By Emily Stone
This article first appeared in print in the March issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
Whether you like it or not, our town is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Many of our buildings are expiring tear-downs, dilapidated and poorly insulated. Less than ideal for comfortable living, let alone the carbon footprints of their inhabitants. However, an alternative method of building is on the rise in B.C. – and one pioneering local business is determined to lead the change to a more sustainable future, both in terms of the quality of buildings and the day-to-day lifestyles of residents.
Revelstoke local Jocoah Sorensen founded Adaptive Homes as a result of his passion for sustainable, human-focused construction. Working in the construction industry since the age of 15 and inspired by alternative building techniques such as Cob building and Earthship biotecture (construction of off-the-grid dwellings whose structures and internal systems use almost entirely natural resources), Jocoah has piloted the construction of a variety of energy efficient homes in town. For the past six years, he has developed and evolved a repertoire of sustainable construction techniques. Working alongside Stark Architecture, the company who designed the modular buildings for the Mackenzie Village, he is eager to begin creating some state-of-the-art adaptive modular homes in town.
So what is defined as an ‘Adaptive Home’? In short, many types of ‘eco homes’ exist, including the 100% energy-efficient and incredibly well insulated passive house — the standards for which Adaptive Designs have been applying as guidelines for their local projects. For the construction of a fully adaptive home according to the company, there are seven Adaptive Principles: energy efficiency, harvesting of water, re-using waste water, off-the-grid renewable energy generation, off-site fabrication, situating the house at the optimum solar aspect for heating and cooling, and the ability to grow food using the recycled water. “The principles are really the backbone of the whole business,” Jocoah explains. “They allow us to have our own standards to ensure that we provide quality homes which will have a positive impact on our environment and community.”
These seven principles deliver the opportunity for the dweller to dramatically reduce their reliance on the carbon-intensive means of modern living. Water wastage is dramatically reduced, there is zero reliance on fossil fuels, and the carbon footprint associated with imports of store-bought food is offset. It is estimated that an adaptive home will cost you up to 90% less to run than a conventional one, so if your utility bill costs you $120 per month, that’s an enormous saving of almost $27,000 over a 20-year period.
A people-orientated business that strives for quality over quantity, Adaptive Homes is undoubtedly client-focussed. “Adaptive Homes is just an expression of my passion for the craftsmanship of home building, and seeing the difference it can make in people’s lives,” Jocoah says. “A home is likely the biggest investment a client will ever make, so providing one is the perfect opportunity for us to showcase exactly what a home can be.” Having expressed these values in previous projects throughout town, Jocoah looks forward to applying them to the fully adaptive homes of the future. It’s difficult to go wrong when the very purpose of his designs involve helping people live clean and cut down on living costs.
Jocoah believes it’s time we started thinking outside the box in terms of construction. “We are in a housing crisis and an affordability crisis. How can we keep going along?” He feels the innovative, sustainable and low cost dwellings that Adaptive Homes envision will ideal for Revelstoke. And the ball is rolling: the first proto-house, built under the adaptive principles, should be on the market this summer.
What else might the future hold? Plans are also underway for a cooperative four-plex housing project, built according to the principles. Adaptive Homes are looking for people interested in cooperative housing to be involved in the project, so if this is you then get in touch with them using the details below. Going forward, Adaptive Homes would like to provide Indigenous populations with sustainable housing – providing both job opportunities, and an overhaul on community-orientated living. We could also see a modular retrofit option for home extensions in the near future.