Beltline Eco-City

Beltline Eco-City...sustainably urban!

Among the many benefits of an urban lifestyle is a reduced environmental footprint. Green grass, flower gardens and living on the ground are too often emblematic of environmental responsibility. The truth is that simply making the choice to live in a centre city, high rise community makes a massive contribution to sustainability.This webpage outlines only a few of the things that make Beltline a truly ‘eco-city’ community. Of course, there is much more to do, and there are many further improvements to be made. The most meaningful sustainability gains can look quite different from small scale structures and backyard composters. Zero footprint buildings, automated recycling, greater energy efficiency and small footprint communities are now possible. Compact urban form built to scale is the way to get them.Beltline’s central location, density, concrete high rises, and walk everywhere urban way of life already put us at the top of the sustainability list in Calgary. And we’ve just begun. Environmental responsibility is not a matter of "small is beautiful". It’s when city living is built to scale and then coupled with daily environmental action and new technologies that real change will be achieved.


Eco-City. Recycling.
The city started picking up curbside recycling in 2009. However, condos were excluded and must establish their own pro grams. The new city initiative only covers units up to four-plexes, leaving a large proportion of the Beltline community out of the loop. According to the city, the new program will service 300,000 homes, leaving out the remaining 25%.Currently, individual condo boards must decide whether the additional costs of private recycling will be paid out from fees. There are also existing depots which the city will continue to operate.Living in a multi-unit building is in itself a way to reduce your eco-footprint. Another way is to recycle your waste. One of the major obstacles to bringing effective municipal recycling to condos, particularly the larger ones, is a lack of recycling equipment in and around the complexes. Some condos, however, are taking recycling to a new level by installing ‘tri-sorters’ that can automatically sort trash, organic matter, and recycling right from the building’s garbage chute. It’s an easier system to use and may encourage more people to recycle in their home.


Eco-City. Sustainable Materials.
Done right, concrete can be the most eco-friendly of building materials. Some cement, the glue that holds concrete together, makes a fair amount of CO2 when manufactured. Processes, such as those used in Calgary, don’t. In either case concrete buildings are inherently more energy efficient than wood frame buildings because concrete has a much higher thermal mass than wood. This means that the concrete walls of apartments store heat in the winter. In summer, outside heat does not permeate the concrete wall easily. This saves energy and makes concrete buildings more comfortable.Another benefit of concrete construction is durability. Wood construction has a shorter life span than concrete, which can last for hundreds of years. Even when concrete reaches the end of its life span it can be recycled.The environmental cost of extracting raw materials for concrete is also more eco-friendly than other building materials. The raw materials that make up concrete are easily accessible compared to forest products. Clear cuts and transportation demands for wood put a heavier toll on the environment.Concrete construction is one of the many ways Beltline is truly an ‘eco-city’ community.

Eco-City. Buildings.

Buildings are the biggest contributor to energy use in cities, even more than transportation. Major impacts can be achieved through innovation in building materials, and smarter design practices.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)is one method of certifying sustainable architecture. The process ensures consistent environmental evaluation of both multi-unit residential and commercial projects.

The program has gained a strong foothold here. City Council has mandated all municipal buildings to meet a LEED silver certification or higher. Developers now pay attention to every detail to ensure compliance with the LEED criteria. This includes everything from the management of construction materials and debris to the use of recycled materials and energy efficient fixtures.


Eco-City. Transportation.


Beltline residents drive less than other Calgarians. A benefit of living in a dense urban community is a drastic reduction in energy consumption. In particular, less greenhouse gases from automobile use and fossil fuels improves the health of our ecosystem.

The new urbanist movement has gripped politicians and planners since the mid 1990s. However, the ‘urban’ part of new urbanism has largely been left out of the discussion. Real urbanism and sustainability are a natural part of centre city living, where amenities are close enough to walk and alternatives such as cycling and rollerblading are viable options.

Electric bikes are one example of how commuters are avoiding expensive parking. These bikes are not only quick, but they provide an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to travel.