BC’s Light House Centre Offers Sustainable Building Resources

Need help building sustainably? Light House offers resources for green builders in BC

Credit: Courtesy of Kirei

Kirei cabinet board doors are made from reclaimed waste plant stalks

Want to build sustainably but don’t know where to start? Try Light House Sustainable Building Centre

One of B.C.’s go-to organizations for eco-friendly building options, Light House offers practical advice from architects, engineers, building science professionals and researchers.

Light House has an eco-building products centre, a library, professional courses, and staff that provide market research, policy development and other eco-building consulting. We spoke with Light House’s Gil Yaron.

BCH: What’s your specific role at Light House Sustainable Building Centre?

Yaron: I do policy and market research to find out the viability and potential of a new green product that a manufacturer is launching, or if a builder needs to know what engineering software exists for a certain application. We’re also working with the city [of Vancouver] to develop bylaws requiring that all buildings being renovated have energy-efficiency upgrades. We’re working with Eco Canada to analyze issues that may arise within the green building sector. For example, there’s a huge learning curve in computerized technology that those who manage eco-buildings need to know about heating, air conditioning, water and other installations. 

BCH: What else does Light House do?

Yaron: We have been involved in over 100 building projects, working with developers and homeowners; we’ve trained 1,500 professionals each year since we opened in 2005; and can help you with everything from getting LEED certification for your building to hiring an environmental carpenter to developing carbon reduction strategies. 

BCH: How was Light House involved in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games?

Yaron: Light House, which is non-profit, co-ordinated the design process for the Vancouver Athletes’ Village and gave technical assistance for the Whistler Athletes’ Village to meet the Whistler Green standard. Our location at 2060 Pine Street in Vancouver was originally opened in 2008 for delegates visiting the Olympics to showcase what building technologies B.C. has to offer.

BCH: Can you mention a few of the innovative products displayed in your gallery?

Yaron: We support green and rapidly renewable products. For example, Kirei makes beautiful wall-covering tiles from reclaimed waste coconut shells, and also makes strong, lightweight boards from reclaimed waste stalks of the sorghum plant for flooring, cabinetry and countertops. Squak Mountain Stone countertops resemble soapstone or limestone but are made of recycled paper, recycled glass, coal fly ash and cement. The material (from Washington) is hand-cast into stain-resistant, faux-stone slabs. FLOR is carpet made from recycled and renewable resources that peels and sticks in tile sections. You can design your carpet, pull it up and change it, take it with you when moving, and replace a tile if it gets stained. They don’t require much energy to make and are completely recyclable. 

BCH: You have a display kitchen. Why? 

Yaron: It’s our office kitchen so it features fully operating green appliances such as an Energy Star Fisher & Paykel dishwasher that has two independent washing drawers – crystal can go in one and soiled pots in the other – customizing each drawer to minimize water, energy and detergent. It has G-Roc countertops made from 85-per-cent recycled glass and recycled concrete. It’s as strong as concrete, looks similar to granite, can be protected without sealant, and is nontoxic.

Our kitchen’s flooring is Marmoleum, biodegradable linoleum made with linseed oil, rosins, and wood flour on a jute backing. It’s been sold for 100 years, proven to be tough and stain resistant, and still makes an appealing floor. 

BCH: You also have a database of people who work on green buildings.

Yaron: You can find a lot of information on our website under “Find a Green Building Professional” that lists architects, plumbers, contractors, recyclers, demolition companies, hardwood floor dismantlers, realtors, energy auditors, interior designers, indoor air-quality experts and landscape designers devoted to environmental building.

BCH: What type of professional courses do you offer?

Yaron: They include a Market Insights breakfast to update the industry on market trends, a Green Construction Training Program, a Sustainable Building Advisor Program for a range of green building practices, and courses to assess the life-cycle environmental performance of buildings and products.

Originally published in BC Home magazine. For monthly updates, subscribe to the free BC Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.