Huron County invited to participate in pilot housing project

·3 min read

HURON COUNTY – An affordable small home designed to be carbon net negative is one of the options the County of Huron will investigate in its search for solutions to the housing crisis.

Cabinscape CEO John Loerchner and project architect of RAW Design, Jon Jeronimus, appeared as a delegation at the first Huron County council meeting of 2022 and invited councillors to consider partnering with them on a Green Municipal Fund (GMF) application.

The GMF website describes the funding opportunity as follows:

GMF helps local governments switch to sustainable practices faster. Their unique mix of funding, resources, and training gives municipalities the tools they need to build resiliency — and create better lives for Canadians.

The two companies, Cabinscape and RAW Design, have been collaborating on a pilot project called Project Sinkhouse, which will see houses built with lower-carbon materials, and using more solar power.

They are doing research and development to decrease the carbon impact of the building industry.

The proposal is the pilot development of two carbon-negative, manufactured homes, hopefully on county-owned land. Once completed, however, the municipality would own and manage the units through Huron County Housing, which would allow the homes to be classified as affordable housing.

The goal is to go beyond the required standards and produce a “carbon sink,” net negative manufactured home.

The term “carbon sink” means “anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases, also carbon sequestration,” the pair explained in their presentation.

The two businesses want to create “a best-in-class approach to environmentally responsible, affordable manufactured home fabrication, community design and municipal level regulatory approaches.”

Using materials known to be less damaging to the climate, these tiny homes would utilize things like hemp or cork, relying on more sustainable materials and addressing climate change while remaining at or above regulations.

The GMF grant would cover up to 80 per cent of the cost for the pilot project. If approved, the remaining 20 per cent would need to be provided by the municipality, or they could explore some other form of a grant application.

The application for the GMF grant must have a lead municipality, which is one of the reasons the pair approached council at such an early stage in their concept.

The cost for the two-cabin pilot project is $473,000. The GMF grant, if approved, would cover $378,400, and the remaining $94,600 would be covered by the housing partner.

The presentation was for information purposes only, but several councillors requested more information, so they will invite the delegation to make their presentation to the housing department committee at a future date.

Cabinscape is a Canadian company providing custom-designed, off-grid, and environmentally-sound tiny cabin rentals. Our portable, low-impact wilderness cabins range in size from 100- 160 square feet.

The company manufactures in Clinton and are the first “small home” CSA certified manufacturer of off-grid CSA A277 homes. This certification is currently used to fabricate code-compliant cabins for Cabinscape’s rentals.

RAW Design was launched in November 2007. It is a full-service architectural and interior design firm with extensive experience in feasibility studies, institutional facilities, multiuse residential developments, net-zero projects, adaptive reuse, and heritage structures. RAW Design was named the Ontario Association of Architects’ Best Emerging Practice in 2009.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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