THE DISCOVERY & GREENING OF AVALON

On September 24, 1995, while searching Southern Ontario for that "perfect next place to live", we came across "the perfect next place to live for a long, long time".  After almost 3 years of planning, waiting, worrying, documenting, and "real estating", we moved in on June 10, 1998. 

With $19 worth of software, and a lot of coffee, we designed (3 versions) of Avalon. Pat became our banker and Arnold became our builder - and we are still friends with both.  Friends and family all took up paint brushes and shovels.

From the first moment we saw this place, which we call Avalon Clearview, we knew it was special.  We have made it our business to keep it that way.  In 1999 we opened the B&B and set up the stained glass studio and our office. 

Our official dedication was January 1, 2000 - the first day of the year, the century and the millennium.


> top

NIAGARA ESCARPMENT

Quick geography lesson:  the Niagara Escarpment is a ribbon of beauty running north from the world famous Niagara Falls to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.  It is designated by the United Nations as a World Biosphere Reserve - one of only thirteen in Canada.  It is controlled and protected by a department of the Ontario government - the Niagara Escarpment Commission. 

Avalon is situated in an area of "NEC Protection" - the second highest level of protection within the Escarpment lands.  To make the property even more special, we also back onto and overlook the Mad River valley, and the Devil's Glen Provincial Park.  It is a knock-out combination.

> top

THE STEWARDSHIP PLAN

Part of our application to the NEC was the creation of a 10 Year Land Stewardship Plan - dealing with our plans and commitments to the eight different eco-system elements on this property.  We have followed our plan, with:

  • limiting the "terra-forming" needed for the building project
  • extensive landscaping with natural stone and indigenous trees, bushes & flowers
  • to provide homes for the little critters, leaving much of the grass area uncut and leaving fallen trees and limbs in their natural area
  • tree plantings with spruce wind breaks, cedar bush, lilacs, serviceberries and birch clusters

There are still a couple of key elements of our Stewardship Plan to be done:

  • "furnishing" several "outdoor living rooms" where people can relax with the views
  • replacing several dilapidated out-buildings with small greenhouses

> top

DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION

We designed Avalon to be as energy efficient as possible.  Although we investigated PV solar, wind and water power - they were not feasible for us at that time.  We did however, use the concept of "passive solar heating", along with geothermal "furnaces", wood and gas fireplaces, extensive insulation and heat-recovery-ventilation. 

Another major element in our drive to re-use and be efficient, was to keep the original brick home that was on the property when we bought it.  Our building project was an major addition, instead of a replacement.

Another example was extensive use of cedar for roofing and decks, instead of asphalt shingles and treated lumber.

> top

HEATING & COOLING

Our builder, Arnold Anderson, introduced us to the Water Furnace residential geothermal furnaces and we selected these units, instead of oil, propane or hydro.  Although it cost us 50% more initially (and there were no government rebate programs then), we feel it was the best decision we made in the entire project.  We do not have extensive "before & after" calculations, but we estimate we have already "paid off" the increased cost of the system via the wonderfully low operating costs.

Our two units provide radiant in-floor heating in the B&B area, forced air heating and air conditioning for the entire building, and pre-heat all our hot water.  Other than the minimal hydro used to run the system, all the energy comes from the sun, keeping the earth at a constant 6°C to 8°C.  We have about a mile of piping in the ground, "harvesting" this energy - we love it.

> top

LIGHTING

Lighting can be a major user of electricity. Knowing that we would be displaying stained glass and would have B&B guests "at the switch", we wanted all our lighting systems to be as efficient as possible. So we:

  • use dimmer switches for all incandescent and low-voltage lighting
  • use fluorescent lighting for all outside and utility-area lighting
  • are experimenting with compact fluorescent bulbs, with built-in dimmers, for living areas
  • have transitioned to LED based lighting where ever possible - so far Christmas decorative lighting and PV solar powered lighting for the driveways

> top

ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY

Our area is just so lovely, it makes us crazy when we see the results of people tossing garbage from their cars.  Our choices were to complain about it, or, do something about it ... so ...

In 1999, we adopted 2.3 km of Simcoe Road 124 right in front of Avalon (what a coincidence).  We go out in spring and fall, and clean up the mess.  It makes us feel good and it makes the road look good.  We love to have friends, family and guests help us.  It's an easy and real way to contribute.  Click here if you are interested in the details, or getting involved - helping out.

> top

REDUCE, RE-USE, RECYCLE

Some of the things we have done, do, or will do:

  • re-used the original house on the property  (yes - that's it)
  • used recycled hemlock (old barn wood from Quebec) for a major flooring project
  • we separate and recycle all waste collected from our guest rooms
  • we are investigating new water treatment systems to reduce or eliminate bottled water
  • we try to use local produce and farmer's markets as much as possible
  • all left-over guest soaps, shampoos, lotions are taken to a local shelter
  • scrap wood or other materials than cannot be recycled go down to our fire pit by the pond - for bonfires and marshmallow roasting
  • we use pond water for the sprinkler system for the lawns and gardens

> top

SPREADING THE WORD

We love to show our guests and friends around Avalon, letting them see/touch/feel the things we have done and the eco-friendly systems that we use.  We make people listen to the music of Joni Mitchell.  Just kidding.

So far, we have been successful in guiding three other households (that we know of) to the wonders of geothermal heating/cooling systems.

We are also thinking that our "early adoption" of PV solar combined with LED lighting will be of interest to a lot of people. 

> top

  © 2007 Avalon Clearview Studio B&B, All Rights Reserved
1651 County Rd 124 705-444-8541 or toll-free1-866-226-6621