Risk Takers: Green Development in Small Communities
Duncan, British Columbia, a city known for its heritage is now on the forefront of eco-living, despite centering the Cowichan Valley’s relatively small population of about 76,000. In the heart of this evolving city, Brant Weninger is developing a 20,000-square foot residential-commercial project that is meeting the highest level of green standards including the addition of a sustainable green roof. “For the last 15-20 years, I have focused on green buildings of all kind but economically it wasn’t feasible” explains Weninger, developer of Kenneth Park. That was the case until recently when Weninger decided to develop a piece of land in the heart of Duncan’s historical downtown that would become one of the most advanced green buildings in the area or even the entire province.
With the market now finally accepting green design, Kenneth Park will bring more residents into the downtown core, adding life to an area that traditionally has been known for its unique shops, offices, and restaurants. The combination of a residential-commercial space will not only appeal to a new demographic of residents, but will also bring local business owners new opportunity, creating a people-friendly area. Kenneth Park will have the aesthetics of the heritage structures, but on the inside it will operate as an eco-friendly working/living building.
Equipped with geothermal heating and cooling, solar heated hot water, a storm water management plan with a rainwater harvesting system, inner courtyard for increased natural light, irritant free, low VOC paint, sealants and adhesives, and formaldehyde free cabinets and insulation – business owners and residents can work, play and live comfortably knowing that they are improving their community’s sustainability and their own health. “The Canadian Government did a study about 15 years ago and what they found out was that homes were fairly toxic” explains Weninger of the need for this practice. His commitment to natural design aims to not only solve this prevalent problem but reverse negative effects over time.
While both the living and commercial spaces in Kenneth Park offer so much more than what is listed above, there are some key features that make this green building quite spectacular. The green roof will absorb a large percentage of the rain water, which will run into the rain water harvesting system. This system will catch, store, and recycle the water to the roof top, as well as supply water to the building’s toilets. The use of this rain water management plan will greatly reduce the use of the building’s clean water, and will prevent an overflow of water from the site. On the west coast of BC rain is in abundance, and so Duncan offers the perfect location to implement a water conservation strategy such as this.
This sustainable building will preserve the city’s energy by heating and cooling itself through a geothermal system. Geothermal systems use the earth’s heat to control a building’s temperature. The energy stored in the earth is both clean and renewable as it is absorbed from the energy received by the sun. According to Renewable Energy World, “almost everywhere, the shallow ground or upper 10 feet of the Earth’s surface maintains a nearly constant temperature between 50° and 60°F (10° and 16°C). Geothermal heat pumps can tap into this resource to heat and cool buildings. A geothermal heat pump system consists of a heat pump, an air delivery system (ductwork), and a heat exchanger-a system of pipes buried in the shallow ground near the building. In the winter, the heat pump removes heat from the heat exchanger and pumps it into the indoor air delivery system. In the summer, the process is reversed, and the heat pump moves heat from the indoor air into the heat exchanger.”
Wellness Real Estate
Kenneth Park is an example of what cities across the globe are working towards: taking their rich history and finding a way to integrate it into an eco-friendly and naturally sustainable way of living so that that same rich history will be there for future generations to enjoy along with clean water, air and energy.