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Build green, local leaders say

St. Albert residents will be at a Calgary conference this week to talk up green buildings.
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GREENHOUSE TOWER — This is an artist’s rendering of the future MacKimmie Tower complex at the University of Calgary. Former St. Albert resident Adam Stoker will speak in Calgary this week about how this tower is being renovated to meet a zero-carbon standard, giving it a greenhouse-like double facade.

St. Albert leaders, including Mayor Cathy Heron, are headed to Calgary this week to hobnob with Alberta’s top experts on green construction.

About 160 people will be at Calgary’s Mount Royal University this Oct. 11 and 12 for the 21st annual Alberta Sustainable Building Symposium. Organized by the Alberta chapter of the Canada Green Building Council, the conference is meant to help industry and community leaders find new ways to promote eco-friendly construction.

“We spend over 80 per cent of our time in buildings,” said Alberta chapter chair Melanie Ross, yet we build those structures to the bare minimum required by law. That means many structures use more energy and create more greenhouse gas emissions than they should.

Alberta has about 2,200 schools that are open most days of the year, and it’s our tax dollars that pay for their operation, said St. Albert’s Tanya Doran, who is chairing a panel on green schools at the conference. Every dollar schools save on energy through green retrofits is a dollar they can put towards the classroom.

“About 15 per cent of our population spends six hours a day or more in schools,” she noted, and it’s in our interest to ensure those schools are healthy, efficient places.

Heron said she would speak about St. Albert’s green building policy at the conference as part of a panel on municipal leadership on climate change and green buildings.

“I think we have a very strong green policy,” she said, noting that the city plans to get a net-zero neighbourhood in the near future.

Municipalities have to walk the talk when it comes to green buildings, said Doran, who chairs St. Albert’s Environmental Advisory Committee. Green construction saves cities and taxpayers money on energy.

“It just makes good business sense. The (return on investment) is there.”

Doran said she recently moderated a forum in Edmonton where Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross spoke on how his Texas community of 70,000 had, for several years, sourced all its electricity from solar and wind.

“He’s a Republican mayor in a conservative territory in an oil and gas state,” she said, and if he can go renewable, so should we.

Doran said her panel would also discuss a new K-12 energy literacy program now under development by the Alberta Council for Environmental Education (of which she was a board member) and the climate change advocates at Calgary’s Lord Shaughnessy High, which was declared Canada’s greenest school in 2016.

Former St. Albert resident Adam Stoker will be at the conference to speak on the Canada Green Building Council’s new Zero Carbon Standard.

“There are a lot of definitions of net-zero,” Stoker said, so the council is promoting a new standard to introduce some consistency.

Buildings that meet this standard will be highly energy efficient and produce zero net carbon emissions, Stoker said. Sixteen buildings are now being built to this standard in Canada, including the University of Calgary’s MacKimmie Tower, and three have been certified under it.

“Buildings are a huge contributor to an organization or country’s greenhouse gas footprint,” he said. Efficient buildings will both reduce emissions and prove more resilient against climate change.

The MacKimmie Tower will not only have a sizeable solar array, but will also sport a unique “double-skin” facade consisting of two layers of glass with a greenhouse between, Stoker said. This facade will use shades and vents to heat and cool the building while also letting in plenty of fresh air and light.

Visit for details on the conference.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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