Council asks for solar ready housing 

Small investment in athletes’ village today could provide flexible platform for tomorrow

For the first time ever council has asked developers to make their housing projects “solar ready” for the future — a sign of how serious it is about green building standards.

The request came at the 11 th hour as both the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC) and the Whistler2020 Development Corporation (WDC) submitted plans for housing at the athletes’ village.

“We’d be foolish not to require it,” said Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden who brought forward the idea after hearing about advances in solar technology at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting last month.

At Monday’s meeting VANOC was looking for approval of 20 townhouses that will be connected to its High Performance Centre in the athletes’ village.

The WDC, the municipal organization responsible for building the athletes’ village, was looking for approval of an additional 20 townhouses that will be a part of the overall legacy neighbourhood after the Games.

Both developments were approved with the caveat that the buildings have a “flexible platform” to convert to solar energy in the future as that technology becomes available. However, Councillor Eckhard Zeidler opposed the VANOC project pending the release of the business plan for the athletes’ centre (see story below).

There was some debate at Monday’s meeting about whether council could make this request at the 11 th hour.

Mayor Ken Melamed said it was the only time to make the recommendation because the athletes’ village development has been under such tight timelines that council has not been able to provide a lot of feedback.

“We’ve been fast tracking all this stuff and approve, approve, approve and there wasn’t any detail,” said the mayor.

“We have such a good working relationship with the development corp. board and VANOC, we felt comfortable making the recommendation and are confident that they’ll comply.”

Council discussed the possibility of adding a “solar chase” — a space in the walls that could hold pipes or wires to transfer solar energy.

“It’s very inexpensive to do it today, to provide the potential to go in that direction,” said Melamed.

VANOC’s 20 townhouses will be modular buildings, separated into four buildings, located in the core of the village close to the athletes’ centre.

The WDC’s 20 townhouses are part of the hundreds of housing units that will be converted to employee housing after the Games.


Councillor opposes VANOC housing, asks for business plans

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