By Chantal Tranchemontagne
Simon Harvey's "healthy homes" are quite literally a breath of fresh air.
Through his local company, Nomis Construction Corp., Harvey believes in matching new technology and natural materials for a healthier home environment.
"Basically, the components used (in construction), which are the materials you come in contact with everyday, are healthier for you," he says.
Harvey's aim is to do away with a range of chemicals, known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), in homes. VOCs are found in materials such as carpet, paint and particle board. Over time, these chemicals build up and are released into the air.
In order to combat this, he installs the Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) to filter internally polluted air. Harvey says that integrating the state-of-the-art filtration system into homes not only keeps you feeling better but helps save you money.
Adrienne Cameron, the Windermere Sea to Sky real estate agent who sold Harvey’s first local healthy home, in Whistler Cay Heights, points out that he uses natural substances such as wood, rubber and plaster in the construction process.
"He has eliminated man-made materials like glues, resins, plastic and paint," says Cameron, who has hired Harvey to build her new residence in Sunridge plateau.
Allergic to dust and mildew herself, Cameron believes in Harvey's concept of moving away from the "sick home syndrome," which can cause symptoms such as nose bleeds, nausea and even weight loss.
Harvey estimates most people spend two-thirds of their life in some sort of house, whether working in an office or sleeping at home.
"It's a lot of time spent indoors," he says and goes on to explain it's much easier to live in a healthy environment.
In addition to the ventilation feature, the HRV is cost effective because it uses existing indoor air to warm incoming outside air.
Harvey explains that a regular home heating system takes, for example, 30°F air and heats it to a comfortable household temperature of 70°F. The difference between the two makes for a large amount of energy being exhausted. The HRV reduces the difference between the two air masses and that translates into a lower monthly heating bill.
Cameron is impressed with Harvey's work in combining health and value.
"We're in Whistler. People demand high quality," she says.
These high standards don't necessarily translate into lengthier construction timelines or exorbitant building costs.
"The amount of time to build is comparable to a regular house," says Harvey.
And even though the price may go 5-20 per cent over and above average construction of a typical house, Harvey is quick to point out that most people's homes would never hit the 20 per cent mark unless they have severe reaction when exposed to specific compounds.
When renovating, most people need simple fixes like removing carpet or plastering over painted walls, he says.
Cameron thinks that there's a need out there and Harvey agrees. He thinks healthy homes should be the norm especially in Whistler.
"Whistler is considered a leading edge community. It should set an example for other communities to follow," he maintains.