The snail is Harmony Habitat’s philosophical mascot. It carries its own, perfect biologically appropriate home on its back. And unlike an invasive species, which creates imbalance in its environment, it is beneficial to the ecosystem it is a part of.

Guiding rating systems for the demonstration build

Living Building Challenge (LBC)

The Living Building Challenge is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard.It is endorsed by the Canadian and US Green Building Councils. The standard calls for the creation of building projects “at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture”. The standard’s author, architect Jason McLennan describes it as “co-creating with Nature”. All considerations are analyzed for lifecycle carbon impacts – from raw material extraction to disposal and a “worst-in-class” list of chemicals is disallowed.

To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements in seven performance areas over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. The areas include: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. These are subdivided into a total of twenty imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence.Full LBC certification requires that a building be Net Positive Energy or, produces more energy than it uses. Three minute video about LBC. The environmental ethics and biophilic design integrated in the Living Building Challenge a great inspiration for Harmony Habitat. For more info and videos about LBC, see this page.

LBC’s Declare building product ingredients program is an exciting effort to encourage manufacturers to create healthier, more ecological building products and to declare on their label all of the information required to assess them. It replaces misleading marketing (greenwashing), with authentic transparency and it encourages manufacturers to continually improve their products.

Passive House

Passiv Haus (PH) is a performance standard that originated in Germany and now have North American and Canadian chapters. “The core focus of the standards is to dramatically reduce the requirement for space heating and cooling, while creating excellent indoor air quality and comfort levels”

Passive House building envelope science will help us create a high performance building that requires very little extra heating and no extra cooling. For ventilation we will integrate a small ductless Heat Recovery Ventilator integrated with carefully designed natural (passive) ventilation. For additional moisture control, the building envelope will be self drying and it will be foam free* (or as close as we can get to this) for optimal human and environmental health (For a series of articles, see foam.)

Building Biology

Bau-Biologie® (Building Biology) building guidelines originated in Germany to help create healthy homes, schools, and workplaces. It includes the world’s most rigorous health considerations to support excellent air quality, mold resistance, the static energy of materials, and an unpolluted electromagnetic environment not addressed by any other standard. The links below provide further information:

Further design considerations

Resilient Design

Resilient Design works to develop resilience at the household, neighbourhood and community level. Resilience is the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance. It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.

City planners estimate that every dollar invested in enhanced resilience or disaster preparedness saves $4-5 in avoided repairs. Resilient design offers peace of mind and potentials savings as well. Through resilience we can maintain livable conditions in the event of natural disasters, loss of power, or other interruptions in normally available services or fuels. Relative to climate change, resilience involves adaptation to the wide range of regional and localized impacts that are expected with a warming planet.

Passive Survivability

At a minimum, resilient design prepares for, “passive survivability”, which is the ability of a building to support life in the aftermath of a disaster. Alex Wilson, founder of BuildingGreen and president of the Resilient Design Institute, describes it as, “how quickly many buildings become uninhabitable if the power goes out during a period of extreme cold or extreme heat” ref. A building designed for passive survivability is safer, offers residents peace of mind and is likely to rely on simpler and more durable components that are more affordable to operate and repair. And most importantly, it can prevent losses related to emergencies or service interruptions.

*Learn more about the importance of resilient design. and here.

Earthquake Preparedness

According to Canadian Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction, “The National Building Code of Canada is designed to protect the lives of building occupants from a wide array of hazards, including an earthquake. From a seismic point of view, the Code aims to avoid structural collapse and the loss of life that may result from strong ground motion.” However, a code built home can still experience significant damage and many homes will be rendered uninhabitable in the case of a major earthquake.

It just makes good sense to reduce the risk of earthquake damage. According to the CICLR, “A home is the single largest asset most people possess [and loss of use costs can be tremendous].” “Simply building for life safety is not acceptable to many Canadians…. Loss of use and recovery costs can be exorbitant.” The Canadian Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction Builder’s Guide explains the benefits of their Design for Safer Living program.

The project pathways are additionally influenced by the following building systems/standards.

Other Rating Systems

The following systems are inspirational and a sign of change in motion we are not addressing their criteria in our current demonstration house.

Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle is a beautiful example of an aspirational, research based certification program to encourage better manufacturing. We have listed this under philosophy since it is core to our mission, and under Standards as their criteria are so aligned with our design and building goals.

The Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard guides designers and manufacturers through a continual improvement process that looks at a product through five quality categories — material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.

Product assessments are performed by a qualified independent organization trained by the Institute. Manufacturers must regularly demonstrate good faith efforts to improve their products for the recertification process.

Learn more


The WELL standard addresses features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. It marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research.

Architectural Challenge 2030

Architecture 2030 is a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization. Mazria established it to challenge architects to reduce fossil fuel pollution by design on the buildings they build so that they are Net Zero Energy (or fuel neutral) by the year 2030. Innovative sustainable design strategies, on-site renewable power generation and/or purchasing (20% maximum) renewable energy will be essential to meeting these targets. (Challenge 2030)

Leading professional and non profit organizations such as the American Institute of Architecture, the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada, the US Green Building Council and many others are endorsing 2030. It has been included into various legislation and building codes and overwhelmingly adopted by the architectural community, including 73% of the top 30 architecture and engineering firms. 41% of US architectural firms have signed on.

Net Zero Carbon Building Standard

This is a new (2017) standard, administrated by the Canadian Green Building Council. It addresses the full embodied energy of the materials and home, including peak demand considerations to help reduce stress on the grid at peak times. In the analysis of all the products and methods to be used, we will assess if it is possible to achieve carbon neutrality in the building of the demonstration Eco Healthy Home or future Eco Healthy Homes.