Harmony House

In 2006 Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC for short, of course) launched EQuilibrium, a program that was meant to get developers and builders to envision demonstration houses that focus on principles of sustainablity:
-occupant health and comfort,
-energy efficiency,
-energy production,
-resources conservation,
-reduced environmental impact, and
-last but certainly not least, affordability.
Designs are entered into a competition and the winning entries are built. In addition to having the winning entries built, the designers receive $60,000 to cover design costs, management, and commisioning of the project. Since the initiative's inception, six projects have been completed and are/were open to public as show pieces (they are sold once the tour period is over).

Earlier this year, it was announced that two out of this year's three winning entries originate in British Columbia, and one of these in Vancouver. It is a two-storey, 3,500 sf "Harmony House" envisioned by Vancouver's Habitat Design & Insightful Building Technologies. Harmony House has a separate in-law suite and a space for a home office. Designed as an integrated system, it boasts -
- light shelves and reflective surfaces
- skylights and ample window area
- rainwater harvesting
- wind and stack driven cooling tower
- solar system
Besides being the first EQuilibrium home to be built in Vancouver, Harmony also has the distinction of being the only project of all CMHC winning entries that is aesthetically anywhere near the twenty first century.

Unfortunately, the image above is all the graphic info that I can either provide or obtain two months after Diane Finlay's announcement of the winners. It seems that CMHC is somewhat lacking in public awareness/marketing department. It is sad to see such a worthy initiative barely rise above obscurity as far as the general public is concerned. Time and money should also be allocated to generate interest and awareness - updating the website every month or so, making it less "goverment" or setting up a separate dedicated one, embracing the pesky "new" online media, etc. This post could certainly do with a few more drawings and some engaging renderings.

Kudos to CMHC for the initiative - now put your mouth where your money is!

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