Members of the public review UniverCity community model.

More green kudos for UniverCity

June 26, 2008

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By Stuart Colcleugh

UniverCity has received another green planning award – this time from the American Planning Association (APA).      

The APA recognized the mountaintop residential community with its 2008 National Planning Excellence Award for innovation in green community planning. It’s the first time a project outside the U.S. has won the coveted award.

"UniverCity demonstrates to citizens around the world that we don’t have to wait for technological breakthroughs in order to create communities today that lower our carbon footprint," says Carol Rhea, who chairs the APA’s national planning awards jury.

The APA cited a number of green innovations, including:
  • Zoning bylaws that permit affordable legalized secondary suites in multi-story apartments and town homes
  • A village-style commercial High Street, with individually designed storefronts, and locally based owners and operators
  • An award-winning, storm-water management system, including "green streets" that allow bio-filtration through pervious pavers; landscaped bio-swales; green roofs; and innovative approaches to on-site water retention
  • Green Building Guidelines that are enshrined in the municipal zoning bylaws, resulting in significant energy and water conservation; the use of resource-efficient materials; and reduced waste
  • A variety of housing types and styles to meet a wide range of needs including singles, families, and lower-income households
  • Higher residential development standards to ensure environmental quality, durability, enhanced occupant health and improved indoor air-quality measures
  • Innovative financing for energy efficiency components in residential buildings

"Without a doubt," adds Rhea, "UniverCity represents a veritable treasure chest of viable alternatives for planners, government officials, residents and businesses to use in achieving their green community goals."

Dale Mikkelsen, SFU Community Trust manager of planning and sustainability, says UniverCity’s approach to green planning "is to make sure that every innovation and sustainable design solution is developed in consultation with, and approved by, the City of Burnaby.

As a result, he says, "the lessons learned here are fully transferable to other places and do not remain as one-offs or demonstrations existing in isolation."

The APA national awards program, considered to be the profession’s highest honor, began more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans and planning leaders.
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