Blatchford to be earth’s biggest carbon-neutral neighbourhood

Posted by on Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at 11:01am.

The City of Edmonton recently revealed plans for a district energy sharing method which will ensure the inner-city development of Blatchford becomes the planet’s largest carbon-neutral neighbourhood in the next 10 years.

The community, which is being developed on 536-acres on the old downtown airport site, will eventually house 30,000 residents. With the city’s futuristic plan, each home will use less energy thereby reducing costs and of course, environmentally unfriendly greenhouse gas emissions.

What is a District Energy System?

Historically, a district energy system controls the temperature and provides hot water for multiple buildings from a central facility where liquid is warmed or cooled.  It’s distributed via underground pipes and eliminates the need for these buildings to have their own systems. This new district system proposed by the City will adapt waste heat produced in downtown buildings by lights, technology and human beings. Boosted by heat pumps, this system should reduce energy consumption by as much as 20 per cent.

Further energy can be captured from heat generated by residential waste water which can be sent through a heat exchanger. This system combined with new energy efficient performance standards effective November 2015, as dictated by the new Alberta Building Code, brings the Blatchford community pretty close to its carbon-neutral target.

The final phase will be incorporating solar energy into the mix, which Blatchford executive director Mark Hall believes will happen in 2025, when the cost of adding solar panels comes down and makes this renewable form of energy more feasible.

Edmonton City Council has approved the district energy sharing plan and will see the final cost estimates by spring.

More about Blatchford

Named for the airfield upon which it will stand, Blatchford is a City of Edmonton development is currently in the first phase of construction, which includes multi-family residential development with no single-family detached homes.  Billed as one of the largest sustainable communities in the world, Blatchford is in the heart of the city. Its goal is to be a high density neighbourhood and cater to people in every stage of life.

New Zoning

The City has incorporated new custom zoning into this unique community, such as:

  • Small retail allowed in residential areas in mixed-use buildings.
  • Double the bike parking as currently required.
  • No driveways or front-facing garages. All parking will be at the rear or underground to encourage a vibrant streetscape.
  • Ability to construct secondary suites in townhomes. Garage suites will also be allowed to assist in creating density in line with Blatchford’s vision to provide affordable housing.
  • Decks and gardens on roof tops will be allowed. 

Besides the planned residential areas on west and eastern portions of the site, Blatchford will include an exciting town centre, a civic plaza and ample green space.  Located south of Yellowhead Trail, three future LRT stations are planned for the East District. New zoning regulations in effect in all four phases of the Blatchford development will promote a more village-feel.  It will be a walkable, bike-friendly neighbourhood with less traffic congestion and noise.

Ground was broken in August 2015.

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