About GREENbilt House

GREENbilt House was the first GREENbilt project.  Built in 2010 in the Bronte Harbour area of Oakville, this eco-friendly house was carefully planned over two years so that it would comprehensively reflect the philosophy of the company, and could be built very quickly.  It went from foundation to occupancy permit in just over three months.  Key objectives were to build a green certified home for the same price as a conventional custom home, to use the Passive House approach to green building, and to reflect the beliefs and values of Nineteenth century Ontario farmers who lived sustainably by necessity.  They built homes that worked with nature to keep them comfortable, and used resources such as water and energy sparingly.

Just like early Ontario houses, GREENbilt House is oriented to be south facing, is clad with masonry brick to help keep the house cool, and has an in-ground cold cellar that uses the natural coolness of the earth to help preserve food and wine. These features are among the many aspects of the house that make it a good example of a Passive approach to green building.  Without the use of  “active” energy production such as geo-thermal or solar, the house just naturally stays warm or cool (depending on the season) because of the way it was designed.  The southern exposure combined with the placement of the windows and the Georgian centerhall design bring natural light into the center of the main and second floor year round.  But in summer the light is not accompanied by heat creation due to large overhangs over the south-facing windows and sun shades on the western windows.  These reduce or stop the sun’s rays from striking the windows, preventing heat creation.

Like early Ontario homes, this eco-friendly home is made of resilient materials and is expected to last hundreds of years.  The interior design adopted traditional designs, materials and color schemes to create a timeless look that will not need to be remodeled every decade as fads change.

Part of sustainable living is pedestrian living that involves minimizing car trips, supporting local business, and becoming part of a supportive community.  The large front porch on GREENbilt House encourages occupants to spend leisure time facing the street, which encourages getting to know the neighbors and sharing local news.   Just like historic homes, the carriage house (garage) is in the backyard rather than in the front. 

Greenbilt House - front Greenbilt House Verandah Greenbilt House Back
Greenbilt House Kitchen Greenbilt House Staircase Greenbilt House Center Greenbilt House Family Room

Housing Sustainability

GREENbilt House was recognized as the Green Custom Home of the Year in Ontario in 2011 after it achieved GreenHouse certification by EnerQuality.  It has been featured on the front of the Toronto Star Homes Section as a new paradigm in green housing in 2011, and has been the subject of many articles in the media. 

There are almost 100 small green features incorporated into GREENbilt House in order to achieve a high level of energy efficiency and resource conservation without the use of leading-edge green materials (which add to the expense of many green buildings).  Some of the interior finishes are materials that were diverted from the landfill by Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.   In one case, the plumbing fixture purchased from the ReStore was brand new and still in its original box. This approach allowed GREENbilt Homes to build the house for about the same price as a conventional, executive-quality home, which was a little over $200 per square foot excluding land and design costs.

Some examples of the types of green features in GREENbilt House are:

Energy Efficiency: 

  • Many small improvements to a conventional Heating, Cooling and Ventilation mechanical system that combine to create great savings in energy utilization while maintaining a comfortable indoor environment
  • Radiant floor heating
  • Heat recovery system
  • Passive air intake pre-conditioning
  • Hot water recovery system 
  • Instantaneous hot water system
  • Windows rated for northern climates
  • Lots of insulation with the type and amount varying by location and need
  • Lighting with LEDs, Xenon, CFL bulbs
  • Motion sensors for bathroom lighting

Water Conservation:

  • Low flow facets and showerheads
  • Dual flush toilets
  • High efficiency washing machine
  • High efficiency dishwasher

Healthy Indoor Air Quality:

  • Minimal use of stains, resins or glues in any aspect of the home construction
  • Low VOC paints throughout
  • No-toxicity carpeting made with a high percentage of recycled material
  • Millwork boxes formaldehyde free

Recycled, Sustainably Sourced or Local Materials:

  • Sustainably source certified lumber and wood flooring
  • Quartz kitchen counters with a high percentage of recycled beer bottles
  • Cork flooring with a high percentage of recycled wine cork
  • Recycled plumbing fixtures
  • Recycled granite bathroom countertops
  • American Clay wall treatments made of recycled marble
  • Interface Floor recycled carpet

Gardening Sustainability

Initially, because of cost, the only landscaping that was done on the property was a professional installation in the front yard.  This was because the 56 x 200 foot lot had not been maintained for a long period of time.   Knee-high weeds were growing out of hard Bronte clay – a nightmare to try to reclaim.  In addition to Dandelions, the property was infested with invasive Buckthorn and Garlic Mustard.

After less than two years, the front grass was not able to establish itself in the clay soil and it died.  GREENbilt owners, Mike Manning and Catherine Marshall, decided that the whole property needed to be landscaped as a showcase of green gardening.  By 2016, this massive project was complete and the sustainability and uniqueness of the garden was recognized by the Oakville Horticultural Society, which included the GREENbilt Garden on its prestigious annual garden Tour, Secret Gardens of Oakville.


Features of GREENbilt Garden include:

Water management and conservation

  • Solar panels running rain barrels that water hanging baskets
  • a 90-gallon rain barrel watering the front garden through an underground irrigation drip system at the plant roots
  • rainbarrel/solar panel system meets the extensive water needs hanging baskets and flower pots
  • a smaller rainbarrel with a short hose to water a new Butterfly garden that is not covered by the irrigation system
  • permeable pavers throughout that return rainwater directly to the water table rather than sending it to storm sewers where it mixes with pollutants.
  • A French well underground to drain water away from the house during a heavy rainfall 
  • Extensive hardscaping and mulched areas rather than grass to reduce the amount of water required

Plant selection

  • Experimentation with hardy, drought and sun resistant groundcovers to see what thrives
    • Thyme
    • Sedum
    • Ivy
    • Bugleweed
    • Creeping Jenny
    • Creeping Charlie
    • Virginia Creeper
  • Selection of very hardy shrubs and trees
  • Extensive use of river rocks and mulch to cover a thickly weed-infested back yard
    • No use of herbicides
    • Slowly reclaiming sections of the yard by planting in the mulch
    • Dandelions, Garlic Mustard from abandoned house next door
    • Buckthorn being slowly phased out

Support the Eco-system


  • Attract and feed butterflies with a dense butterfly garden with mature milkweed and other butterfly attractors
  • Have strong butterfly attractor flowers in raised gardens in front yard
  • Milkweed and attractor flowers in back garden

Bees and insects

  • Bee friendly habitat
  • No use of pesticides
  • Bee hotel (designed by Toronto bee activist Paul Dowsett of Sustainable TO)


  • Birdfeeders front and back
  • Special squirrel proof birdfeeder pole
GREENbilt Homes believes that GREENbilt House is a model of cost effective conservation and serves a social purpose as a Green demonstration project.  Tours of GREENbilt House and GREENbilt Garden are by request.  Please contact office@greenbilthomes.ca for my information.   View our press release...


Greenbilt House Front Garden Greenbilt House Side Yard Greenbilt House Back Garden Greenbilt House Rain Barrels Greenbilt House Carriage House Greenbilt House Garden Canopy