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Thermolog | How to Build for Culture, Climate, and Community Capacity

In the vast Canadian landscape, where the whispers of the boreal forest meet the months-long icy embrace in remote regions, lies a profound challenge: housing. For Indigenous communities, this challenge is not merely logistical but deeply intertwined with cultural considerations, the need for self-sufficiency, and supporting the shift in redefining Indigenous housing from being adequate, to equitable and appropriate. Like many rural communities, First Nations grapple with labour shortages, accessibility of materials , and a truncated timeframe in which to build. To meet these challenges, One Bowl has teamed up with Boréal Homes, to deliver a housing solution that ticks the boxes with a focus on driving economic impact with Indigenous communities.

Thermolog cross section showing white pine and polystyrene insulation

Innovation in Modular Housing

Traditional modular housing has long been considered a viable solution to meeting the unique demands of Indigenous housing. Homes are pre-built, quick to erect, and provide an adequate solution to housing in the Community. The current state of available Indigenous housing stock tells a much different story; these adequate solutions are in disrepair, lack durability due to climate suitability, and result in significantly higher than average utility costs month over month.  The situation calls for innovation that goes beyond accessibility and nurtures appropriateness when it comes to culture, climate, and community capacity, and is where the relationship between One Bowl and Boréal lives in constant evolution.

Thermologs on a construction site.

Thermolog technology is what enables Boréal to stand out from other traditional building and home construction methods. With this distinctively designed product, we offer First Nation Communities climate-compatible, culturally relevant, customizable solutions all while complying with insulation standards and using efficient modern assembly techniques. In a nutshell, we’re distributing homes that can be built and maintained remotely, exceed all industry standards, and approach the process with a solution that drives direct economic impact back to Indigenous Communities.

Building Community Capacity with Boréal Thermologs

Interestingly, the experience of construction with Boréal Thermologs mirrors the idea of building with Lego blocks. A kit is manufactured, quality tested, packaged, then delivered for the customer to build onsite. Just as building a Lego masterpiece requires attention to detail and a step-by-step approach, so does constructing a culturally appropriate home exterior with Thermologs. While market solutions rely on external skilled labour, our approach empowers Communities and people by building internal housing supply capacity through Train the Trainer programs. In just 12 days, we can construct an 1800 sq- ft home with just 8 untraditionally trained individuals, demonstrating the transformative power of community-focused solutions. Where we differ from Lego sets, is our understanding that needs vary from home to home, and community to community.  We work with housing managers, Indigenous leaders, and individuals to cater to a diverse range of development projects, offering affordable customization at a mass scale.

Thermolog construction site.

500 sq ft - 5000+ sq ft independent or community/commercial spaces
Available for all foundation types: Stilt, slab, helix, basement, crawlspace

Climate-Compatible Solutions

What is Thermolog?

Thermolog, developed by Produits Boréal, stands as a remarkable testament to innovation in construction technology. By leveraging a combination of white pine and expanded polystyrene, this product represents a significant advancement in creating durable building materials tailored for the exteriors of culturally appropriate Indigenous homes. The utilization of Thermolog offers several advantages, notably enhanced insulation properties and the use of climate-appropriate materials, ensuring energy efficiency and suitability across various Canadian regions.

One of the key benefits of Thermolog is its ability to provide unparalleled comfort within these homes, attributed to the thermal mass of the wood used in its construction. This feature contributes to maintaining a stable and comfortable indoor environment, regardless of external weather conditions.

A distinctive aspect of Thermolog is its focus on addressing stability issues commonly associated with traditional timber log construction methods. By integrating high-quality materials and innovative design principles, Thermolog exhibits exceptional stability, thereby minimizing concerns related to insulation degradation over time and reducing settling to a minimum.

Thermolog constructed with white pine and polystyrene

R-30 Walls & R-40+ Roof
100+ yr home life span
5x Flame Retardancy & Higher Mold Resistance than traditional building materials

Local Production and Remote Accessibility

Thermolog technology revolutionizes housing solutions, particularly in remote regions where traditional construction methods face logistical hurdles. The compact and efficient design of Thermolog materials enables easier shipping to isolated communities, effectively overcoming the challenges associated with transporting bulky construction materials to remote areas. The streamlined nature of Thermolog components not only simplifies transportation logistics but also facilitates assembly in remote locations. This aspect is particularly beneficial in regions where access to skilled labor or heavy machinery may be limited, allowing for more efficient and cost-effective construction processes. By providing a solution that is both durable and easy to transport and assemble, Thermolog technology expands housing possibilities for communities in remote areas, contributing to improved living conditions, sustainability, and resilience in challenging environments.

Boréal shipping yard withhome materials prepared to ship.

Shipping available via: plane, train, transport, transport on ice roads, storage container via transport, boat / barge
6 week turnaround available from time of engineer stamped design to delivery

Cultural Considerations 

Unlike many market solutions that offer housing options with limited cultural considerations and a lack of culturally relevant designs, our approach prioritizes full-cycle Indigenous stewardship. We recognize the importance of honouring Indigenous cultural traditions and preferences in housing design and construction. Collaborating closely with Indigenous Communities, and the Boréal team, we're dedicated to continually evolving our available modular designs to ensure they align with cultural appropriateness. This involves incorporating traditional architectural elements, materials, and spatial layouts that resonate with Indigenous values and lifestyles. Moreover, our commitment extends beyond just providing housing solutions; we aim to empower Indigenous communities through adaptation and applied learning. By engaging in ongoing dialogue and knowledge-sharing, we enable communities to actively participate in the adaptation and customization of housing designs to suit their specific needs and preferences.

Cultural consideration icons of a family, house, economic impact, labour and manufacturing

Culturally relevant building models including elder suites, mud rooms, external access to electrical/mechanical rooms
Full customization of all designs, plans, and layouts ensuring each building meets all community requirements
Culturally, and regionally appropriate logging, production, and manufacturing

One Bowl strives to promote economic participation within Indigenous Communities by fostering opportunities in the housing supply chain. This includes sourcing materials from Indigenous suppliers whenever possible, as well as providing training and employment opportunities for community members in construction, assembly, and maintenance processes. Join us at One Bowl as we build not just homes, but legacies that honour traditions, empower communities, and sustain futures for generations to come.


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