favourite on Kemp Lake Road. Visit with Sooke homeowners drawing energy from the sun. And explore the bones of an evolving tiny house in Metchosin.

Nice-priced tickets ($5 per person/$10 per carload/free for pedestrians and cyclists) will again be available *only* on event day at the Stick in the Mud Coffeehouse in downtown Sooke and at each of our participating venues.

This self-guided tour can be done in any order over a circle route. Drop-ins welcome anytime during tour hours. Keep your ticket handy and be prepared to show it if asked. Please leave your pets at home or in your well-ventilated vehicle.

Our 2018 stops … 

East Sooke

* 5200 East Sooke Road. Welcome back to The Harmless Home, a spectacular Net Zero family residence with panoramic JDF views built by Sooke’s Ridgeco Developments. Now complete, its exterior walls are the first on the west coast to utilize interlocking Just BioFiber blocks, which deliver R40 insulation from a durable mix of lime and hemp fiber. The home features 16kW of solar panels, Tesla Powerwall back-up batteries, a level-2 septic system and rainwater collection. Host: Arno Keinonen. Please park with extreme care on the verge of East Sooke Rd. Shuttle rides available from the foot of the driveway.  

* 310 Becher Bay Road. Just around the corner is our other East Sooke returnee, the sustainable and healthy Rainbird Econest. It’s many steps closer to completion after a productive summer. Timber and much of the lumber was milled onsite on family land. Clay was sourced from Sooke, straw from Saanich.  The EcoNest Peregrine design features a timber frame interior and exterior walls of light straw-clay. To be powered by solar, the home incorporates a Faswall (recycled pallet-based) foundation, passive solar design, a masonry heater, heat exchange water heater, earthen floors, rain water collection and grey water irrigation. Host: Shyanne Smith and family. Rough driveway to the building site (passable with care). Or park-and-walk 400m up a steep track.

Sooke

* 2494 Westview Terrace. This year’s solar-powered home is in Sooke’s Sunriver Estates. It features 24 solar panels with electrical wiring that connects to a BC Hydro smart meter. The system is rated at 6.36 kWh. Also on site is a Flo Home electric vehicle charging station. The homeowners strive to follow a green lifestyle and work to achieve zero waste. Hosts: Carol and David Mallett. Guests: Brian McNeill from Sun-Mar composting toilets; and Steve Unger from Viridian Energy Co-Operative. Access via Sunriver Way, right onto Riverstone, left onto Westview Terrace.  

Metchosin

* The latest in-progress micro home built by Sooke-based Forest Adam. His work features hand-tooled wood frame construction with almost entirely wood finishings. He’s known for building comfortable, super-affordable tiny homes without drywall or paint for health, environmental and aesthetic reasons. At the homeowner’s request, you’ll need to buy a ticket on Oct. 6 to learn the address. 

Otter Point

* 2358 Kemp Lake Road. Back by popular demand for a third year, this modern farmhouse built by KC Natural Homes features heavy fir timber framing, 12” light clay exterior walls, and equally thick rammed earth clay/sand/cement thermal mass interior walls. The radiant in-floor hot water system is fueled by roof-mounted solar vacuum tubes. Hosts: Martin Bissig. Talks by builder Keary Conwright at Noon and 2 p.m.  Bonus: Enjoy a cup of Herbal Station Tea, grown, solar-dried and packaged on site.

* 3022 Michaelson Road. “The Cabin in the Woods,” showcased on our 2016 tour, is a long-term labour of art, skill and love for builder Tony Johnson. His talents have taken him to Denman Island, Edmonton and as far afield as Taranaki, New Zealand in recent years, yet work on his dream family home continues. The rammed-earth walls are now complete and the focus has turned to beam and wood column construction. Tony is documenting the project from inception to completion at his Earth House Holdings blog. Host: Tony Johnson. Access via Otter Point Rd. to Robinson, then Tugwell Rd. and left onto Michelson.

FYI According to our loose definition, an ecohome (new or retrofit) uses building techniques and/or technology to create energy savings and a substantially lower carbon footprint in both construction and ongoing operation. Insulation and airtightness, passive solar orientation, thermal mass building materials, renewable energy sources (solar, heat pump, biomass), rainwater harvesting, greywater collection and recycled building materials are considerations.

 

Our 2018 brochure (PDF files)

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Thanks to our returning co-organizers: Martin Bissig, Jeff Bateman and Stephen Hindrichs (Stephen used his drone and much creativity to shoot and edit the video above). 

The acts we’re following … 

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TICKETS at the Stick in the Mud Cafe in downtown Sooke from 10 am to 2 pm. Or pick them up from our hosts (circled locations) directly during tour hours, 11 am to 3 pm.  Prices: $5 per person/$10 per carload/free to pedestrians and cyclists. All participants will be asked to sign an insurance waiver. Thank you and ENJOY! 

Discover how trend-setting neighbours in the Sooke region are tapping into nature’s energy grid, modernizing time-honoured natural building techniques and finding creative ways to minimize their environmental impacts while saving money in the bargain.

The second Sooke Ecohome* Tour on Saturday, Oct. 14 offers six examples of how the renewable energy revolution is taking root in the region. Three homes are in Sooke, three in East Sooke. Nice-priced tickets ($5 per person/$10 per carload) will be available on event day *only* at the Stick in the Mud Coffeehouse (corner of Eustace and Otter Point roads in downtown Sooke) and at each of our participating venues.

