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  • Red Deer entrepreneurs lead way in green design

    EDMONTON PLEASE PAY ATTENTION

    Ambitious geothermal, solar techniques will produce Canada's first carbon-neutral condos
    Paula Simons, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Paul Harris and his partner, Terry Warke, aren't your stereotypical Alberta property developers.

    They own and operate a funky home and garden store in downtown Red Deer. They're the co-authors of a book on water gardens. And they're two of their city's leading community and cultural activists.

    Now the two men have quite a different project underway. They've purchased land in downtown Red Deer to build a 31-unit condominium with five commercial units on the main floor. Sound hum-drum? Well, they're billing their project as the most "green" building of its size and class in North America. If all goes as planned, it would be Canada's first carbon-neutral condo.

    "We believe a business has to care about the health of the individual, the health of the community and the health of the environment," says Harris. "This could be a way to change the way we build buildings in our communities."

    According to 2003 figures from Natural Resources Canada, the buildings where we live and work are responsible for almost 30 per cent of Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions. Changing the way we build, systematically designing structures that use less electricity and natural gas, could go a long way to shrinking our carbon footprint.

    Warke and Harris's project -- it's called Swerve -- is designed to produce no carbon emissions. It sounds like a bit of a conjuring trick. And Edmonton architect Shafraaz Kaba admits Swerve won't be 100-per-cent energy neutral, not at first. But his design goes to extraordinary lengths to cut energy use.

    The building will use geothermal heating and cooling. On cold days, it will rely on the earth's thermal energy. On hot days, it will rely on the water from an underground stream to cool the condo units.

    Solar panels on the roof, the balconies and the building's south face will generate electricity. There will be solar hot water heating, too.

    Swerve will recycle its own waste heat -- if someone puts a restaurant into one of the main floor commercial bays, the heat from the ovens or commercial fridges will be recirculated through the building.

    Even the elevator will generate electricity every time it goes down.

    In the winter, when the days are dark and cold, the condo won't produce enough of its own power. It will need power from the province's electrical grid. But in the summer, says Kaba, the solar panels should produce enough electricity that Swerve can sell its excess power, thus balancing out its annual energy consumption.

    "We're going to squeeze every last kilowatt and gigajoule of energy," says Kaba.

    Initially, the building needs only 15 per cent of the energy a building of this size and type would require, he estimates.

    Over time, as more expensive solar panels are installed, Kaba hopes Swerve will become Canada's first "net zero" emissions condominium complex.

    "For me as an architect, I really think this kind of project takes advantage of all my skills and abilities," says Kaba. "And it gives me a huge sense of hope for the future."

    Such an ambitiously green project isn't cheap -- Kaba and Harris estimate all the energy-efficiency measures add about 25 per cent to the cost of the project, which has a budget of $6.6 million.

    But Kaba says they'll pay for themselves, albeit over the long term.

    For now, Harris and Warke are benefiting from a $3-million federal-provincial affordable housing grant; 22 of Swerve's 31 units will sell below market value, to people who might not otherwise be able to afford a home in Red Deer's hot housing market.

    From a business perspective, Harris and Warke's timing could hardly be better. As public concern about global warming heats up, so does the social cachet of living in a hip green building. Construction and pre-sales won't start till this fall, but Harris says people are already calling about buying units.

    This is the kind of smart environmental design we need if we're serious about global warming. Self-righteous finger-pointing and snide lectures about whose lifestyle is greener than whose are insufficient responses to a natural disaster. We need bigger, better ideas.

    If we really want our developers, engineers and architects to put up more energy-efficient buildings, we need the public policy to "inspire" them. Maybe that means tax incentives, rebates or subsidies. Maybe it means going much further, and legislating tough building codes that compel builders to lower emissions in new buildings.

    At the very least, it means educating consumers to ask for better. If developers see a market demand for green buildings, they'll build to meet it.

