Build with Rise Articles

I am very grateful that in the fall I met the team from Build with Rise in Fredericton, NB while at the National Trust Heritage Conference. It was a chance meeting, and a great connection of like minds. Matt Daigle has put together a great team that include Melissa Rappaport Schifman, the editor of the Insights & Stories. Discussions with both of them turned into me becoming a regular contributor to the website, for which I am grateful and proud.

Build with Rise helps homeowners learn about better solutions for their homes, through daily great articles, amazing data base of sustainable features for homes, and a collection of builders and architects from across North America who are showcasing their services and talents on the site. This comprehensive approach to creating a one stop education, information and solution website resonates well with me and I think my clients will find value in it. Check it out here.

Building Biology New-build Consultants

Myself, along with Paula Baker-Laporte of EcoNest, working with the International Institute for Building Biology & Ecology created the newest certification stream for Building Biologists with the Building Biology New-build Consultants (BBNC).

This program will equip you with the comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the vitally unique Building Biology-based, state-of-the-art, scientific methods and practices for designing, building/renovating, and equipping (furnishings and finishes) a dwelling for living and/or working that supports human health and wellness. Your learning will include protocols for vetting materials that convey into a completed structure toxic contributors that adversely affect (due to their manufacturing methods and content) human health, and for identifying and specifying construction processes that do not implement nor exacerbate such harmful threats and effects upon the structure’s occupants. This program also examines the potential and value of Building Biology principles on the larger community/city planning level.

We have had builders, architects, interior designers, property developers, property managers, real estate agents, and people wanting to build their own healthy house take the first courses last December. We are proud to announce that our first certified graduates have completed all of the courses and final project to earn the certification!

Interested? For more information, click here.

Healthy Homes, Natural Construction and Building Science Video

​I am grateful that I had the opportunity last year to work with some great people and organizations to help make this fun video on healthy housing, natural construction and building science. I worked the International Institute for Building Biology & Ecology (IBE) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). I would also like to give a shout out to Brian Fuentes, whose beautiful home we used to film this piece. Brian designed the home and is the principal of Fuentes Design.

This video is one part of 8 and you can find the rest at the IBE website above. Check them out as they are all different aspects of how to create your healthy house.

Surprises During Inspections

Have you ever had it happen to you? You know, where you are doing a designated substance survey on a closed up building that is going to be demolished and you walk into the boarded up building and as your eyes adjust to the darkness you notice two bodies lying on the floor? No? Well I have.

Turns out the fire department had been doing some training in the building with smoke cans to practice how to get people out of a smoke filled building, I guess they forgot the training dummies that they were using just inside the door.

Super glad I didn’t scream like the little kid in my head out loud. Also glad the guy letting me in didn’t scream either as it would have just been bad all around.

Super funny afterwards; after my heart left my throat that is! ​

Fire Training Dummies
Fire Training Dummies

Healthy Natural Cleaning Recipes

​These are from my old website, and it was one of the most popular pages on the site. Please share and enjoy!

The following recipes were taken from CBC’s Marketplace website.


There are many ingredients in your own kitchen or bathroom cupboard that could easily be substituted for cleaners. More and more people are looking for natural ways of cleaning as their concerns grow over chemicals in cleaners that can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches and dizziness. Many common household cleaners contain alcohol, ammonia, bleach, formaldehyde and lye, substances that can cause nausea, vomiting, inflammation and burning of the eyes and throat. Environmentalists have linked these ingredients with neurological, liver and kidney damage, asthma and cancer. There are hundreds of homegrown recipes for green cleaning; here are some of the basic ingredients and combinations you can try:


Any of these ingredients can be safely mixed together. Experiment and find out what works best for you. Store mixtures in spray bottles and label them.

White Vinegar: Mix with water and you can clean windows, any glass, countertops and tile.

Baking Soda: Mixed with water this becomes an all purpose cleaner. Scour sinks, tubs and even sprinkle over carpets as a deodorizer.

