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For British Columbia builder Marc Brillon, construction is a family gene.

As a teenager in northeastern Ontario, he honed his skills alongside his uncles and other contractors, learning invaluable lessons in teamwork and efficiency. 

“They were good at what they did and had grit and stamina,” Marc recalls fondly.

When he was 17 years old, Marc left home to attend university. And after pursuing a biology degree and briefly working as a wildlife biologist, Marc’s passion for construction quickly resurfaced. 

Dissatisfied with the wasteful practices he observed in the industry however, he enrolled in building technology studies at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), hoping he would learn how to build better. 

“When I started working, there was a lot of waste,” Marc reflects. “Buildings were being built as cheaply as possible, and we still see it today.”

For Marc Brillon, construction is a family gene.

Less Waste, More Savings

In 2008, Marc and his wife Lara founded Ellenwood Homes, and shortly afterwards they left Vancouver for a small, interior B.C. city called Nelson.

“We didn’t want to raise our son in the city,” Marc says. “It was a bit unknown. We were a new company in a new town.” 

From the outset, Marc and Lara focused on crafting energy-efficient, comfortable homes that would minimize waste and maximize efficiency.

“A healthy interior, indoor air quality, water conservation—these were always something I wanted to do right from the beginning,” Marc explains. “We attract clients who share these values.”

Recognizing the environmental toll of traditional building practices, Marc unapologetically advocates for the adoption of energy-efficient construction. And he wants the homeowners to know that monthly expenses will drop significantly if they decide to purchase a home that is built this way. 

“It always makes sense to lower energy bills,” he says. “There’s an upfront investment, but it pays back quickly, and you end up with a more comfortable home.”

“It always makes sense to lower you energy bills.”

Moving Away from Methane Makes Sense

In British Columbia, gas used in buildings currently accounts for 12% of carbon pollution—making it the province’s third largest source of carbon pollution in the province. And depending on the city, that number can soar up to 40%.

To Marc these percentages are alarming but not surprising, and to him it illustrates why British Columbians should support the provincial government’s Zero Carbon Step Code, a forward-looking building standard designed to reduce carbon pollution and promote energy-efficient construction practices. But for Marc, it’s not just the environment that people should be worried about. 

“It’s proven that gas stoves are bad for your interior health and for the interior air quality and your health and everything,” Marc says. “We never heat with gas furnaces anymore. We haven’t done it for ten years. Start introducing the zero carbon step code sooner than later and just go for it.”

Marc hopes that communities and companies will do what they can to reduce carbon  and methane (natural gas) pollution by building quality homes that use highly efficient electric systems. For a province with a ready supply of clean hydroelectricity, moving away from methane gas makes sense.

“We can reduce carbon pollution to near zero in our buildings,” Marc says optimistically. “There’s a lot of great work being done, and I’m hopeful for the future.”

Ellenwood homes has a project manager, construction manager and 17 other employees.

It's Really That Simple

Marc is committed to reducing carbon pollution and emphasizes the importance of transitioning away from methane gas. 

While he acknowledges there is resistance from some builders, Marc encourages industry professionals to embrace change and access support.

“There’s plenty of education available,” he notes. “You can hire a consultant to help you. Or you can work closely with your energy advisor.”

Ultimately, Marc envisions a future where sustainable, affordable housing is accessible to all, including his teenage son. And with hope and determination, he’ll continue to do his part, building one energy-efficient home at a time. 

“You have to treat a house as a whole system that’s high-performing in terms of energy use,” Marc says. “Having a comfortable, energy-efficient home that pays for itself? It’s really that simple.”

“Having a comfortable, energy-efficient home that pays for itself? It’s really that simple.”