A former trailer park being redeveloped into the highly sustainable Spring Creek Mountain Village in Canmore Alta., is the first to be certified under Built Green Canada’s Communities Pilot Program.
Originally a mobile home and RV park known as Restwell, Spring Creek Mountain Village has undergone a major transformation, joining the ranks of other sustainable Canadian communities, including the massive Zibi project straddling the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau.
Designed to promote both environmental and economic sustainability, communities like Spring Creek are becoming more common among commercial and residential developers, as the advantages of green community projects become more apparent.
Located in the heart of Canmore, a picturesque community surrounded by a mountain backdrop, it is designed to promote both environmental and economic sustainability. In turn, these concepts are at the core of Built Green Canada’s Communities Pilot Program.
The certification for phase one of the development was announced in conjunction with Earth Day, the theme of which was appropriately “Restore Our Earth.”
Spring Creek’s sustainability features
Services within Spring Creek are being created with a goal of reducing carbon pollution and thereby reducing global warming. One of the key features of the community is clean energy.
“We were one of the first to adopt geothermal technologies in Alberta to meet our goal to create a truly sustainable mountain community,” said owner and president Frank Kernick.
“This is a nod to my parents and grandparents and to Canmore—a legacy for the town in which I grew up.”
He estimates the geothermal heating and cooling system will eliminate 600 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. This will be accomplished by circulating fluid through a ground loop used to pump heat to and from the earth, using its natural heat as opposed to burning fossil fuels.
Spring Creek achieves Built Green certifications
The project, which began development in 2006 after being approved in 2004, aims to achieve the highest levels of Built Green certifications on all residential buildings. Spring Creek is the first to be recognized in the Built Green Community program, which combines environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Although Spring Creek has been employing sustainable building practices for several years and has certified more than 50 Built Green projects, the communities program pilot will be Spring Creek’s first opportunity to certify its entire village.
The development also boasts scenic hiking trails along the creek, which adheres to the highest habitat standards. Bridges connect the community and provide pedestrian access to crucial infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and public transit.
Spring Creek has designed a water system for irrigation that uses only ground water, so no water is pulled from the municipal water supply.
Composed of commercial, single- and multi-family housing, Spring Creek Mountain Village is offers housing options for people at all stages of their lives, including an active senior living component. It also features live/work condominiums allowing owners to operate street-front shops connected to their homes; and a luxury hotel and conference centre offering a living roof (grown in The Malcolm Hotel’s plaid brand).
This unique urban environment also includes affordable housing, both commercial and residential, five per cent of which is offered at half price.
COVID pandemic advances sustainability
Although Spring Creek has been in development since the early 2000s, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred Built Green to encourage the community to participate in the pilot project, creating jobs and healthier living conditions.
“Now, more than ever, health and wellness have become a priority, and there is growing awareness that a sustainably built home is a healthier home,” the organization says in a release.
Since Built Green’s establishment, more than 36,065 Built Green-certified homes have been constructed across Canada, including in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.
Developer Averton (active in Alberta and Ontario)is also participating in the pilot with the enrolment of its St. Albert community; Midtown. The 18-hectare, master-planned community offers a diverse range of housing types, abundant open space and convenient amenities. It includes distinct architectural forms, a mix of for-sale and rental residences, alongside street design that prioritizes age diversity, safety, and general accessibility.
“Considerable planning has gone into the development of our communities program, with ongoing input from industry professionals, including engineers and energy advisors, as well as consultation with industry,” said Built Green Canada chief executive officer Jenifer Christenson in the release.
“With the leadership [of] Averton and Spring Creek, the pilot is already being put to use to create greener, healthier communities in Canada.”