On the west coast of Nova Scotia in the tiny community of Meteghan River, sits a tidy little beach house that just might help save the planet from the coming ravages of climate change. The brainchild of Dave Saulnier and Joel German, the beach house is one of those elegant approaches where problems are re-defined as opportunities.
Like many coastal communities, Meteghan River will face severe weather in the decades ahead as the climate worsens. Sturdier shelter that can withstand severe storms is urgently needed, especially on the east coast of North America where hurricane-force winds are becoming an annual occurrence. At the same time, unwanted plastic is piling up in our landfills and littering our beaches. The solution? Use the unwanted plastic to build more durable shelter.
With a $109,000 repayable loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Saulnier and German, built the demonstration home using 612,000 recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Reduced to pellets and injected with a gas to turn them into foam, the bottles were re-constituted as building panels to assemble the beach house.
The result is a structure that can resist moisture, fatigue, corrosion and rot and is 2.3 times more energy-efficient than homes built using traditional methods. However, the real eye-popper is the ability of the panels to withstand windstorms. At Exova testing facilities in Mississauga, Ontario, they withstood 326-mp/h (524-km/h) sustained wind force, which is twice the strength of a Category 5 hurricane.
Through their company, JD Composites, Saulnier and German hope to export the technology to countries in the Caribbean and South America, as well as into the United States. Many of the processes and methods used actually come from the boat building industry in which the two partners have worked for many years.
The beach house is currently up for sale, but if it doesn’t sell, Saulnier and German say they’ll list it on airbnb to help spread the word.