Family Bio


To better understand what it means to live in Centennial Park Residence, Russell Ibbotson, Technical Manager for Building Industry at VELUX Canada, will be moving into the home with his wife Bethany and their three children for six months. As Russell Ibbotson explains, “people know how to build a house like this, but after living in it and being able to experience it, we’ll have a much better understanding of how it functions that will resonate with a wider audience.” With his family, Ibbotson is going to be starting a blog and on social media that will capture, describe and communicate the home’s many energy-efficient features—and how indoor climates affect us physically and mentally.

Another important dialogue to explore is the conservative homebuyer. Purchasing a home using Active House guidelines signifies a strong value proposition that may only be appreciated after experiencing the merits of its design. Understanding the motivations of conservative homebuyers and aligning their interests with the benefits contained within the Centennial Park Residence is what the Ibbotsons hope to achieve through discussions with their friends and new neighbours who they hope will visit the house in West Toronto.

Mom & Dad

Russell is a professional engineer who has been working with builders and housing standards programs for almost 15 years. A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Russell completed his degree in mechanical engineering in 2002. He currently works at VELUX Skylights where he manages the technical department and is responsible for the builder, architect and commercial sales programs.

Russell has worked for renewable energy and window manufacturers. He has experience with many aspects of the building process for a variety of residential and commercial projects. He began his career with a manufacturer of renewable energy products in testing and development, but this position quickly evolved to include an increasing sales component, a career path Russell is still on today. His greatest takeaway from over a decade of expertise in the housing development industry is that energy savings are not enough to sell a product — you need to provide an improved experience and present it in way that is easily understandable and speaks to the buyer’s motivations. Russell is dedicated to finding ways to simplify and educate consumers on how good design and building science can improve the experience in and quality of a home.

Russell is a member of a number of industry associations, including the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. He presently sits on the CHBA board of directors as the chair of the Manufacturers’ Council and is a member of the CHBA NetZero Council.. Russell is a member of the Active House Alliance and was involved in Great Gulf’s first Active House in Thorold, Ontario.

In his spare time, Russell enjoys spending quality time with his family. When not participating in family activities, he finds time to renovate their home in an effort to improve their everyday lives.

To further his messaging, some of his approaches to storytelling will be directed at younger audiences. To help him with his ongoing narrative, Russell will use sensors that measure inputs such as daylight, temperature, moisture, and carbon dioxide. By monitoring and logging all of this data, he will be able to refine a process that will gain insight into what makes for healthy spaces

Bethany’s most defining characteristic is her dedication to her family. A world traveller, she speaks three languages and has lived in England, Germany and South Africa. Bethany holds an honours bachelor of science degree from Queen’s University (2003), and a teaching degree from Brock University (2012). She worked her way up from a field technician to a project ecologist for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Specializing in habitat restoration and community stewardship, Bethany worked on wetland restoration, public education, training others in ecosystem monitoring, and outreach on environmental issues. When the family moved to Montreal for four years, Bethany continued working on ecological initiatives, focusing on a variety of projects including water quality, energy conservation, urban gardens, and engaging neighbourhoods in more sound environmental practices.

Bethany put her promising career in the environmental sector on hold with the arrival of the family’s first child. But her natural enthusiasm and passion for sharing her love of nature evolved into an interest in teaching, and upon the family’s return to Ontario, Bethany completed teacher’s college. She will pursue a career in education when she returns to work once all three of her girls have started school.

Familiar with approaches to scientific research, Bethany will be sharing her observations from living in the new home with Russell as they work together on developing a narrative that promotes a bigger conversation about a broader public’s expectations of daylight and healthy indoor climates. She is excited to work with her children to explore the benefits of Centennial Park and its effect on their ability to learn, play, and grow. Seeing the world through their children will provide an invaluable method of observation often missed by engineers, building science specialists, and architects involved in developing Active House Centennial Park.

The Ibbotson Girls

Enthusiastic and outgoing Lucy is the family’s first child born January 2, 2010. The six-year-old is in public school and starts grade 1 this fall. Lucy has Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, an autism-related disorder, and is globally delayed, meaning she has delays in her cognitive and physical development. She enjoys dancing and playing outside on a slide, tricycle or sandbox. She’s also fond of indoor activities including play dough, painting and playing with stickers in a chair by the window.

Eleanor is the family’s middle child, born November 3, 2012. Caring and independent, she loves exerting her own sense of style, dressing up and dancing around the living room, doing crafts and playing with toy cars, animals and Little People toys. Eleanor is a great little helper — she enjoys helping mommy bake and helping daddy with instructions and handing him tools. The free-spirited 3.5 year-old starts junior kindergarten in September.

The youngest child in the Ibbotson family, little Poppy was born October 7, 2014. Not even two years old, Poppy is already exhibiting her energetic and observant personality. She adores being outside and looking out the window, getting everyone to sing songs for her to jump and dance to, stacking blocks and taking things out (and sometimes putting them back in) and, of course, doing everything her big sisters do.