Salt: great as an abrasive for cleaning pots and pans.

Lemon Juice: use as bleach in laundry and on kitchen surfaces. Combine with vinegar and water and you have a nice de-clogger.

Olive oil: Mix with vinegar and use as furniture polish.


Drain cleaner: Pour 125 ml of baking soda down the sink and add at least a cup of vinegar. Put the cover on the drain and wait a few minutes. Finish by rinsing through with a mixture of boiling water and salt.

Oven cleaner: Make a paste of baking soda and water. First, scratch off burnt spots with a scouring brush and then apply the paste and scrub.

Kitchen cleanser: Use baking soda on non-scratch surfaces and vinegar and water mixture on all others.

Window cleaner: Put 75 ml of vinegar for every litre of water in a spray bottle.

Glass cleaner: Blend 75 ml of vinegar, a spoonful of cornstarch and a litre of warm water. Apply with a sponge and wipe dry. No streaks!

Toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda around the inside of the toilet bowl and clean with toilet brush. Also drop some white vinegar into the bowl and let sit a few minutes before cleaning with the brush.

Tub and tile cleaner: Mix 400 ml baking soda, 125 ml liquid soap, 125 ml water and a few spoonfuls of vinegar. Apply, scrub and wipe.

Mildew remover: Vinegar and salt.

Silver polish: Put a sheet of aluminum foil into a plastic or glass bowl. Sprinkle the foil with salt and baking soda and fill bowl with warm water. Soak your silver in the bowl and tarnish migrates to the foil. Dry and buff.

Crystal: Try a mixture of vinegar, water and a small amount of baking soda. Pour on a soft cloth and rub.

Brass cleaner: Cut a lemon in half, sprinkle it with salt and rub the lemon on the metal. Buff with a cloth.

Copper cleaning: Make a paste with equal parts white vinegar, flour and salt, leave on for an hour and then buff with a cloth.

Rust removal: Vinegar can help remove rust on nuts and bolts and other mineral deposits such as calcium deposits

Toothpaste: Diminishes glass scratches, lifts crayon marks off the floor.

The following recipes were taken from Athena Thompson’s book Homes That Heal and Those That Don’t New Society Publishers, c.2004. Reprinted with permission.


baking soda

essential oil (optional)

Half fill a plastic flip top or stainless steel shaker with baking soda. Add 15- 20 drops of essential oil (try lemon, thyme or lavender). Stir. Fill the shaker almost to the top with more baking soda. Put the lid on tightly and shake to mix.

To use: sprinkle on counters or sink, then wipe with a damp rag or cellulose sponge. Rinse well. Don’t use too much or you will need to keep rinsing and wiping.


2 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp Borax

16 ounces hot, filtered water

¼ cup liquid soap

10-15 drops of essential oil, such as lavender or lemon (optional)

First, mix the vinegar with the borax in a 16-ounce clean squirt bottle. Fill with hot, filtered water and shake until all the borax has dissolved. Next, add the liquid soap, followed by the essential oil. Shake again to mix. To use: squirt and wipe.


1 2/3 cups baking soda

½ cup liquid soap

½ cup filtered water

2 tbsp white vinegar

Mix the baking soda and liquid soap in a bowl. Dilute with 1/2 cup of water. Add the vinegar last. Mix with a fork until any lumps are gone. It should have a pourable consistency; if not, add more water. Pour into a 16-oz. squeeze container (the kind with a squirt flip-top cap). Keep the cap on, as this mixture will dry out easily. Shake well before using. Add more water if it dries out.

To use: squirt onto tile, tub, sink, or toilet bowl and scrub. Rinse well. If any baking soda residue remains (which will look like powder), use a little vinegar and water to rinse, and next time use less baking soda in the recipe.


Here is a great non-toxic and very effective way to rid your bathroom (or any room) of germs.

