Drake Landing Solar Community, located in Okotoks, Alberta, is North America’s first large-scale seasonal storage solar heating system project.
The project was initiated by Natural Resources Canada in 2005, and the first rays of solar energy began to flow into the energy storage system in June 2007.
Natural Resources Canada continues to be the central coordinator for this first-of-a-kind renewable energy project, which was made possible through the many partnerships that the department has made with innovative and environmentally conscious companies.
The project includes a district heating loop that uses solar energy to supply space heating for 52 homes. Currently in its sixth year of operation, Drake Landing Solar Community is surpassing its five-year target of supplying 90 percent of the space heating requirement through the solar energy collected, with solar energy now supplying an unprecedented 97 percent of space heating to all the homes in the community.
The project is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five tonnes per year per house through the combined benefits of solar and energy efficiency. This reduction is equivalent to saving 260 tonnes per year for the entire community.
In addition to the solar space heating system, each home includes an independent, two-panel, solar hot water system that meets 60 percent of the domestic hot water needs. Each home is certified to R-2000 standards and registered with the Built Green™ program at the Gold Level, its highest standard. Some of the energy-efficient innovations include superior insulation and air tightness, low-flow plumbing fixtures, advanced appliances and low-impact landscaping.
Drake Landing Solar Community has been honoured with several awards, including the Emerald Award for Climate Change from the Alberta Emerald Foundation and the Gold Award from the International Awards for Liveable Communities program, endorsed by the United Nations Environment Program. It also recently received the 2011 International Energy Globe World Award.
Among the project contributors are: the Province of Alberta, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Funds, United Communities, Sterling Homes, ATCO Gas, the Town of Okotoks, Climate Change Central, SAIC Canada, IFTech International, Enermodal Engineering Ltd., Exova Canada Inc., Thermal Energy System Specialists, EnerWorks Inc., Nu-Air Ventilation Systems Inc., Sunbow Consulting Ltd., Hurst Construction Management Inc., the Drake Landing Steering Committee from Chalmers University (Sweden), the Bavarian Centre of Applied Energy Research (Germany), the University of Calgary, Queens University and Environment Canada.