Situated in Ontario’s burgeoning Prince Edward County, the Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company produces high quality goat and sheep cheese for all regional restaurants while exemplifying sustainable practices in both cheese production and the building housing it. Built by Lapointe Architects, after the acquisition of a 20-acre site by an ex Toronto executive and her husband, the building follows a modernist aesthetic and overlooks a small creek and lake. Following the model of a winery, the facility is open to the public for retail sales and tasting but also for educational purposes, as there are tours given by the architect himself, sometimes drawing 12 tour groups of about 30 people each. The plan of the circulation, although mindful of the strict hygienic standards, allows for each stage of the process to be visible through triple-glazed walls.
To achieve what the company terms as “Green Cheese”, there are several green energy applications, including an extensive geothermal network that mitigates refrigeration, the use of Durisol (a type of concrete block manufactured from post-industrial waste wood chips mixed with cement slurry), the collection of rainwater for toilet use, an on-site wind turbine, and photovoltaic panels that produce 10% of the building’s electrical needs. The remaining electricity is produced by a producer of Green Power, called Bullfrog Power. Consequently, Fifth Town uses 67% less energy than similarly sized facilities and salvages the environment from 29 tons of CO2 annually. Additionally, wasted liquid waste whey, sanitary waste and production wash water are disposed in a constructed wetland which neutralizes their toxicity.
The didactic function of the facility is complimented with interactive digital screens that are programmed to provide information of the cheesemaking process as well as on the environmental features of the building.