This Off-Grid House In Quebec Is Stunning

Take a tour of a zero net-energy beauty.

January 27, 2016
house in quebec
Adrien Williams

A Montréal-based architect has created one of the most beautifully designed sustainable homes we’ve seen: La Héronnière, a spacious 5,000-square-foot residence in Wentworth, a rural community about two hours west of the city. 

The building was commissioned from the architect Alain Carle by a family with two children, who wanted a home that reflected their commitment to sustainable living. Among the environmental requirements the family set forth for the project: no magnetic field in the home; no wireless communication; energy self-sufficiency; and no use of materials with volatile organic compounds (otherwise known as VOCs, one of the 12 Household Toxins To Banish From Your House.

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living room
Adrien Williams

Related: This Passive-Solar House Gives Us Warm Fuzzies

The house makes good work of reclaimed materials and renewable energy, using solar panels and hydroelectric power for fuel. Items such as wood from a former garage were incorporated into the design, too. It is set into a hill so that the ground floor on the north side is effectively underground, conserving energy. South-facing windows let in light and allow the sun to warm the house in the winter. The ground floor is heated mainly with a slow-combustion fireplace; wood doors from a garage were turned into a fence to separate it from the upstairs living area and prevent too much heat from escaping. Concrete floors aid in heat retention. Solar cells store energy in the summer months, giving  the home a net energy consumption of zero over the course of the year. A greenhouse is attached to the house, enabling the family to grow food year-round, making the home even more self-sufficient. 

hidden stair case
Adrien Williams

But the architect’s favorite feature, he says, is the windowless backside. “I just like the way the light at the end of the day plays with the volumes,” says Carle. “I always end up liking the less expressive facades, the ones that stay at their purest state.”