How Lethbridge’s SunRidge neighbourhood set the stage for sustainable living

Click to play video: 'How a southern Alberta neighbourhood set the standard for sustainable living'
How a southern Alberta neighbourhood set the standard for sustainable living
The west Lethbridge community of SunRidge is more than meets the eye. When the subdivision was developed in 2006, it became a green-certified community. Eloise Therien has a look back at what features set the neighbourhood apart, and how it’s inspired green builds since then. – Jan 13, 2022

Discussions around sustainability have been growing among federal, provincial, and local governments over the last several years.

But it was the Lethbridge neighbourhood of SunRidge that helped set the standard for green living in Canada in 2006, by being the first community to require Built Green certification for its homes according to Built Green Canada.

“One of the priorities at that time of our city council was to incorporate more green practices throughout our community,” explained Opportunity Lethbridge general manager Abby Slovack.

“In looking at developing SunRidge, we wanted to see in what ways we could sort of push the envelope and see in what ways we could start to introduce more green practices.”

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Slovack said features of the neighbourhood itself that were innovative at the time include solar installations, the use of recycled materials, and storm ponds.

The homes themselves were required to have Built Green certification, which outlines energy performance requirements but also looks at key areas of sustainability such as materials and methods, indoor air quality, ventilation, waster management, water conservation, and businesses practices.

“We gave incentives when builders were able to achieve different levels of the Built Green program,” Slovack said. “That resulted in us having over a hundred homes in SunRidge that were built to that Built Green standard, with most of them reaching that gold level.

A spokesperson with Built Green Canada told Global News it has only been in the last few years that building code has included energy performance, with the City of Lethbridge’s requirement going way back beyond this time period.

“There is no question that the City of Lethbridge set standards to aspire to among other municipalities,” the statement read. “Further, now that building code has certain energy performance requirements, industry is now building to a higher standard.”

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Click to play video: 'Lethbridge College students use final project to raise awareness about community litter'
Lethbridge College students use final project to raise awareness about community litter

Rosemary Jones, a SunRidge resident for the last 12 years, is surprised to see many aren’t aware of SunRidge’s contributions to green living.

She moved from Medicine Hat in the fall of 2009 and decided to settle in SunRidge due to it’s Built Green requirements.

“I just kept coming back to the SunRidge subdivision, to the houses here, because they were new for one thing, but the key was I’d never seen a sustainable community before,” Jones said.

For resident David Scott, it was his property’s proximity to the park that sold the deal.

“I’m a birder,” he explained. “SunRidge park just has a lot of trees, a lot of shrubbery, it’s got the pond and the wetland, so it’s been great for that. I think in the last two years I’ve tallied over 130 bird species in the park.”

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SunRidge is located near Riverstone and Paradise Canyon in the south end of west Lethbridge.

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