Whistler Housing Authority in the running for national housing award. 

A Whistler Housing Authority project has been short-listed for a national housing award.

"We are very excited," said Marla Zuckt, housing administrator at the housing authority.

The award is for the Beaver Flats building at Creekside, a 57-unit apartment complex restricted to those who live and work full time in Whistler.

Not only is the building part of the municipality’s on-going commitment to employee housing it also employs green technology designed to keep tenant utility costs down.

The building is heated geothermally, It is hoped there will be up $30,000 a year in savings to heating costs.

The system usually pays for itself in four to 10 years, depending on the cost of installing it. In this case 80 pipe systems had to be put in 200 feet beneath the building.

Water and a non-toxic antifreeze flow down the U-shaped pipes then back up into a heat pump inside the building.

The ground temperature that far down doesn’t change much. For Whistler that means it stays around 6.1 degrees Celsius.

The fluid picks up heat out of the ground, and although it sounds like it is barely cool, the fluid goes into the building and into heat pump which raises the temperature (intensity) of the heat.

In the process of doing that it cools the fluid, heats the building, and then the cooled fluid goes back down into earth, at a cooler temperature than it came out at, and picks up heat in a constant circulation.

The technology is in use at the community-recreational building in Spruce Grove as well.

And dozens of homes in the Whistler area have also made use of it.

It is commonly found in many parts of the world including Switzerland and the American Midwest.

There’s little doubt that the use of this innovative technology played a role in the building being short-listed for the award, which is sponsored by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

All the finalists will meet at a national forum in Toronto, Oct. 22-23, where they can share their ideas said Zuckt.

And of course the winners will be announced in five categories.

"It is really just recognition," said Zuckt. "There is no financial remuneration or anything."

"Our whole idea was that by incorporating more green building principles into design we could show that it can be done and it is encouraging to have these building examples in the building industry to point to.

"And being able to attend this national forum we are privy to all the different innovations going on across the country."

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