Lau­rie Adams, founder of Tober­mory’s lux eco-lodge E’Terra, shows how you can live large in har­mony with the en­vi­ron­ment

NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Eco-tourism - By MEAGHAN CLARK

E’Terra Inn is a lux­u­ri­ous eco-retreat in Tober­mory, On­tario, es­tab­lished by Lau­rie Adams, a fourth-gen­er­a­tion Tober­mo­rian with a his­tory in eco-tourism and a noted speaker on sub­jects in­clud­ing green build projects.

Toronto Living con­trib­u­tor Meaghan Clark asked Adams to share her thoughts on the green build move­ment and on the mean­ing of E’Terra, along with tips on how to in­cor­po­rate their ideas in our own ren­o­va­tions.

TORONTO LIVING What mo­ti­vated you to build E’Terra?

LAU­RIE ADAMS“I did the whole project on a dare. I was in­ter­view­ing an en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer about the viability of an eco­log­i­cally friendly inn, and he said it couldn’t be done. He said, ‘Go ahead and turn Canada green if you think it’s re­ally worth it.’ Find­ing the bal­ance be­tween hu­man and en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues is our mission, steer­ing us all to­ward a brighter fu­ture for the earth (Terra) – hence the name E’Terra. E’Terra Inn is a pro­to­type to chal­lenge the in­tegrity of our en­vi­ron­men­tal ethics, and to en­gage our six senses with an ex­ec­u­tive edge.” TL Why was it so im­por­tant to cre­ate a “luxury” eco-retreat? LA“We are tar­get­ing cor­po­rate lead­ers in hopes that a visit to E’Terra will in­spire them to be more en­vi­ron­men­tally aware in their own lives and lead by ex­am­ple. E’Terra is a branded phi­los­o­phy about bal­anc­ing eco­nomics, en­vi­ron­ment and ethics. It evokes cre­ative changes that lead to ex­cep­tional busi­ness and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­sults.” TL Most peo­ple don’t as­so­ciate luxury with green build­ings. How do you pro­pose to change their think­ing? LA“Those who come to ex­plore and learn at E’Terra can find in­for­ma­tion on how to be more en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble in their ev­ery­day lives, not just while trav­el­ling. We work with oth­ers to achieve sim­i­lar goals and ob­jec­tives in their in­dus­tries, and to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on the build­ing and prin­ci­ples be­hind the inn, which are avail­able to all vis­i­tors. It’s just one per­son do­ing one thing at a time.” TL You’ve in­sisted that ev­ery sup­plier, con­trac­tor and part­ner pro­vide you with their com­pany’s green poli­cies and prac­tices. Was that dif­fi­cult to ac­com­plish? LA“It was three years of painstak­ing re­search! We took into con­sid­er­a­tion how and where ev­ery prod­uct was made, by whom, and its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. Cor­po­ra­tions had to pro­duce a work­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy fo­cus­ing on North Amer­ica. E’Terra is at least 85 per cent North Amer­i­can-made. The big­gest chal­lenge was the re­search, and get­ting cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­men­tal state­ments. Some com­pa­nies didn’t even re­spond when we asked for their pub­lished en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies.” TL Many read­ers think about cre­at­ing a greener home, though most lack the time and en­ergy to fol­low prac­tices like yours at E’Terra. What’s the eas­i­est way to in­cor­po­rate green ideas into a home build/ren­o­va­tion? What’s a good place to start? LA“Strin­gent LEED (Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign) stan­dards are ad­min­is­tered by the non-profit Canada Green Build­ing Coun­cil, a sys­tem that could well be ap­plied to eco­houses. E’Terra’s stan­dards, in­clud­ing who, what, when, where, why and how, could also be adapted. They al­lowed us to build a won­der­ful, sus­tain­able re­sort, and they’re just as im­por­tant as most green cer­ti­fi­ca­tion guide­lines set out for all of us to fol­low. We es­tab­lished a check­list and rated prod­ucts by six mea­sure­ments: VOCs (volatile or­ganic com­pounds), qual­ity, value, im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment, the sup­plier’s en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy, and their rep­u­ta­tion and cus­tomer ser­vice.” TL Peo­ple ar­gue that do­ing a green build or ren­o­va­tion is too ex­pen­sive. What’s your ar­gu­ment for eco-friendly cost-ef­fec­tive­ness? LA“Build­ing green is the right thing to do and more cost-ef­fec­tive for our en­vi­ron­ment, but it is not cheap. E’Terra was more ex­pen­sive than we first an­tic­i­pated.”

TL How has the res­i­den­tial build­ing and con­struc­tion in­dus­try changed when it comes to green build­ings and ren­o­va­tions? Are sup­pli­ers of­fer­ing more choices? LA“Some­what, but get­ting wood was very dif­fi­cult. To earn the cer­ti­fied wood credit un­der the LEED sys­tem, for ex­am­ple, wood must be stamped as orig­i­nat­ing from the For­est Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil (FSC). The hard­est thing was to find enough cer­ti­fied FSC wood, which is ironic in a coun­try with a ma­jor wood in­dus­try! I bought wood cer­ti­fied un­der the Sus­tain­able Forestry Ini­tia­tive (SFI), most of which comes from On­tario and the eastern United States. You still have to re­search and look for green prod­ucts.” TL The U.S. and west­ern Canada seem to be fur­ther ad­vanced in terms of op­tions, sup­plies and ex­am­ples of green build­ings. Why do you think On­tario and eastern Canada are so far be­hind? SM“For starters, E’Terra is the first eco-lodge built in a colder cli­mate. Costs, weather and avail­abil­ity of year-round ac­tiv­i­ties all play a part in this dilemma, as does at­ti­tude. West­ern Canada still has a home­steading at­ti­tude, and that makes for in­de­pen­dent build­ing projects.” TL What can the con­sumer do to as­sist in mak­ing On­tario greener? LA“Use wood as a main con­struc­tion medium, be­cause of its sus­tain­abil­ity. Use en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly glues and coat­ings to min­i­mize of­f­gassing. Use lo­cal prod­ucts, and re­tail­ers and in­dus­tries that sup­port the lo­cal econ­omy and re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts as­so­ci­ated with trans­porta­tion. Con­sider us­ing na­ture as part of a nat­u­ral cool­ing sys­tem by plant­ing more trees; con­sider ra­di­ant heat­ing dur­ing colder months. Buy or­ganic pro­duce and lo­cally farmed goods.”

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