A farm on the southwest edge of Embro is being transformed into an innovative housing and mixed-use development that puts environmental stewardship and responsible use of land at the forefront.
Langlois Eco Homes, owned by John and Sue Langlois, is nearing completion of the first five-acre phase of homes. The jewel in the crown of this phase is the block of six townhomes been built and certified to the Passive House standard, considered to be the world’s highest standard for energy efficiency, health, and comfort.
“The Passive House building approach dramatically reduces heat loss and gain through the foundation, walls, roof, and windows,” says Nicole Langlois, who works with her parents on the development. “This is done through high levels of insulation and careful air-sealing, which eliminate thermal bridges, as well as triple-glazed windows and high-performance doors. It’s called passive because much of the heat required is met through passive sources such as solar radiation or the heat emitted by appliances and even by the occupants.”
Building and certifying their homes to the Passive House standard has placed Langlois Eco Homes in an exclusive class of builders. “We don’t know of other ‘production builders’ in Canada who are building to this standard and offering it to the general public,” says Nicole. “Most Passive Houses are custom builds, created for a discriminating owner by architects and mechanical engineers who specialize in Passive House. We decided to work with specialists to offer this high level of quality to everyday home buyers.”
Also in the first phase of development are 24 single-family homes built to the Net Zero or Net Zero Ready standard. These are currently being built by Sinclair Homes, a company that specializes in Net Zero building.
Focussing on Passive House and Net Zero will be the plan for all future development by Langlois Eco Homes. “As we develop the master plan for this 72-acre farm, we’re very excited about the innovative planning strategies we can incorporate. We’ll continue to focus on sustainable building practices for ourselves and any other builders who choose to build with us, but we’re also ‘baking in’ some land-use ideas that will benefit future homebuyers and the community at large,” says Nicole. Generous amounts of green space, walking trails, community gardens, and space for new amenities and retail are just some of the ways in which the new community will add to what the village already has to offer.
The Langlois family see their development as a perfect fit with the work that Zorra Township and Oxford County have been doing toward meeting their 100 percent renewable targets. “We like to think we can help to put Zorra on the map with some really forward-thinking approaches,” says Nicole. “We also hope that this development sets a different standard, one that will encourage other builders to push the envelope on how energy-efficient they can make new homes.”
In terms of the cost of building to higher standards, Nicole Langlois says there are more “soft costs” required for engineering and energy modelling in the design stage. “Every aspect of a Passive House is modelled before it’s built so that it performs as it should: solar orientation, window placement, and annual temperature averages are all factored into the design.” She adds there are also more building materials involved, as Passive House requires more insulation and air sealing than other types of building. Despite the higher costs, the actual consumer prices are on par with other market options. “Our townhomes are priced in line with other new homes of a similar size and superior quality. Each one has a base footprint of 2,200 square feet, and with three bedrooms and three full bathrooms, they function like a single-family home. They’re also beautiful, inside, and out!”
Passive House townhomes by Langlois Eco Homes are available on Realtor.ca. Interested buyers can contact Nicole Langlois at 519-998-9724 or Realtor Fred Freeman at 519-421-5714.