Professional contractor and TV host Mike Holmes Jr. shares his insight and advice on the importance of sustainable construction and renovations.
Why is sustainability important to you as a carpenter and renovator?
As a carpenter, a contractor, and someone who has a great appreciation for the environment, sustainability is extremely important to me. I see a lot of waste in my industry. From houses being poorly built to furniture being cheaply made and not built to last, I see a lot of “flavour of the year” attitude. Too many people get caught up in current trends that fade and then want to grab on to the next one, thinking of building material as disposable. We need to start thinking more in terms of longevity and sustainability. We have the knowledge and ability to build healthy homes that last longer, but a lot of people only focus on the finishes of their home. As someone who appreciates the outdoors and has seen a change in the state of the environment in my lifetime, it’s integral that we start thinking more sustainably.
What advice would you give to woodworkers who are looking to be more sustainable?
To any woodworker who wants to be more sustainable, I’d suggest trying to upcycle materials where you can. If you see a tree that has recently died, consider having it milled up and dried by a local sawmill. If you can keep your shopping for wood locally, support your local trades, and follow the natural life cycle of trees around you, you’ll certainly be a part of a greater impact.
What steps can people take to be more environmentally conscious when renovating their homes?
The most environmentally-conscious thing you can do when renovating your home is to work from the outside in. If you build an energy-efficient home that won’t mould and is structurally sound with proper mechanical, then you won’t have to renovate it as much over the years. The idea is to build a home that you can be born in, grow old in, and pass on to the next generation. Another thing we need to do is steer away from design trends and put some thought into a design that you want to live in for a longer period of time. Paint is easy to change, but when you start getting into moving walls, mechanical, and cabinets, then you get into a lot more waste and money.
Why do you believe it is so important to support sustainable Canadian wood and forestry?
We need to think sustainably in everything we do. As our population continues to grow, we require more resources from the earth. When we start to take more than the earth can reproduce, then we have a real problem. Personally, I think we’re already past that point, which is why I think it’s even more essential that we think sustainably in everything we do.