A Nova Scotia-made house in a box will board a ferry for Saint John, N.B. on Thursday.
The house, a series of natural jute fibre panels, will then be packed onto a container ship and transported to the Dominican Republic.
“We’re building houses without cutting down trees,” said Glen Aylward, president of Aylward Fibreglass Ltd.
“It’s a totally green house that will be off the grid with a 12-volt system using wind and photovoltaic power.”
The Shelburne company has teamed up with Nova Advanced Composite Solutions Inc. of Bedford to make eco-friendly panels for the homes.
Aylward Fibreglass, which also makes hulls for catamarans and commercial fishing boats, has the Atlantic Canada licence for the clean-tech panels.
Once the house in a box arrives at its destination in late March, Aylward will fly to the Dominican Republic to set up the roughly 500 square-foot home on the Caribbean country’s northern coast.
“We’ll take it out of the container and just assemble the four walls, roof, interior walls and windows,” he said.
While the cost of a house varies depending on the size and interior partitions, Aylward said it is roughly $10 a square foot.
“The cost is very comparable (to a normal house), but there are a lot more benefits. It’s a three-inch wall, but its insulation value is better than a six-inch wall of a typical home.
“When it is assembled it is a monolithic structure because it is all glassed together, so it can’t move.”
A similar house made by a licensee in Spain was able to withstand an earthquake simulator, he said.
Aylward said he was approached by Nova Advanced Composite Solutions to produce the panels.
“We’ve made insulated panels for doors on boats for years and it just seemed to be a good fit.”
In addition to the jute panels and fibreglass hulls for commercial fishing boats, Aylward Fibreglass is also designing a mould for a 150-passenger catamaran in partnership with GPSC Yachts Inc. of Middle West Pubnico.
The diversification has paid off for Aylward Fibreglass, which has seen sales double to about $1.3 million from $500,000 three years ago.
The company now has eight workers in Shelburne and 10 in Clark’s Harbour.
Still, Aylward said access to capital has been difficult for the business, which he launched in 1997.
However, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has stepped in with an $80,000 interest-free loan that has helped the company construct a 4,200-square-foot building adjacent to its existing facility at the Shelburne Industrial Park.
Aylward said the building uses a vacuum infusion process that ensures no harmful odours are released.
“The resin fusion is all done under a vacuum, so the process itself is green and the end product is green as well.”
While Aylward Fibreglass is exploring new export-oriented products, the company is still focused on building durable seaworthy fishing vessels.
“We’re building a 63-footer for a Newfoundland fisherman for scallops and crab,” Aylward said. “That’s still an important part of our business.”
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Source and Photo: Chronicle Herald