The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Drake Landing housing community undertaking unique environmental initiative

Urbani thumbThe small town of Okotoks, Alta., has made drastic changes in the past few years to move from the typical conservative views of small town Alberta to a more progressive way of living.

The recent trend of "going green" is running rampant in Okotoks, located just south of Calgary, and is dedicated to promoting environmentally friendly living. The best example of this initiative can be found in the community of Drake Landing, which has implemented many types of environmentally friendly techniques:

  • Drake LandingSolar panels on garage roofs collect sunshine, which will be converted into energy for the houses in Drake Landing.

    Photo: Courtney Urbani/Calgary Journal
    Solar panels on the roof of every garage
  • At least 80 per cent of heating coming from solar energy
  • Homes built using sustainable lumber and insulation
  • Compost bins in every yard
  • Gutter and barrel system to recycle water

Doug McClenahan, project leader for Drake Landing, said the community is paving the way for eco-friendly living one house at a time. The innovative community is the first in the world to use the sun for 80 per cent of its space heating. This number will increase each year until it reaches its goal of more than 90 per cent.

"The major idea for Drake Landing and the town is focused on sustainability and living within the means of the environment," explained McClenahan. "It is an excellent demonstration of how communities and utilities can increase the use of renewable energy."

“Even though the town is growing, that doesn’t mean there has to be increased consumption. The system is greatly exceeding expectations and sets the bar for future eco-friendly communities.”

–Richard Quail, Okotoks municipal manager
Drake Landing consists of 52 houses, which all have solar panels on the roofs of their garages. The panels collect solar energy and heat up water, which is then transported through pipes to a communal heating system.

The heated water is used to heat the houses and the overall temperature increases each year. There will be enough heat stored up to last through the winter months when there is a decrease in solar energy.

There are diagrams and further information on how the heating system works at the Drake Landing website.

Richard Quail, municipal manager of Okotoks, is very pleased with the Drake Landing project.

"Even though the town is growing, that doesn't mean there has to be increased consumption. The system is greatly exceeding expectations and sets the bar for future eco-friendly communities."

Quail said the community is a huge stepping-stone in providing new ways to live using alternative energy and is helping the town overcome the usual oil and gas values of this province.

Quail added that those who live in the solar houses want to promote using renewable sources of energy and reducing pollution throughout Okotoks, and that the Drake Landing community has made an impact on the rest of the town to strive to make environmentally friendly choices.

In addition, the town of Okotoks has also taken the initiative to stay green with a sustainability program that strives to make the entire town more eco-friendly.

Quail said the town has created programs to conserve water, designed an efficient recycling program and educates citizens on sustainability.

In 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper deemed Okotoks the greenest city in Canada. According to the website for the town, Harper said this honour was earned through dedication to new ways of living and motivates the town to continue its "green" initiatives.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.