Industry and community concept endorsement

What Harmony Habitat understands so clearly is that the homes we design and build can represent so much more than just a place to live. Operating on a shoestring budget, this organization is demonstrating how to achieve multiple key benefits: safeguarding human health through careful material selection; boosting the local economy with innovative ways of building; and protecting the environment through net-zero-energy and carbon-neutral building operation.

The home being created by Harmony Habitat will serve as a model for all of us—not only the residents of Gabriola Island—of what can be achieved if we put our minds together. I applaud these efforts and look forward to watching the project emerge from the drawing board to reality.

Alex Wilson, Founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and President of the Resilient Design Institute

It is my pleasure to write in support of the Eco Healthy Homes Initiative.  As a former community planner in Vancouver, I am familiar with the myriad of institutional, regulatory financial and attitudinal obstacles to sustainable and broadly affordable housing.  Even incremental improvements are difficult it seems, yet now more radical advancements are required to meet the urgent necessity for sustainable yet affordable housing.  This is why I believe so strongly in the Eco Healthy Homes Initiative as an innovative and dynamic approach that has great potential to kick-start the required change.  The multi-disciplinary and multi-sector approach is a brilliant way to tackle the “change inertia” in building and ownership practices.

Eco Healthy Homes is a project well positioned to initiate far-reaching change in how we build and use land and I support their project wholeheartedly.

Harv Weidner, Former Senior Planner of the City of Vancouver; Project Development Coordinator of JustBioFiber Structural Solutions

It is clear from several different perspectives that functional and scalable innovations are needed in our built and community environments. In this way, ‘sustainability’ really does begin at home, in our domiciles, and in their surroundings.

Harmony Habitats Eco Healthy Homes Project has a very promising and interesting model, one that engages both the proverbial forest and the proverbial trees.  From the most specific elements of the home building process, to wider elements of land use and neighbourhood design, to the hybrid community organization that supports it, Harmony Habitat is proposing development, prototyping and experimentation in sustainable housing that is important and extremely interesting. I encourage support of the sustainable housing and land use initiatives planned by Harmony Habitat.

Dr. Raymond Dart, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Trent University

It is my pleasure to write this letter in support of Harmony Habitat’s Eco Healthy Homes Project. Light House is pleased to be associated with this project, which we believe is making an important contribution to our work towards healthier, more environmentally conscious buildings.

Light House is a not-for-profit company dedicated to advancing green buildings and livable communities that use resources effectively and ultimately give something back to society. In order to advance the project’s goal of developing a replicable model for low impact housing and land sharing, Harmony Habitat needs the support of organizations that share their vision of making housing more healthy, sustainable, and attainable.

As one such organization, I am strongly in support of their work.

Luke Smeaton, BBSc., CEM, LEED AP O+M; Light House Sustainable Building (formerly); Sustainability and Energy Management Professional with North Vancouver School District #44; BBSc., CEM, LEED AP O+M; Centre

As a Local Trustee from Gabriola Island, I am pleased to provide this expression of support for Harmony Eco Healthy Homes initiative. The Islands Trust mandate is to preserve and protect our environment and unique amenities, and as part of this we strive to foster sustainable communities on the Gulf Islands. This project appears to me to be consistent with that goal.

It is my understanding that Harmony Habitat is dedicated to research and the development of innovations in replicable eco-housing and sustainable land use solutions. Their aim is to foster attainable home ownership with a lower ecological footprint while working within existing regulatory frameworks. Their approach appears to be creative and innovative, while also adhering to a high standard of social and environmental responsibility.

Heather O’Sullivan, Gabriola Island Local Trustee with Islands Trust

The Eco Healthy Homes Initiative by Harmony Habitat™ Sustainable Building Solutions CCC Inc. has been a project we at Eco-Sense have watched grow. We feel it is a worthwhile project that has feet.

The Eco-Sense project has received financial support for our investigations supporting healthy and sustainable housing through research into materials, engineering and energy efficiency.

We have had a long line of engineers, bankers, policy initiators, and the general public tour the Eco Sense home, looking for and learning of alternatives to the conventional housing stock, alternatives that are safer for not just their own family and employees, but the broader environment, inclusive of the impact of the manufactured materials at the point of processing.

