As Edmonton’s new downtown comes into focus, many people have noticed a singular trend: the buildings are getting taller. The once squat city, thanks to height restrictions imposed by the now-decommissioned downtown airport, will soon be home to the tallest buildings west of Toronto, but that doesn’t make everyone happy.
In fact, there are more than a few people who are less than impressed with City Hall’s decisions to approve new, higher buildings, ones who’ve had big plans for renewable energy sources including solar power. Getting energy from the sun, after all, is much easier if the sun can actually hit the solar panels.
Edmonton architect Gene Dub recently gave city hall an earful when his plans for solar power were cast aside with the approval of three new, 40-storey buildings downtown. The new developments interfere with his own building’s light, meaning the $400,000 he spent on solar panels will see their energy output reduced by as much as 40 per cent.
The original plan, the plan Dub was basing his plans on, originally limited the neighbouring buildings to 20 storeys a piece, but a rezoning measure was pushed through City Hall to let them build a little higher.
Coun. Ben Henderson, the sole vote vote against rezoning, is angry about this rezoning and others, saying they’re a bad idea for the city’s growth and prosperity.“We spend so much time and effort on these plans just to walk away from them the first time someone says ‘Boo’,” Henderson told The Edmonton Journal, “Mr. Dub’s situation is a really good example of why us playing fast and loose with our long-term planning is problematic. We make a set of promises and we’re not prepared to follow them.”
Solar panelling has increased in popularity with larger projects like condo buildings in the past decade. While the initial investment can be expensive, the buildings can often pay off the costs through the power they generate for the building. Many homes in Edmonton have been using solar panels for the same reasons, but quick law changes like these may discourage bigger buildings from going green in the future.