Zero-carbon community planned near Edmonton

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - Most parents try to ensure their children eat properly, attend a good school and participate in extracurricular activities. Then there's Godo Stoyke and Shanthu Mano.

They want to build a zero-carbon village for their son Calan.

Stoyke and Mano have lived in an off-grid home in Lac Ste. Anne County, about 100 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, for the past 18 years. This suited them until their son got older and needed friends. Now, their isolated acreage location just doesn't work for them.

"We want to be part of a community," Mano said.

But not just any community.

The couple-run a business called Carbon Busters, which has been around since 1992. They specialize in increasing the efficiency of buildings while reducing environmental impact.

So they want their community to be a model of sustainability - the first zero-carbon village in Canada. And they hope to attract about 550 like-minded people to live in this village with them.

"One of the principle features of the village is zero-carbon buildings," Stoyke explained to about 200 people at the Telus World of Science. "The operating goal is no net carbon emissions from any of the buildings."

That's a lofty goal. The plan is to have 80 detached units and 156 multi-family condominiums.

The bulk of the electricity will come from wind turbines, but the idea is to limit the need for this electricity in the first place by making the homes as energy efficient as possible. Stoyke said a 1,700-square-foot home will have one-tenth the space heating requirement of a regular home.

There will also be solar panels, a natural sewage treatment system, transit, greenhouses and farming.

The application form has a price list which varies greatly depending on the size of the home. The lowest price, $179,000, is for a room in a seven-person co-op model home. From there it moves up through 10 more options to $845,000.

The exact location of the 100-hectare plot under consideration is still a secret since negotiations with the landowner are ongoing, but the site is located east of Leduc, about 20 minutes south of Edmonton, Stoyke said.

Leduc County was chosen because it recently revised its bylaws to allow homes to be put on small lot sizes, meaning a higher building density can be achieved, he added.

The project is expected to break ground in April and see home construction during the summer.

Another more widespread model of environmentally friendly home building is the Built Green program.

The energy and water efficient homes can be built for as little as $1,000 to $5,000 more than a standard home, said David Bengert, president of the Built Green Society of Canada.

There are 5,093 homes enrolled in the Built Green program in Calgary - three times as many as the 1,666 enrolled in Edmonton.

Bengert says this is largely because Calgary started on the program a year and a half before Edmonton.

He believes building a zero-carbon village is attainable. "If you were to take one individual home and try to do that, your costs are quite high. The advantage of doing it in a village setting is you can spread out the wind generation and some of the solar generation costs across a number of homes and then your unit costs come down quite a bit."


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