We see very few projects that aim to fit this expanding niche by developing a building system that is marketable due to its replicability, attainability and scalability.

As we see that there is a desire and a market, and have seen a history of persistence to bring the Eco Healthy Homes concept to where it is today, Eco-Sense is in full support of the Eco Healthy Homes project.

Gord Baird, Regenerative Systems Designer from Eco-Sense (Living Building Challenge recognized project); Councillor District of Highlands

My name is Cindy McCaugherty, of Raincoast Homes, Gabriola Island, BC.  As a designer of alternative sustainable houses, an owner/builder/resident of an eco-friendly home, and as a partner involved in land sharing, I would like to lend my support to Harmony Habitat/Orca Design’s grant application to your foundation’s grant program in relation to their Eco Healthy homes initiative.

Having met extensively with Harmony Habitat’s founder Tatha Cornish, I am deeply impressed with the scope, depth of understanding, and vision of the proposed Eco Healthy Homes project. Harmony Habitat’s dedication to a project that would advance sustainable land use through innovative design of future-ready, healthy human habitat with shared land tenure would be of great benefit to my community on Gabriola Island, an island already showing deep commitment to stewardship of the land, air, water and healthful living. This would truly be an exciting well received community building project.

Not only as an alternative home designer/builder but also as a director of Gabriola Housing Society, I see a clear need in our community for attainable home ownership options for those seeking a healthy, high quality, small-footprint lifestyle but who do not have the skills, knowledge or time to navigate their way through the complex research required for custom eco-building, nor the desire to take on excessive debt in an attempt to acquire land and build an eco home.

I strongly believe Harmony Habitat’s unique approach to these barriers will provide many positive benefits to our community, potential home buyers, as well as transitioning renters to home ownership through long term tenure solutions.

Should there be an opportunity, my intention is to provide this exciting visionary project with my time, labour, and alternative building expertise to help showcase how  beautiful, ecologically designed, ethical, healthy homes are good for people, good for my community, and good for the planet.

In conclusion, as we enter this time of transformation, our built environment and our tightly intertwined relationship to the earth need to reflect this important recognition that our well-being is directly linked to the well-being of the planet. I can’t think of a better way or a more elegant solution to demonstrate this.

Cindy McCaugherty, Designer with Raincoast Homes

As a resident of Gabriola Island for 20 years, I am familiar with the housing needs and sustainable land use ideals of our community. For twelve years I served as an elected Islands Trust Trustee, overseeing Official Community Plans, Land Use Bylaws, and rezoning applications within a Preserve and Protect framework.

This elected experience gave me particular appreciation for the barriers to financially accessible and sustainable housing: despite innovative land use policies, barriers to implementation remain frustratingly solid.

Because it might soften or remove those barriers, I support Harmony Habitat’s Eco Healthy Homes Project.

I share Harmony Habitat’s concerns about health and environmental problems with the construction of houses, and I regret that ordinary people are unable to afford or access greener, healthier and more ethical options.

Our region has a shortage of lower cost housing, and rental vacancies are very low. Further subdivisions are not a remedy, because of groundwater scarcity and sensitive ecology, and the lack of sewer and water infrastructure.

I’m encouraged by the potential for Harmony Habitat’s proposal to achieve the following:

  • Reducing the barriers of high land cost and high design/construction costs inherent in building better housing.
  • Addressing land-sharing in a comprehensive way, with co-ownership frameworks.
  • Increasing availability of rentals, by land owners who prefer to rent the proposed eco-cottages.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (from future community projections based on conventional housing).

I’m especially encouraged that all these benefits appear to be achievable within our community’s existing zoning regulations. I am pleased to offer my moral support to this project and I hope you will consider supporting it as well.

Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo-Ladysmith; former Chair of the Islands Trust Council

I am very pleased to offer my support Harmony Habitat’s Eco Healthy Homes Project.