    Meantime, we in Edmonton will have to eat humble pie. Two entrepreneurs from Red Deer have taken the plunge and set out to create a new kind of building with a passion and ambition that should put the rest of us to shame.

    We need more of that kind of vision. Let's smarten up our global-warming debate. Let's start talking about substantive legislation and tax policies that could make a real difference.


  • #2
    Yeah.

    I want that.



    Drooool....

    Seriously though, big up to red deer on this development. It's too bad the feds haven't regulated this sort of thing yet, but I'm sure we'll see that soon. In the meantime, kudos to private business and individuals taking steps forward.
    Proposing solutions to problems that don't exist since 2007

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cleisthenis
      Yeah.

      I want that.



      Drooool....

      Seriously though, big up to red deer on this development. It's too bad the feds haven't regulated this sort of thing yet, but I'm sure we'll see that soon. In the meantime, kudos to private business and individuals taking steps forward.
      Did you read this:

      For now, Harris and Warke are benefiting from a $3-million federal-provincial affordable housing grant; 22 of Swerve's 31 units will sell below market value, to people who might not otherwise be able to afford a home in Red Deer's hot housing market.

      Sweet!

      Comment


      • #4
        Wow, that building is going to stick out like a sore thumb in downtown Red Deer...
        LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

        Comment


        • #5
          I believe this is part of the Net-Zero project happening across Canada. This project in specific I think is being designed by Manasc Isaac. I can't wait to see this project!!!! Another giant step forward in sustainability. And IMO, the only way to go forward, no matter the economic costs!
          Thus the task is not so much to see what no-one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought that which everyone sees. - Schopenhauer

          Comment


          • #6
            this is kinda what i envision the north edge and east jasper lookign like.....diverse, modern, pushing design and LEED>


            Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

            Comment


            • #7
              Yes it is Manasc Isaac Architects.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TroyD
                I believe this is part of the Net-Zero project happening across Canada...
                Troy,

                Edmonton also has a NetZero project underway (one of 12 in total across the country) with permit applications now underway for a duplex in Riverdale. Additional info is available at:

                http://www.riverdalenetzero.ca/

                Ken

                PS Cleisthenis - you may be able to purchase one side but for now Habitat is planning to retain the other for "display/research" purposes. Although not inexpensive, given the cost of cutting edge technology and applications, I believe the units are actually "relatively" affordable.
                "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

                Comment


                • #9
                  few clarifications...

                  Just a few clarifications:

                  1. the project is only getting 2.2 million from the Canada-Alberta affordable housing grant program.

                  2. It is not part of the CMHC Net Zero housing program. It was the clients own initiative that drove this idea.

                  3. The column on the corner is a place-holder for a substantial piece of public art! The public art will be chosen by a PUBLIC COMPETITION.

                  4. See www.swerveliving.com for details

                  shafraaz
                  Manasc Isaac Architects

                  www.miarch.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: few clarifications...

                    Originally posted by shafraaz
                    Just a few clarifications:

                    1. the project is only getting 2.2 million from the Canada-Alberta affordable housing grant program.

                    2. It is not part of the CMHC Net Zero housing program. It was the clients own initiative that drove this idea.

                    3. The column on the corner is a place-holder for a substantial piece of public art! The public art will be chosen by a PUBLIC COMPETITION.

                    4. See www.swerveliving.com for details

                    shafraaz
                    Manasc Isaac Architects

                    www.miarch.com

                    thanks for the background and clarification.


                    Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Red Deer entrepreneurs lead way in green design

                      If only the developers of "Square 104" had the forsight to develop this..
                      [/quote]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        here are some new renders...







                        These are more recent renders of the building...

                        shafraaz

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Excellent design for a midrise apartment.
                          Edmonton first, everything else second.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This project looks very promising, great initiative. I will follow this with great interest.

                            Of interest to anyone some excellent insights into the true nature of the builders of the Netzero in Edmonton can be seen at a posting at http://edmontonnetzero.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Those circular windows on the side HAVE to go. The newer design looks pretty good otherwise.

                              Comment

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