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Green Real Estate; Victoira’s Dockside Green vs Calgary’s North Stoney Greens

Green real estate has been a buzz word in Victoria and the rest of Canada over the last few years and it is interesting to read about the new developments across the country that is trying to be more environmentally friendly. A very interesting article in the Times Colonist by Kathy McCormick of Canwest News Services takes an inside look at Calgary’s North Stoney Greens. It reads:

Calgary development targets carbon footprint

Master-planned community includes light-rail station, cluster housing designed to reduce greenhouse gases

Today, Kermit would be proud. It may not be easy to be green, but it’s definitely trendy.

Energy efficiency, green building practices, eco-friendly materials and practices, environmental stewardship, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and more — all buzzwords about making the planet a better place, which people are embracing as new neighbourhoods, homes and products in housing construction and renovation are introduced into today’s building techniques.

Another major focus in this area today is actually not a word, but a phrase: reducing the carbon footprint.

Sounds impressive, but just what does it mean? The carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment and on climate change in particular.

It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating, transportation and the like.

The carbon footprint is a measurement of all greenhouse gases we individually produce, calculated in tonnes (or kilograms) of carbon dioxide equivalent.

It can actually be measured — and reduced. One group of developers, which has 809 hectares in the north-central sector of Calgary, aims to do just that.

GWL Realty Advisors, Homburg-Centron Teamworks, Carefree Communities and Acera Developments have teamed up with a plan, tentatively called North Stoney Greens, which is a carbon-reduction initiative.

The IBI Group is working with the development group, “looking at the plan to integrate a series of sustainable initiatives that will focus on reducing the carbon footprint,” says Steve Shawcross, a director with IBI Group. “It’s time, given what is going on in the world today.”

The master-planned community will have a number of new ideas, including a commuter rail station within the development.

“We can only go in this direction,” Shawcross says. “It’s logical, and it’s the future if you look at self-sustainability from a transportation standpoint. It can take hydrocarbon fuels into the future.”

He predicts the concept will be in Calgary within two to five years.

“We will have the infrastructure in place. We want to encourage it. My sense is that it will be part of the regional transportation plans of the future, and we are planning high-density nodes around the station.”

LRT lines, too, are planned for the area. “Public transit is a big part of the plan.”

The road network will have provisions for separate bicycle lanes, which would be planned ahead of time and designed to integrate with the road network.

Other significant changes that will promote the reduction of the carbon footprint include plans for “much higher densities,” Shawcross says. “Overall, within 15 to 20 years, 40,000 homes will be in place. That’s a better utility of the land as a resource for development. We can’t go on indefinitely creating single-family lots of such low density.”

That doesn’t mean high rises and tiny lots crammed in together, he says. In fact, look for some innovative community plans. Cluster housing is one. “Seven houses are in a cluster, sharing the roadway in either a condominium or fee-simple way.”

In a condominium setup, the road would be common property, belonging to the whole cluster of seven homes, and those residents would share costs for snow removal, maintenance of the road, etc.

Either way, road widths have been designed to be narrower and lots smaller — and more lots would fit into the same space as traditional cul-de-sacs.

“Lots would be much smaller, and there would be fewer setbacks with no big turns at the end for trucks.”

Overall, the plan calls for more multi-family homes as well, bringing the units per acre to 15 to 20, compared to more traditional development today that calls for 12 to 16 units per acre.

Some of the other innovations include:

– Employment nodes: “Thirty per cent of the land is dedicated to employment,” he says. “But everything is integrated to the community. This is a livable industrial development. The level of landscaping and esthetics, and the services for those working there are high. Live/work is in close proximity.”

– Food production: A series of communal gardens will be set up, so people can grow a lot of their own food near where they live.

– Nodes within the community will have recycling and composting.

– Land will be set aside within the community for affordable housing. “Ten per cent of lands must be set aside for municipal reserve, and there are vacant school sites,” Shawcross says. “We’ll take one per cent for affordable housing.

This provides a land base for different types of affordable housing, such as co-ops, seniors’ residences and so on.

“That will also stop the NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard]-ism because the land has already been set aside — and it will be next to the transit node. People will know about it before they move in.”

The developer has other innovations as well, Shawcross says. “We have 20 initiatives altogether to set the community apart.”

Altogether, the developer, with some measurements developed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., has been able to calculate the reduction in the carbon footprint that should be attainable.

“It is decreased by 62 per cent — which exceeds the Kyoto accord expectations — and that’s not counting everything, just the things we could measure already.

“This is a new day. We have to change; we can’t afford to continue with developing as we do now.” End of Article.

If you are planning to purchase or sell Victoria real estate in 2009, just let us know. Our team of professionals has the knowledge and know how. Contact Bill or David at Properties In Victoria Professional™ team. You can consult their two Victoria real estate websites or or just email Bill and Dave .

Cheers, Bill

Properties in Victoria Professionals- Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty

Bill has been a REALTOR® in Victoria since 2006. Originally from the Vancouver area, Bill moved to Victoria to attend the University of Victoria where he received his Bachelor of Science. Not only does Bill have a wealth of real estate knowledge he is also an active member of the community. He is a member of Triple Shot Cycling Club, Island Road Racers and is the Race Director for the Sooke River 10K.

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