Quebec carpentry students attempt LEED v4 certification on home that will be donated to Habitat for Humanity

In collaboration with Habitat for Humanity and the Province of Quebec, the 'Our House' project in Ormstown, Quebec, will see carpentry students building a home targeting LEED certification.

New Frontiers School Board 'Our House' team
New Frontiers School Board 'Our House' team © Peter Dahms

One of the best ways to afford positive change in the construction industry is to send the next generation of builders out into the field with the desire and necessary knowledge to build something better. The New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) in Ormstown, QC is doing just that.

The 'Our House' project is an ambitious undertaking that is making big waves in the school board and the community as a whole, but nowhere more than in the halls of the school. It's probably a mix of the high-profile nature of the project, the idea of building something that outperforms other homes, and the fact that the work they do will end up giving two families in need an exceptional quality home.

The school has fully embraced the LEED green building rating system (three teachers are already certified with LEED credentials) and they are giving their students a chance to work on a registered LEED for Homes building project. Having project experience is essential to attaining LEED credentials, but that opportunity is not always easy to find, so this is another leg up for NFSB students who want to excel in their careers by attaining green building credentials.

Along with training teachers and students to become LEED certified, Ecohome has had the pleasure of being part of the design team from the beginning, and seeing the level of participation and interest among the students has been motivating and rewarding. 

'Our House' prefab LEED home
Students building the floor of the 'Our House' prefab  © John Hodges

"The 'Our House' project has served an invaluable purpose in the life of the Carpentry Program at our Centre. Students know that working on the project is not a right, but a privilege - a way to learn new and exciting strategies, techniques and processes.” says LEED AP-certified teacher John Hodges. “There is a definite buzz of interest in the build, and students know that if they do not do their class projects, or if they have poor attendance, or if they are struggling with the material in their modules, they will not be invited to participate in the build. We seem to have been able to work out a way to support students' regular learning, while offering a substantive enrichment project that elevates the life and culture of the Centre and underscores the regular material of the program through project-based learning.”

Due to Quebec union regulations, students can't get onto an actual building site to gain experience, so the school has had to design a modular home that could be pre-fabricated in the school and shipped to the building site for assembly. 

To further complicate matters, homes for Habitat for Humanity have to meet the specific needs of individual families. Without having a family selected meant a certain amount of flexibility had to be factored in during the design phase to make final adjustments for occupants who may have special needs.

Because of those many design challenges and having to squeeze this build into a school curriculum, dealing with the logistics and red tape of this groundbreaking initiative has inevitably resulted in many delays - but the time is finally here. So, to get back in the groove, we are reposting episode 1 of the video series the school has already begun and we’ll continue to update the project as the build progresses.