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Innovation in Action – Supporting Our Communities

North-Edmonton-Ops-Centre-inset.jpgCommunities across Alberta look for value-oriented and innovative solutions to solve their challenges and meet the needs of their residents. Our innovative, award-winning business solutions do just that, making life easier for our municipal customers by saving them time and money while improving environmental performance.

Our commitment and focus on innovation and green technologies is evident through our support in building sustainable, self-sufficient, solar and geothermal communities like the Drake Landing solar community and a number of homes in the McKenzie Towne subdivision. We’ve also applied these innovative technologies to our own operations.

Drake Landing Solar Community

The Drake Landing solar community in Okotoks, Alberta is Canada’s largest subdivision of energy-efficient and environmentally responsible homes. ATCO has been part of the project since 2004. At the time, it was North America’s first major implementation of seasonal solar thermal energy storage.

The innovative design allows the solar energy absorbed through 800 rooftop solar collectors in the summer months to be stored underground using a closed loop geothermal system and returned to the community’s 52 homes as heat in the winter.  

The project set a worldwide precedent with a system that generates 1.5 megawatts of thermal power and has exceeded performance expectations by fulfilling more than 90 per cent of each home’s space heating requirements from solar energy since 2012. 

Each home produces approximately five tonnes fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year, totalling almost 300 tonnes of GHG reductions per year for the community.  And, homes in the community are 30 per cent more efficient than conventional residences.

McKenzie Towne

In 2008, ATCO partnered with developers and builders to install renewable energy technology in the McKenzie Towne development in southeast Calgary. Geothermal and solar technology supplies 100 per cent of the space heating and cooling requirements as well as a portion of the domestic hot water needs for the 21-home development.

Each home is equipped with a geothermal loop (which uses heat from the ground) and a heat pump to deliver space heating and cooling needs. In addition, a solar water heating system was installed to provide a portion of the homes’ hot water needs and natural gas is used to satisfy the balance.

ATCO Operations and Geothermal

ATCO has also applied geothermal technologies to its own operations and facilities.

ATCO’s North Edmonton Operations Centre (NEOC) is equipped with a natural gas absorption heat pump geothermal system as the primary heat source for the facility. This system is a highly efficient and sustainable way to heat the 55,000 square foot building. This state-of-the-art sustainable building is the largest installation of natural gas-driven geothermal heat pumps in Canada. Compared to using a conventional boiler and cooler system, NEOC saves more than 1,000 gigajoules of energy annually, thereby reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 60 tonnes per year.

Solar-LED-Lights-inset.jpgSolar and LED Lighting Solutions

ATCO can supply, install and maintain a variety of solar LED product solutions for any outdoor lighting application for municipalities, including streetlights.

When municipalities switch to an LED streetlight, they are able to realize significant savings in cost, energy and CO2 emissions. Annual energy usage is reduced annually by 59 per cent and CO2 emissions are reduced by 370 pounds, resulting in an annual cost-savings of $26.52 per light. These annual savings are estimated based on a 41 watt (W) LED streetlight using 14 kilowatt hours  per month compared to a 100W High Pressure Sodium light using 34 kilowatt hours per month.

ATCO is the also first utility in Alberta to adopt a standard 3000k colour temperature for municipal streetlights; 3000k or less is recommended by the International Dark Sky Association to promote preservation of the night sky from excessive light pollution.

Our commitment to innovation goes far beyond these few examples. We’re investing in research and development in technologies to improve environmental performance and efficiency. Regardless of the specific needs of your community, ATCO can provide an innovative business solution to make life easier for you by saving you emissions, time and money.  

Photo captions:

Banner image: The 52-home Drake Landing solar community in Okotoks, Alberta was North America’s first major implementation of seasonal thermal energy storage.

Inset image: ATCO’s NEOC experiences an energy savings of more than 1,000 gigajoules annually, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 tonnes per year as a result of its geothermal system.

Inset image two: ATCO can supply, install and maintain a variety of solar LED lighting solutions, reducing energy consumption and costs for our customers. 


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