When Brian Taylor looks out the window of his home in EchoHaven, the view is a street lined with houses of varying architectural styles.
However, beneath the surface, many of those homes have similar characteristics designed to make them eco-friendly and highly energy efficient in a development purposefully built with no natural gas service.
Instead of natural gas, they rely on a mix of super-efficient windows, insulation with high thermal resistance in the walls, passive solar design, air-source heat pumps and solar panels. Together, these building materials and technologies make many of the homes net zero – meaning they produce roughly as much renewable energy as they use – even with Calgary’s harsh winters.
Taylor, president of Echo-Logic Land Corp., says EchoHaven, located within the larger community of Rocky Ridge, might be a glimpse of the future of housing as we move towards an era of reduced carbon emissions.
“Without a question, it’s a specialized niche for people who want a home that is sustainable, or eco-friendly, or low-impact, or solar,” he said. “It’s absolutely how houses need to be built and we expect will be built in the future.”
Taylor says since lot sales began in 2009, the developers have faced their share of adversity, including two recessions in the Calgary economy.
“It’s absolutely how houses need to be built and we expect will be built in the future.” – Brian Taylor, Echo-Logic Land Corp.
But all 25 lots have been sold, with a few now up for resale by their owners, and 16 houses are built and occupied, with one more currently under construction.
The house under construction is being built by 3Leafs Homes for owner Jaime Turner out of four 40-foot recycled shipping containers.
Turner says he had already decided on that type of construction and was looking for a lot when he was told about EchoHaven and thought it would be a great match.
He says the home will be net zero, the shipping containers will greatly reduce the number of trees it takes to build it, and its life expectancy is estimated to be 100 years longer than a traditional home.
“I think we can expect more of this (kind of development) over the course of time, whether it will be (caused by) political or by societal interest in reducing the country’s carbon footprint,” he said.
Taylor adds that while early adopters in EchoHaven didn’t have many resources at their disposal, more information is now available about this type of construction.
“There’s no mystery here, we can even give you a list of things to do and how to do them,” he said. “And the extra cost is down to quite reasonable numbers – two to seven per cent (more than a traditional home).”
EchoHaven even won an Emerald Award in 2016 for environmental achievement.
“It was a strong affirmation that what we are doing was seen by others as important and of value,” said Taylor.