Superior air quality and performance in this prefabricated LEED® Platinum home

Roman Szumski is a physician and pathologist and was deeply involved in the process of designing and constructing a healthy home for his family.

LEED Platinum prefabricated home
LEED Platinum prefabricated home © Roman Szumski

Last April, Ellen and Roman Szumski earned LEED® Platinum certification for their home in Labelle, in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. LEED is a point-based green building rating system, so we must emphasize the exceptional performance of this house manufactured by Énergéco Concept Inc., particularly in the following categories:

1. Indoor Environmental Quality: 18 of 21 available points, with monitors for data collection

2. Energy and Atmosphere: 26 of 38 available points, heated with locally produced wood pellets

3. Materials and Resources: 15 of 16 available points, with healthy and local materials

An extraordinary customer:

A nice surprise for Alain Culis, President of Énergéco Concept, was when he learned exactly who his client was: "Throughout the construction and up until the delivery of the house, I did not know who Roman Szumski was. He visited the factory during manufacturing, took many pictures, and constantly praised the workmanship. Once the house was delivered, I was very surprised to learn that he was the Vice President of Life Sciences at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

In the field of life sciences, Mr Szumski is considered a visionary leader and an innovative manager. During the first winter, he invited me to his home and showed me the many monitors he had installed (humidity, CO, temperature) to calculate all possible variations between the indoor and outdoor environments. In fact, the indoor temperature varied at most by one degree Celsius during the winter, while humidity remained constant at 48%, highlighting the superb efficiency and performance of the house. In short, all this made me very proud of my company ".

In this interview with Ecohome's French counterpart (and LEED provider) Evaluations Ecohabitation, Roman Szumski shared his goals and design choices, highlighting the influence of his workplace on his decisions:

E: Why did you choose a prefab house?

RS: We had investigated the factory production process before we made the choice to go with a prefabricated house, and the controlled work environment of a factory (more similar to furniture manufacturing than a construction site), inspired our confidence. You can imagine the impact on the quality of the work and materials when they are protected from the elements. Manufacturing in a dry environment offers further protection against mold growth.

E: What were you most looking for in your home?

RS: What we were looking for the most was excellent environmental performance and a healthy living space. We also designed the house with a wheelchair in mind so it can accompany us in our old age.

E: Did your work at NRC influence your project?

RS: Yes, of course. My colleagues [at NRC] who are working on the National Building Code are doing research on the design of future homes. This made us look for a builder who listened well and used state-of-the-art construction methods. When we put our trust in builders, we expect them to pay particular attention to the important but seemingly minor details, even those that are hidden, like radon gas protection in basements.

E: Why a pellet stove?

RS: Quebec is one of the major producers of wood pellets, and I wanted an energy source that was both environmentally responsible and local. Also, wood pellets are an inexpensive way to heat a home. We are also fortunate in Quebec to have an abundant source of clean and renewable energy, so along with the pellet stove the house has an electric furnace, though its intention is primarily as a backup heat source only.

LEED Platinum prefab home
LEED Platinum prefab home © Roman Szumski

E: In your opinion, what are the most interesting features of your home, ecological or otherwise?

RS: The huge windows facing south with a superb view of the lake and the Laurentians. The house is only 1,500 square feet, but the wider corridors and doors for wheelchair access provide a feeling of calm and serenity.

E: What are the things you are most proud of?

RS: I am very proud that the house has achieved the LEED Platinum level. This is independent proof of the environmental performance of the house. My children, from the millennial generation, insisted that we make a house for the future. I think we succeeded!

E: Can you share any comments on your experience with the LEED certification process?

RS: It is important that the process be rigorous and independent with a standard that is known all over the world. It takes a little time, which was not a surprise as it is a very high standard.

LEED Platinum prefab home
LEED Platinum prefab home © Roman Szumski

LEED Platinum prefab home
LEED Platinum prefab home © Roman Szumski