I made the first post to this website more than eight years ago. My initial vision was a type of clearinghouse for Edmonton-based green ideas, and looking back, that's what the website is full of.

At the height of my content production, the site was getting almost 10,000 unique views per month. It still gets over 3,000 uniques/month, and I think that is a testament to the quality and enduring value of the content.

My biggest accomplishment on the site was copiously documenting the building and design of our Mill Creek NetZero Home. Most of the information about the house, which is a state-of-the-art (2009) cold-climate building, is still entirely relevant.

This site will remain here as a resource for googlers and green info seekers.


Conrad Nobert

P.S. Thanks to Ken Hemmerling, who was one of the very few people to take me up on my "let's build a community resource" offer. His blog posts were interesting and topical.

Net-zero housing in Edmonton

An interesting article on how Edmonton is a hotspot for net-zero housing:

Edmonton Housing: The Bad and the Good

I work in Windermere (on the southwest edge of the city - south of Henday Drive) and see the kind of houses that are being built and find it kind of depressing.  Houses are framed with significant thermal bridging, there’s no thought towards orienting the streets or individual houses for maximum solar gain, many homes have just double pane windows and there’s not a single solar panel anywhere.

It’s not possible to squeeze another north-facing window on this house. These will be a net energy loss every year for the entire life of that house.

When I was a boy if we didn’t close the entrance door fully in the winter time, my father would chastise us by saying “What are you doing, trying to heat the great outdoors?”.  Apparently that’s what this house is designed to do as it has an outward facing gas fireplace built in to its side.

It was against the backdrop of the above that I ran across Oxford Phase 2 - a neighbourhood that requires all homes to be certified by either BuiltGreen Canada Gold, LEED Canada for Home, ENERGY STAR, R2000, or achieve a minimum EnerGuide rating of 80. Not only that, but people lined up overnight just for a chance to buy a lot!

There is a demand for energy efficient homes in Edmonton.  I suspect that one of the primary reasons for someone to buy a lot in Oxford is the fact that you wouldn’t have to risk developing an advisarial relationship with your builder by pushing them to build a high efficiency home.  By building in Oxford, you can make the city the bad guy and say “I’d love to buy your standard home but, gosh darn it, the city is forcing me to get a certified house” then get the house you really wanted in the first place.


City Council Reboots Bike Initiative

Edmonton's planned high-quality bike routes 

After the bike wars of 2012, Edmonton city council has decided to rethink and reboot their strategy. Following the strong leadership of new councillor Michael Walters, YEG has decided to focus resources on building excellent, family-friendly bike infrastructure where cycling rates are already high, the city's core neighbourhoods.

So administration released the above map last week. Except for the 51s Avenue route, which to me doesn't follow the "build it in dense areas where the demand is highest" rule, I love the routes that they've suggested (these routes aren't set in stone, as they are subject to a new, very thorough consultation process that leaves the exact route as an option for the community to decide).

I did see something missing in the Strathcona area though. While there is a really nice grid downtown, there are no north-south routes in Edmonton's busiest cycling neighbourhood. So I attended a meeting of our most responsive level of government yesterday, and I was delighted with the results.

My proposal is to add a north-south route in the counterflow bus lane that travels north, parallel to Calgary Trail. I blogged about the idea here, and these are the simple pictures that I showed the transportation committee:

Proposed two-way cycle track on the 104 Street counterflow bus lane 

Location of the proposed two-way cycle track, the 104 Street counterflow bus lane  

I was very happy when the committee put forward a motion for administration to look into north-south routes in the Strathcona neighbourhood. Overall, the councillors were thoughtful and intelligent (With the exception of the always-hilarious Councillor Catarina. I know that I shouldn't say anything if I don't have anything nice to say, but Catarina's rude, uninformed manner were an insult to his post yesterday). 

What's Next?

Council is on the right track with its idea of only building Holland-quality routes, and putting them where they will be appreciated. So what in in store for the next six months? First of all, these routes are not yet funded. This Fall, council will vote on a four-year capital budget that may or may not fund the routes. It is critical to Edmonton's future as a cycling city that all of the routes (perhaps with the 51 Avenue one being replaced by a north-south Strathcona route) be fully funded. Secondly, these routes need to remain high quality. We, the cycling community, cannot accept any but the most minor concessions to them being high quality routes. No more sharrows! 


There are two consultation processes going on right now, one each for the 83rd Avenue and 102 Avenue routes. Participate in either or both processes (83rd here, and 102 here), and stress the need for safe, comfortable, high quality routes. Also, contact your city councillor about funding these routes in the Fall. They will be under pressure to save money in the budget, but the comparitively (to other traffic infrastructure) modest outlay that they will require needs to be allocated. 

Edmonton's bicycle riders have waited many years to have some infrastructure available to us. We are many years behind cities like Calgary and Vancouver. It's time to get these routes funded, and to build them well. Council didn't disappoint me yesterday, and I expect even more of them when it comes time to finally fund these safe, family-friendly bike routes.