Sustainable Living Center

The Sustainable Living Centre

The Kinark Outdoor Centre's Sustainable Living Centre was designed to be a living example of the leading edge in sustainable building design and construction. It was designed and built by the 2006 Sustainable Building Design and Construction class of Fleming College, led by instructor and program coordinator Chris Magwood. Structural engineering was provided by Anthony Spick of Blackwell Bowick Partnership.

This was an exciting project to undertake, as it represented a surprisingly rare circumstance in sustainable building: a client whose desire was to have a building that was as sustainably built as possible. Often, clients wish to embrace certain aspects of sustainability, but don't wish to pursue this goal in all aspects of the building. This makes the Kinark project very unique. Coupled with Kinark's desire to have the building exist as a teaching tool for a wide range of learners, this building is rare and fascinating to visit.

In sustainable building, the goal is to create beautiful, functional and comfortable space using materials and methods that have the least possible effect on the environment during construction. The finished building should continue to operate in a manner that keeps its environmental impacts as low as possible, should serve its function for a long time, and should be able to be dismantled at the end of its life with many reusable components and little or no toxic waste.

Photos of the building process can be viewed on the Sustainable Living Center's website.

Building Features

The building incorporates the following features:

  • Fully accessible, single story
  • 1200 square feet
  • Double wall rammed earth bag foundation with insulation spacer
  • Cordwood masonry columns
  • Hemlock log roof rafters
  • Straw bale wall insulation
  • Curved stud wall with rammed straw-clay fill
  • Earthen plaster
  • Passive-solar heating and shading design
  • Eastern white cedar roof shingles
  • Solar hot water heater
  • Rainwater collection for toilet and handwashing
  • Peat-based septic system
  • Solar light tubes for interior daylighting
  • Off-grid, renewable solar photovoltaic electricity
  • Storage of summer attic heat underground for winter comfort
  • Curved rammed earth bag internal partition with radiant heat tubes
  • Very low embodied energy
  • Extensive use of recycled, re-used, and locally available materials