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Solar panel installation begins on Edmonton’s 1st net-zero energy fire station

Crews have begun installation of solar panels on Edmonton’s first net-zero energy facility: the Windermere Fire Station #31 in the southwest corner of the city. Nicole Stillger reports – Nov 4, 2022

The first of 382 solar panels are up on the roof of the Windermere Fire Station No. 31, 3865 Allan Dr. S.W., in Edmonton.

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“This is the first building we’ve designed and constructed as a net-zero building,” said Shannon Fitzsimmons, facility planning & design director in the City of Edmonton’s integrated infrastructure services department.

That means the building generates energy. Over the course of a year, it generates the same amount of energy it uses.

“We’re very experienced in designing and building fire stations. We work closely with our partners, we understand the operational needs of a building like this,” Fitzsimmons said.

Windermere Fire Station No. 31. Morris Gamblin / Global News

In addition to the solar array, there’s a geothermal field where heating and cooling energy is harvested from the ground.

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Inside the station, an insulated floor acts like a thermos, keeping the heat or cold in the building.

“To capitalize on the area that we have within the site, we dropped 35 boreholes 75 metres down which allows the exchange of — in the summertime, keep the building cool and in wintertime keep building warm,” said Jesse Banford, facility infrastructure delivery director with the city.

Windermere Fire Station No. 31. Morris Gamblin / Global News

The overall budget for this pilot project is about $18 million.

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“There are enhanced systems we invest in in a capital project like this, but we get the advantage of reducing our operating costs over time,” Fitzsimmons explained.

Tiffany Edgecombe, training and logistics deputy fire chief with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS), called the project exciting.

“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to live and operate out of the city’s first net-zero building and it’s getting close,” Edgecombe said.

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Windermere Fire Station No. 31. Morris Gamblin / Global News

The new station will also allow EFRS to increase its services levels.

This part of the city was identified as an area of need back in 2017.

“What it’s allowing is for a greater coverage area, increased ability to meet our service level targets in the neighbourhood,” Edgecombe said.

“We know right now this area is currently being served by the Terwillegar and Heritage Valley stations.”

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The Windermere station is expected to be operational by spring of next year.


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