1 cup filtered water

1 tsp pure essential oil of lavender

Place water in 16-oz. clean squirt bottle, add lavender oil, and shake vigorously to mix.

To use: squirt on surfaces and allow to stand for at least 15 minutes, or don’t rinse at all. This recipe keeps indefinitely. Use on toilet seats, countertops, doorknobs, and cutting boards – anywhere germs like to lurk. Lavender is more antiseptic than phenol, which is the industry standard.

The Following Recipes were collected by Building Biologist Jeanne McLaughlin.

Soapy Garlic Garden Spray for weeds

1 head of garlic and 2 cups of boiling water and let it sit overnight

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp liquid soap

For Ants - use apple cider vinegar, lavender, baking soda or powdered sugar applied to ant hills and trails

Blood, chocolate, mud, coffee stains and minldew - Borax

Wine Stains - Baking soda and corn starch

Ink Stains - use salt, then lemon and then rinse

Grease Stains - use Baking soda

Unclogging Drains - 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar and pour down the drain. Plug the drain. Wait 10 minutes and pour boiling water down to flush

Fabric softener - 9 oz of vinegar or baking soda with water

Disinfect Toilets - vinegar, lemon or tea tree oil

Bleach - use apple cider vinegar instead

Furniture Polish - 1 part lemon juice with 2 parts olive oil

Flies - Pot of basil in kitchen

Moths - Lavender or cedar

Chemicals out of New Clothes - Powdered milk and warm water for soaking new clothes before washing

Great Article About Stephen and Green Audits

Stephen Collette and Green Team from Holy Trinity Anglican Thornhill Ontario
Stephen Collette and Green Team from Holy Trinity Anglican Thornhill Ontario

The Anglican Diocese of Toronto wrote a great article about Stephen’s work with the great folks at Holy Trinity​ Anglican Church in Thornhill. You can find the article here. They are a great group of people who are making strides in improving their environmental footprint and energy savings. Their efforts will save them money, freeing that money up for mission work and outreach moving forward.

Allback Linseed Oil

While attending the National Trust for Canada’s 2017 Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Sonja and Hans Allback from Sweden, the creators of Allback Organic Linseed Paint company. These two came into this field by becoming ill from building materials, something I can relate to personally. They learned about the traditional methods of historic preservation and healthy finishes and created the world’s leading, highest quality materials to make that a reality!

Michael and John from Living Rooms in Kingston, are the national representatives for Allback and brilliant gentlemen in their own right, having a store front, a web store and have learned the true art of how to create healthy, historic and natural spaces with the right products and skills! To learn more, check out their website at Solvent Free Paint.

Stephen Collette with the Allbacks and Solvent Free Paint Team
Stephen Collette with the Allbacks and Solvent Free Paint Team

MC at IBE’s 2017 Healthy Building Conference

It was a great weekend in Wisconsin at the 30th celebration of Building Biology in North America. There were amazing speakers throughout the weekend, and a great group of Building Biologists and colleagues who are passionate about creating healthy houses! As MC I had the pleasure to get to know the various speakers better and of course was able to spend time with my tribe of people who love this field. Being MC also has it’s perks, as the image below shows!

Stephen Collette as MC at IBE's 30th Anniversary Conference
Stephen Collette as MC at IBE’s 30th Anniversary Conference

Road Trip

Do you ever have that opportunity to spend time in a car with someone whom you respect, a colleague, and be able to talk about all the really interesting things about the job you both love to do? I have that pleasure, as I’m going to the International Institute for Building Biology and Ecology’s 30th Anniversary Conference, where I will be MC. (check out the link in the events page). I’m driving there with a colleague and friend, John of EMF Inspections. He is one of the best in the field and a great person. If you are looking for help with respect to EMF, he is the professional you want to use. Just don’t use him this weekend, as he and I will be at the conference.

A New Look

I am grateful to have a fresh new look to Your Healthy House with a brand new website, branding and approach. I am grateful for those who worked hard to make it happen. I will have their links up shortly.