Zero-Energy Home in Calgary
EchoHaven is a community designed for sustainability.
Did you know Calgary has an eco-community? EchoHaven, developed by the Echo-Logic Land Corporation, is a gated community on a secluded cul de sac in the city’s northwest.
EchoHaven’s 25 homes have views of wetlands, rolling hills and mountains. More significantly, these residences are designed for minimal environmental impact.
One of the community’s first homes, built by Bow Crow Design, has been zero-energy certified by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). That means this home produces as much energy annually as it consumes. As energy-efficient home building becomes a higher priority in Calgary, this could be one of the first of many zero-energy homes in our region.
How is EchoHaven different from other Calgary communities?
- It’s designed to preserve the surrounding land (instead of restoring natural features such as wetlands after construction) and minimize the community’s ecological footprint.
- Homes are positioned to maximize solar power.
- Lots are small, with natural features and low-maintenance landscaping.
- It’s not off-grid, but the community’s city utility and infrastructure requirements are minimal.
- Storm water is retained on site and used to contribute to the ongoing health of the ecosystem (there are no storm sewers).
- It’s a “Bare Land Condo” development, which means buyers own freestanding homes as well as an equal share in the surrounding woodlands, ponds and amenities.
This video from Green Energy Futures explores EchoHaven’s innovative approach to building a greenfield community.
Like the community, the homes in EchoHaven are designed for efficiency and sustainability.
- Radiant electric, passive solar, and solar thermal energy (instead of natural gas) provide heat and hot water.
- Low-flow features and rainwater collection/reuse.
- Energy-efficient appliances (EnerGuide 84 is the minimum standard in EchoHaven, compared to EnerGuide 80, which is the minimum standard for new homes according to the Alberta Building Code) and LED fixtures.
- Smart ventilation (instead of air conditioning).
- Locally sourced, sustainable, and recycled materials.
- Well-insulated walls and fibreglass windows.
How does the cost of a zero-energy home compare to the cost of a standard home?
According to Echo-Logic Land Corporation, a high-performance EchoHaven home equipped with energy-efficient systems costs about $30K more than a standard home.
“The average square foot cost of a standard tract home (EnerGuide 75) in Calgary is $190/ sq. ft. The value of the upgrades for the EchoHaven Demonstration Home to reach net zero, or EnerGuide 100, cost $240/sq. ft. or $35/ sq. ft. more than a standard home built to Code.”
- From the EchoHaven website
However, initial cost must be weighed against ongoing costs. While the price tag of a sustainable home is larger than a standard home, its utility costs are lower. These homes will use about 50% less electricity and water than a standard home, and no natural gas.
There’s also the life satisfaction factor to consider. Homes built according to “biophilic” principles, that is, in harmony with natural systems, can make us feel happier, relaxed, and more empowered. Not only that, access to natural spaces may just make us smarter.
Interested in sustainable development in Calgary? So is our Municipal Development Plan, which lists building a greener urban environment as one of its 7 primary goals. Find out why reducing carbon emissions may be a practical goal – even for an energy capital like Calgary.