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Home Research and Innovation Living Building Challenge

Living Building Challenge

We're building one of the greenest homes on earth

“The Confluence” — a living building in southern Alberta

SAIT’s Green Building Technologies (GBT), Woodpecker European Timber Framing and an Alberta family have partnered to construct a one-of-a-kind home in the foothills of southern Alberta — one that produces more energy than it uses, captures water on site and creates a positive impact on its people and environment.

Together, they hope “The Confluence” will achieve the highest possible certification through the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building rating program and sustainable design framework. They're aiming for the home to be the fifth in the world — and the first of its kind — to do it.


2021 Forest Stewardship Council Leadership Award
2021 Canada Green Building Council Awards, Green Building Excellence,
  Inspiring Home
2021 Prairie Wood Design Awards, Residential Wood Design
2021 Emerald Awards, Infrastructure
2020 BILD Awards (Calgary Region), Best Innovation: Process, Idea,
  Product, Technology or Design



Explore the home

Explore the 2,238 square-foot, three-level home nestled in the foothills of Alberta, Canada, just west of the town of Cochrane.

Photos courtesy of Pavel Hájek.

Confluence (kän-ˌflü-ən(t)s):

a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point.

"The Confluence" represents a confluence of natural and built environments, the Rocky Mountains and the prairies, new and salvaged materials, and human and environmental health — to name a few.

Front view of the house, which is painted green, featuring a wraparound deck. You can see the solar panels lining the roof, and the house is surrounded by trees in the Alberta foothills.

The house that green tech built

To achieve the gold standard in sustainability goes beyond installing solar panels and low-flush toilets. GBT and the Centre for Innovative Information Technology Solutions — both divisions of SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) department — are applying emerging green technologies that could change the way we build homes.

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What is the Living Building Challenge?

The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is the world’s highest standard for building green, administered by the International Living Future Institute headquartered in Seattle, Washington. To achieve full certification, projects must adhere to seven areas of sustainability. After construction, projects must be monitored for 12 months to prove sustainable performance — a requirement setting it apart from other green rating systems.

A leaf graphic that says, "Beauty: Celebrating design that uplifts the human spirit."

A leaf graphic that says: "Energy: Relying only on current solar income."

A leaf that says, "Equity: Supporting a just and equitable world."

A leaf that says, "Health and happiness: Creating environments that optimize physical and psychological health and well being."

A leaf that says, "Materials: Endorsing products that are safe for all species through time."

A leaf that says, "Place: Restoring a healthy interrelationship with nature."

A leaf that says, "Water: Creating developments that operate within the water balance of a given place and climate."

Meet the project team

Joleen and Gerton Molenaar looking at each other during an interview being filmed on their property.


Gerton and Joleen Molenaar wanted to build a home that not only sheltered their family but helped inspire a greener world. They learned about the Living Building Challenge and approached SAIT and Woodpecker European Timber Framing to enlist the expertise needed to execute the complex challenge.

The Green Building Technologies team from SAIT stands on a staircase holding their wooden birdhouses made from scrap wood from the project.

SAIT Green Building Technologies

A division of SAIT's Applied Research and Innovation Services , GBT has worked with industry partners to develop green technology, programs, systems and services since 2008. Contact GBT.

  • Research Manager, Melanie Ross
  • Principal Investigator, Tracey Chala
  • Project Coordinator, Hayley Puppato
  • Systems Design and Engineering, Rob Avis
  • Dashboard and Data Analysis, Tyler Willson
  • Architectural Technologist, Alexandra Kodyra
Members of the project team sit on the front steps of the house and smile.

Woodpecker European Timber Framing

Based in Canmore, Alberta, Woodpecker is a full-service design manufacturer that offers innovative and experienced timber framing.

  • Owner, Peter Graul (pictured above)
  • Site Superintendent, Alex Philippo
  • Site Superintendent, Dale Klassen

"red-listed" toxic chemicals to avoid when building


of construction waste diverted from landfills


salvaged or reclaimed products installed


renewable energy produced on site

A student experience like no other

A number of SAIT alumni and 19 students from a wide-range of programs helped bring “The Confluence” to fruition through practicum and capstone opportunities.

See what opportunities await you as part of your hands-on, world-class education. Explore our programs and get ready to make your mark.

Protect, conserve and preserve the environment with a career as an environmental technologist, working in government or industries such as transportation, water treatment or chemical manufacturers.
Start a career as an architectural technologist, construction coordinator or graphic designer in our one-of-a-kind indoor house-building lab, with a comprehensive program that includes hands-on training in drafting, design and building systems.
Water management is vital to environmental sustainability. Create solutions for global and local issues with a career in the management of one of the world's largest resources.
Learn to design and manage the construction of buildings, roads and bridges through hands-on civil engineering technology courses that cover structural design, construction management and engineering tech.

Special thanks

SAIT is grateful for the funding support of this project from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, Alberta Innovates, Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, United Nations Association of Canada and Clean Foundation. Thank you to NorSask Forest Products LP for your generous in-kind donation.

Build what’s next

Being a solution provider with industry is part of SAIT’s 104-year history. Whatever your organization’s vision, we’d love to help you get there. Connect with our team in Applied Research and Innovation Services. Project inquiries can be directed to

Learn more on "The Confluence" project website.



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