A sustainable urban centre takes shape in Calgary

Solar panels grace a rooftop in Seton, south Calgary.
Solar panels grace a rooftop in Seton, south Calgary.

Calgary – Many look to downtowns in big cities for the centre of urban action, but there is an accessible, sustainable alternative currently being designed in south Calgary.

The Seton Urban District promises an authentic urban lifestyle outside of Calgary’s downtown core—with easy access to work, shopping, home, entertainment, education, health and fitness–all serviced by Calgary’s future southeast LRT transit system.

The mixed-use development designed and built by Brookfield Residential will feature two-and-a-half-million square feet of office and retail space, a 16-acre regional park, a public library, schools, 1300 multi-family residences, an active main street, the South Health Campus as well as the regional recreation centre.

“Seton will be one of the most comprehensive mixed-use developments in North America,” says Warren Paulsen, vice president of Brookfield Residential’s commercial division. “We are proud to be able to incorporate and encourage sustainable building principles and practices that will be beneficial to community members now and in the future.”

As part of those sustainability efforts, Seton now features Calgary’s largest solar panel power system—the second largest in all of Alberta. Composed of more than 250 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, the array powers the retail centre’s lighting system, including its parking lot lights, decorative lights and ground-level illumination.

The array produces an average of almost 60 kilowatt hours each day—enough power to illuminate a 10-acre parking lot for one year.

By using a bidirectional meter, the system is able to produce power during daylight hours and send the electricity directly into Calgary’s main power grid. The meter then reverses the flow of electricity and uses the same amount of power that was produced to light the parking lot at night, which means the parking lot’s lighting system is essentially self-sufficient.

Brookfield Residential is planning to continue this practice in its next phase of the Seton project, which will involve installing a new 450-solar-PV-array to power its parking facility.

Seton’s solar photovoltaic (PV) panel array in Calgary.
Seton’s solar photovoltaic (PV) panel array in Calgary.