In the end, it won't be the builders, or city planners, or elected officials who decide the success to which Calgary can be transformed into a green city; it will be Calgary's citizens, acting individually and collectively, who will be at the root of this change.
Calgarians know they need more sustainable forms of urban and suburban growth. They know their environment, physical health and sense of community will be threatened if they do not live more sustainably. Consequently, Calgarians are beginning to re-imagine their individual homes and their communities. The result? Green communities are sprouting up throughout Calgary's suburbs.
More and more frequently, Calgarians are using builders who understand energy efficiency and eco-friendliness and can build dwellings to green building codes. A popular option, offered by Karoleena Homes, are eco-friendly modular residences which result in very little waste. Not to be mistaken for mobile homes, modular homes are built future-ready for solar power and lend themselves nicely to sprawl-curbing initiatives such as inner-city infills and secondary suites.
Calgarians are also looking beyond their homes to the communities in which they live. The suburbs make Calgary unique - they are the many faces of Calgary. Realizing that Calgary's population can't all live within walking distance of downtown, some communities are working towards building better, greener suburbs.
Four notable communities paving the road to greenness in Calgary are: Echo Haven (an eco-minded suburban community located within Rocky Ridge), Inglewood, West Springs/Cougar Ridge, Oakridge, and Rocky Ridge.
The Echo Haven site was purchased by Dave Spencer, a landscape architect. His own home, the first on this site, was built as a "net zero home" producing as much energy as it consumes in a year. Years later, he has successfully created a community based around eco-minded ideals, where residents live in solar-powered housing, in a setting where the natural landscape is preserved. EchoHaven's remoteness from inner-city amenities is more than compensated for by the across-the-board energy efficiency of the homes.
With green belts, bike paths, natural landmarks, and an engaged populace, Oakridge has a lot going for it. In an attempt to become known as Calgary's greenest community, Oakridge residents are working towards making Oakridge a self-sustaining, 24/7 urban village, providing more services for seniors, and creating meeting spaces where people can discuss issues related to the common good.
The community association of West Springs/Cougar Ridge (WSCR) encourages community members to become more environmentally conscious and address environmental issues through community events such as community cleanups and an environmental expo. The expo, an interactive mini trade show, includes workshops to address issues such as toxicity in the home, ethical purchasing, waste management (including composting), energy efficiency, and water conservation.
Inglewood is home to the Garden Path Society, a non-profit organic community garden with 103 plots for rent. The plots are mostly rented by people living in Inglewood. This society has also founded Cornucopia, an urban garden co-operative u-pick, which also generates produce to be donated locally. It's an environmentally sustainable food source in the heart of the city.
It's clear that Calgarians are re-imagining their homes and communities. Community associations are likely to become sustainability leaders because efforts can be initiated right where people live. The actions taken by individuals and communities have increased community pride, involvement and prosperity. It is only a matter of time before these communities' strategies and successes spread to other communities.
Krista & Michael Kehoe are Calgary REALTORS® specializing in Calgary homes. At CalgaryRealEstateAlliance.com, you can Search MLS listings for the latest homes and properties in the Calgary real estate market for free, 24 hours a day.
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