A typical Canadian home's energy requirement can be broken down into 60% for space heating, 20% for domestic hot water heating and 20% for appliances, lights, and other. In a typical year, for homes in the Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC), over 90% of the energy used for space heating comes from solar energy. Even in an unusually cold winter and spring, more than 80% of the required heat is expected to come from the sun.
All homes built in the DLSC are finely crafted, single-detached homes with rear garages and breezeways. They are built from six distinct two-story home designs, ranging from 1,492 to 1,664 square feet (139 to 155 m2) in size. These designs are similar to other new homes across Canada, though DLSC homes have subtle differences as part of a solar community.
DLSC homes had more stringent energy requirements than other conventional homes built at that time. Each of the 52 homes were certified to Natural Resources Canada's R-2000 Standard for energy efficiency.
They were also certified in the Built Green™ program. This program is managed by the non-profit, Built Green™ Society and is modeled on both the R-2000 and NRCan’s EnerGuide for New Houses Program. When the houses were built, the program had three distinct levels builders could aspire to for flexibility of price ranges, bronze, silver and gold. The Drake Landing solar homes were certified at the Gold level.
Both R-2000 and Built Green™ programs advocate quality, comfort, energy efficiency and responsible resource use.
Each home is 30% more efficient than houses conventionally built at that time, and were designed with low-impact landscaping, and locally manufactured materials - a practice that supports local businesses and reduces pollution due to the transportation of goods.
In meeting these superior building standards, each home in the community was fitted with:
Garages in the DLSC are 22 feet by 22 feet (6.m x 6.7 m). Interconnecting the garages with breezeway structures provides a very large sloped surface for mounting solar collectors, leaving the homebuilder with complete freedom to design attractive homes in several styles.
The unique garage design was instrumental in adapting the large solar system to the typical Canadian method for building homes in new developments. Typically the builder offers a range of models, with buyers able to independently select the house model and the lot. The homes are then built over a period of a year or more, in random order, as they are sold. This type of construction scheduling is not compatible with the construction of a solar system that requires the solar collectors to be mounted on the house roofs. However, building all of the houses at once, using pre-determined models would have caused havoc with the builder and the homebuyers. Using the garages, which are being pre-built, allowed the solar energy collectors to be installed, commissioned and operated by the local utility even before the first home was completed – and it allowed the homes to be built and marketed in a conventional manner.
All DLSC homes were required to abide by The Town of Okotoks’ water stewardship measures. They have (6L/flush) low consumption toilets, ultra low flow (7.5 L/min) showerheads, (4L/min) bathroom faucets, and (6 L/min) kitchen faucets. All hot and most cold water lines are insulated and the houses have hot water recirculation pumps. An Energy Star®, low water consumption clothes washer and dishwasher were also supplied.
Exterior water conservation was augmented with a rain barrel, supplied for plant watering, incorporated into the eaves trough downspout. Extra topsoil depth was supplied to maintain moisture longer for landscaping needs and an outdoor tap timer was installed to help forgetful users.The homes for the DLSC were built by Sterling Homes.