The advent of climate change makes reducing energy consumption a necessity. Seventeen percent of all energy consumed in Canada is used to power homes. Most of this consumption is wasted due to inefficient appliances, inefficient home design, and inadequate insulation. There is huge potential in improving the efficiency, environmental impact, ethics and health of our building products and methods. It is time that we change the way we build.

I believe that Harmony Habitat’s proposed standards, land use innovations, educational outreach and innovative solutions can have a broad positive impact. This timely, replicable and scalable approach has the potential to benefit our local economy and local environment while improving our community’s water security, supporting our social systems and reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. I offer my whole-hearted support to Harmony Habitat’s efforts and hope that you will too.

Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands; former leader of the Green Party of Canada

I am pleased to write in support of the Eco Healthy Homes Initiative from a number of perspectives. First as a founding member of Sustainable Gabriola, I recognize the importance of creating environmentally sustainable and affordable housing alternatives. One of the Sustainable Gabriola projects – the Village Core Citizen-led Planning Initiative – is deeply concerned with how we can create innovative sustainable housing options in our Village Core, in particular how we can make housing attainable for younger singles, couples and families in a way that recognizes the challenges faced by a community dependent on private wells and septic systems. The economic future of our community will depend on being able to attract and retain a younger demographic and one of the biggest challenges they face is housing.

As a PhD student looking at the impact of globalization on rural resource extraction-dependent communities, I have observed the critical role of attainable housing in small communities. In the face of increasing concerns about climate change, these communities are having to rethink their very livelihoods. It is at times of crisis that creative options can play a critical role in moving forward.

The Eco Healthy Homes Project takes an innovative and practical approach to addressing the barriers to land sharing. By enabling effective land partnerships, it can provide social, economic and environmental benefit. The Eco Healthy Homes Project offers a refreshing and important strategy in the quest for more affordable, socially-connected, stable housing options in urban and rural areas.

Dyan Dunsmoor-Farley, Wave Consulting

As an attorney for socially and environmentally friendly individuals and organizations, it is apparent to me that our current legal and cultural providers of finance, building, land use, and property have evolved toward unjust unaffordability and stagnation of creative ecologically sound building practices.

Harmony Habitat describes and creates a model of housing that is affordable, ecological, and replicable to create innovative open source legal documents and flexible building plans for working and actually building within current cultural and legal systems.

Harmony Habitat’s vision is practical and the approach is well designed for replication in multiple regions allowing for more of us to live with the benefits of home ownership and community within a healthier environment.

Jill Jacobs, Attorney, Jill Jacobs Law

I have worked as a land use planner in the South Cowichan Island Region over 20 years and have observed a slow but steady depopulation of rural and semi-rural areas.  Low incomes and high housing and land costs are preventing young families and individuals from acquiring land and investing in rural communities.  As a result, schools are closing, agricultural land is fallow or under-utilized, and the social fabric of our rural communities is eroding.  Non-conventional models of land ownership have the potential to strengthen rural communities by making land and housing ownership more attainable for young and lower income citizens. Additionally this can support local economics while helping make lower paid food production and other sustainable initiatives more practical career choices.

The collaborative problem-solving approach proposed by Harmony Habitat for a realistic and implementable model of co-ownership is both appropriate and impressive.  Research that has real-world application and directly benefit people and communities is rare indeed, and is worthy of our support.  I am hopeful that the project proposed by Harmony Habitat will proceed as proposed and am very much looking forward to the positive outcomes that will result.

Rob Conway, Manager, of Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Development Services Division

Habitat Harmony’s proposal to design and build a small eco-healthy home prototype for use by landowners who are legally allowed a second property on their land is one of those proposals that really hits the spot. I have been involved in land-use planning and ecovillage development for many years, and there is a great need for a small prototype dwelling that would exemplify zero carbon, renewable energy living, while also conserving scarce water resources. Such a prototype would have relevance not just in BC, but all around the world.

Guy Dauncey, Honorary Member of the Planning Institute of BC; Founder and Communications Director of the BC Sustainable Energy Association; Founder of the Victoria Car Share Co-operative; Author and co-author of nine books, including ‘The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming’, ‘Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic’; Fellow of the Findhorn Foundation