The City of Edmonton’s Blatchford project is the 2020 winner in the neighbourhoods category of FCM’s Sustainable Communities Awards. The initiative also received FCM's Inspire Award for the project that best demonstrates creativity and innovation, as decided by delegates at FCM's Sustainable Communities Conference.
A new landmark development in the City of Edmonton, Blatchford is a sustainable live-work community that uses 100% renewable energy, aims to be carbon neutral and encourages a sustainable lifestyle. Built on the 536-acre site of a former municipal airport in the heart of Edmonton, the community uses innovative systems to achieve environmental, social and economic benefits.
Neighbourhood will reduce energy use and GHG emissions
The primary goal of the Blatchford project is to develop a carbon neutral community using 100% renewable energy. The district energy sharings system can reduce overall energy consumption by 15-20% once the community is fully built. And GHG emissions from homes and buildings will be about 75% less than a traditional neighbourhood, saving about 30,000 tonnes of GHGs annually at full build out. The project is expected to realize significant economic benefits as well, and is projected to make over $200 million in profit that can be reinvested in Edmonton.
Mixed use community focuses on people first
Blatchford supports Edmonton’s strategy to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The site is centrally located and connected to transit, which aligns with goals for development in the city core and increasing the use of public and active transportation. Based on exemplary place-making and planning criteria, land use planning for the community includes engaging public spaces, bike and pedestrian paths as well as work, education, shopping and healthcare amenities, all of which are intended to foster interaction and a sense of community. Businesses and employment in the community will contribute to its economic sustainability, and the project anticipates a positive net revenue at full build-out.
Project aims to be greener and more sustainable in every way
Blatchford incorporates environmental sustainability from the ground up. Materials from the former airport were recycled, including repurposing crushed runways for new road construction and deconstructing the former airport hangars to divert over 90% of the materials from landfill. The community’s homes are built with features such as high-performance building envelopes and high-efficiency energy systems, so they use significantly less energy for heating, cooling and hot water. A highly efficient district energy sharing system uses renewable energy sources to provide environmentally-friendly heating, cooling and hot water services to the homes and buildings. The first stage of this system uses a geoexchange field to harness the shallow geothermal energy below the earth’s surface. The community uses natural water infrastructure techniques, such as bioswales, rain gardens, and stormwater ponds that also increase biodiversity and add greenspace for residents’ enjoyment.
Long-term vision allows flexibility during housing market uncertainty
The primary challenge facing the project is the housing market. A soft market in Edmonton in recent years combined with unemployment and lasting economic effects from the COVID-19 pandemic create uncertainties for the future of real estate. However, the community is in the early stages of development and will be developed in stages over the next 20-25 years, which gives the project the flexibility to adapt to changes in the economy, community needs and sustainable technologies well into the future. While this year has been different than expected for everyone, the long-term plans and vision for Blatchford have remained unchanged.