Discussions about sustainability have increased between federal, provincial and local governments over the past several years.
But it was the Lethbridge neighborhood of SunRidge that helped set the standard for green living in Canada in 2006, by being the first community to require Built Green certification for its homes according to Built Green Canada.
Abe Slovak, General Manager of Opportunity Lethbridge, explained, “One of the priorities at the time for our City Council was to incorporate more green practices throughout our community.
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“When looking at the development of SunRidge, we wanted to see ways we could push the envelope and see ways we could start introducing more green practices.”
Slovack said the neighborhood’s same features that were innovative at the time include solar installations, the use of recycled materials, and storm ponds.
The homes themselves were required to obtain the Build Green certification, which specifies energy performance requirements but also considers key areas of sustainability such as materials and methods, indoor air quality, ventilation, sanitation management, water conservation, and business practices.
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“We provided incentives when builders were able to achieve different levels of Build Green,” said Slovack. “This resulted in over a hundred homes in SunRidge built to the Build Green standard, with most reaching this gold standard.
“It has definitely influenced how homebuilding happens in Lethbridge.”
A spokesperson for Built Green Canada told Global News that only in the past few years has the building code covered energy performance, with the City of Lethbridge requirements reverting beyond this time period.
“There is no doubt that the City of Lethbridge has set standards to which it aspires among other municipalities,” the statement read. “Furthermore, with the building code now having certain energy performance requirements, the industry is now building at a higher level.”
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Rosemary Jones, a SunRidge resident for 12 years, was surprised to see so many are unaware of SunRidge’s contributions to green living.
She moved from Medicine Hat in the fall of 2009 and decided to settle in Sun Ridge due to her green requirements.
“I kept coming back to the SunRidge subdivision, to the homes here, because it was new for one thing, but the key is I’ve never seen a sustainable community before,” Jones said.
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For resident David Scott, it was the proximity of his property to the park that sold the deal.
“I am a birder,” he explained. “SunRidge Park has a lot of trees, a lot of shrubs, and it has the pond and the wetlands, so it was great for that. I think in the last two years I have counted over 130 species of birds in the park.”
SunRidge is located near Riverstone and Paradise Canyon at the southern end of West Lethbridge.
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