Our 2017 tour stops from east-to-west:

* “The Harmless Home,” a Net Zero family residence with panoramic Juan de Fuca ocean views now being constructed by Sooke’s Ridgeco Developments. Exterior walls are the first to utilize interlocking Just BioFiber blocks; manufactured in Calgary, they’re stronger than steel, do not burn, require no vapour barrier and have an insulation value estimated at R60. Once complete, the home will have 16kW of solar panels, Tesla Powerwall back-up batteries, a level-2 septic system and an extensive rainwater collection system to augment the on-site well. 5200 East Sooke RoadHost: Arno Keinonen with guests: Ridgeco’s Frank McKendry, Just BioFiber’s Michael DuChamplain and sustainability planner/green building designer Jack Anderson from the Nanaimo area firm Greenplan.  

* The Rainbird Econest, an in-progress, off-grid home near East Sooke Provincial Park’s Aylard Farm.  The home is an EcoNest Peregrine design with a timber frame interior and exterior walls of light straw-clay. The home incorporates  elements to reduce the use of fossil fuels and the impact on the land and to create a healthy living environment.  Chart the project’s progress on its Facebook group page. 310 Becher Bay RoadHosts: Shyanne Smith and family. Scheduled talk at 2 p.m. with Keary Conwright from Sooke’s KC Natural Homes. 

* A 238-sq ft  East Sooke tiny house temple built this year on a rural property off Kangaroo Road as a meditation retreat and working space for Vibeke Vaerum and Michael Cruickshanks, a pair of professional health practitioners. Wood frame construction with almost entirely wood finishings features no drywall or paint for health, environmental and aesthetic reasons. Rainwater havesting and composting systems on site. 1635 Selborne Drive.  Hosts: Vibeke, Michael and builder/designer Forest Adam from Homes With LoveAccess either via Kangaroo Road (turn at Barrow, then La Bonne to Selborne) or Rocky Point Road (Liberty, then left on La Bonne).  Park in the cul-de-sac at the very end of Selborne just past the Sooke Hanger sign.

* A town centre Sooke home with 14 solar panels (300w photovoltaic) installed by Viridian Energy Co-operative that have lowered the home’s annually averaged hydro bill to a current $56/month; the panels also power a 30 amp EV charger for a 2017 Nissan Leaf.  Other features: A solar hot water system preheats city water before it gets to the electric water heater; and a beer-can furnace warms the building’s crawl space. 2098 Solent Road North. Hosts: Gord Fulcher and Lis Johansen with Viridian’s Steve Unger. 

Plus two homes back by popular demand from last year’s tour …

* A solar-powered west-end Sooke residence featuring a diverse permaculture oasis of annuals and perennials, a diverse food garden (lemon tree and banana plant included) and a supporting infrastructure that includes rainwater catchment, grey water irrigation, water filtration and a team of industrious worker chickens. Displays of composters and a composting toilet. 2179 Henlyn DriveHosts: Stephen and Lee Hindrichs with Virdian Energy Manager Kuan Jian Foo and, representing Sun-Mar Canada, the Hindrichs’ Henlyn Rd. neighbour Brian MacNeill. 

* A thoroughly modern farmstead in a bucolic Otter Point setting. Highlights include thermal mass interior walls and roof-mounted solar vacuum tubes powering the radiant in-floor hot water system. 2358 Kemp Lake RoadHosts: Christine Bossi, Martin Bissig and family. Builder Keary Conwright will be on site for a talk at 11:30 am. Bonus: Enjoy a cup of Herbal Tea Station licorice mint tea, harvested and prepared by Martin on site with a solar drying station.

Note: Organizers are seeking one more Sooke home to add to the tour. Might it be yours?! No alt.energy or expensive features required! If you’re an exemplar of household e-smarts — i.e., weatherproofed doors and windows, water-heater blankets, energy efficient appliances, LED lighting, perhaps a wood-pellet stove, etc. — and are happy to welcome drop-in visitors, please let us know no later than Tues., Oct. 3 via email to sooketransition@gmail.com.  We’ll assign a volunteer to help out. Our goal: To demonstrate that proven, low-or-no-cost everyday initiatives like your own are the starting point for everyone’s energy conservation gameplan.

More details: Jeff Bateman @ 250.642.2056; jbateman@shaw.ca

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Update: Thank you all! Despite heavy rains in the morning, the day cleared and we welcomed more than 150 attendees from all parts of the south Island, the Cowichan Valley and even a few visitors from Vancouver. A great day! We’ll be back next year. 

The first Sooke Ecohome Tour offers seven examples of how the renewable energy revolution is taking root right here in the region.

Tour stops include the super-efficient Harbourside Cohousing on the Sooke waterfront; the cob cottage at lovely ALM Organic Farm; a rammed-earth home in Otter Point under construction by Earth House Holdings; a newly built tiny home made largely from found and recycled materials; and a trio of private residences — two with solar arrays installed by Viridian Energy Co-operative and a third constructed of natural materials by Keary Conwright Natural Homes.

Click here for further details on our tour venues.

Get practical ideas on how to retrofit your home for immediate energy efficiency improvements while exploring what’s possible atop and under your own roof in the future.

Meet with the homeowners and their special guests as you investigate natural building construction, rooftop solar, rainwater catchment systems, grey water irrigation, radiant in-floor systems, heat pumps, permaculture gardens and outdoor solar cookers.

Your hosts will include a local farming legend, two former Red Cross International aid workers and their kids, a barista extraordinaire, an intentional wellness specialist and her airline pilot husband, a wildcrafter residing with his family in a newly constructed tiny home, and the members of one of Canada’s most celebrated cohousing ventures.

Tickets will be available only on the morning and early afternoon of event day, Oct. 8th, at the Stick in the Mud Cafe, on Eustace and Otter Point roads in the heart of Sooke starting at 9:30 a.m.

Ticket prices: $5 per individual; $10 per carload (car pooling encouraged!); free to pedestrians and cyclists. 

The Sooke Ecohome Tour is sponsored by the Real Estate Foundation of BC with additional funding support from BC Hydro and the District of Sooke. Our thanks to all.

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