Drake Landing Solar Failmunity?

The Drake Landing Solar Community in Okotoks, Alberta, isn’t necessarily a Greenfail.  On paper, it looks greener than the Jolly Green Giant (aside: whatever happened to him, anyway?). 


This “planned community” in a bedroom community/suburb/commuter town/banlieue of Calgary looks great on paper.  52 detached single-family homes are all built to Natural Resource Canada’s R-2000 Standard, which means upgraded insulation, sustainably-harvested wood, partially-recyled drywall, super-efficient windows, etc., etc. blah blah blah. 


But the showstopper with these homes is the community’s communal solar thermal collection system.  It works like this: tubes filled with an antifreeze mixture run through solar panels, that super-heat the liquid during the summer.  That super-hot liquid gets stored in a superinsulated underground tank.  Then in the winter, that super-hot liquid gets run through pipes in the home or something and the stored heat heats the homes.  Neat.  Neat-o.


The end result of all of this?  These houses emit five tonnes less greenhouse gases than comparable homes.  That’s pretty impressive, right?


But hold on a second.  Remember me mentioning that Drake Landing is located in Okotoks?  That’s about 38km from Calgary.  Now, if you’re a wealthy hermit or work exclusively from home, no matter.  Even if you work in Okotoks itself (which, with a population of just 17,000, isn’t bloody likely), it’s all good.  But if you have to commute to a job in Calgary to pay for your home, your greenhouse-gas reductions are null and void thanks to the increase in greenhouse-gas emissions you’re using to drive to Calgary every day.


Here’s the math:

  • Your Drake Landing Solar Community house emits five tonnes less greenhouse gases than a comparable home.  That’s 5000 kilograms (assuming that the five tonnes figure is metric).
  • If you’re driving to Calgary for work, that’s a 75.6km round-trip.  Five days a week, 50 weeks a year, and congrats!  You’re driving nearly19,000km more than you would if you lived closer to your job!
  • It’s Alberta, so you probably drive a truck, right?  Welll, that extra 19,000km means you’re spewing out at least an extra 7000kg of carbon dioxide each year!  Had you stayed in Calgary, used public transit, or even driven a smaller car, you’d be doing more for the environment than you are in your fancy-pants enviro-home that you commute in a pickup truck from.  Even if you drive the most efficient hybrid SUV available, you’re still polluting more than your solar home is saving you from polluting!
  • So no problem – you’ll just drive a more fuel-efficient car.  Which would be fine and dandy.  Except you’d have to drive a car that’s going to create less than 5000kg of carbon dioxide annually during your commute to make any difference.  Otherwise, it’s a zero-sum game (5000kg created commuting – 5000kg saved by your eco-house = no difference at all in your carbon footprint!).  

    So which cars could you drive 19000km a year and create less than 5000kg of carbon dioxide, you ask?  The Toyota Prius or the Honda Civic hybrid.  That’s it.  If you live in Drake Landing and commute to Calgary in any other vehicle, you are creating more greenhouse gases living in your eco-home than you would be if you were living in a regular home closer to work.  And even if you do commute in a Prius or a Civic Hybrid, you’re only saving 600-1000kg of greenhouse gases per year! 

    So Drake Landing isn’t a fail in and of itself.  The tech seems to be sound and the greenhouse gas reductions in housing look to be real.  But because the geniuses behind this project chose to build it 38km from Calgary, the greenhouse gas reductions of your shiny new eco-home are offset by the amount of greenhouse gases created driving to Calgary for work, unless:

  • you don’t have to drive to Calgary at least five days a week
  • you drive a Prius or a Civic Hybrid
  • you car-pool
  • you take (non-existent) public transit into town everyday.

Suddenly, living in Calgary doesn’t look like such a bad idea, does it?  

Like Upski’s book says, Bomb The Suburbs!



“Green For Life” + Escalade Shilling = Greenfail!

Green For Life is a recycling and waste management company based in the Greater Toronto Area.  29-year-old company president Patrick Dovigi states on the company website that he runs his company “not only with extensive industry and business experience, but with a driving, life-long passion to respect and act responsibly towards our environment.”

So then WTF is he doing shilling Cadillac Escalades?  

You probably missed it, but the Globe & Mail ran one of those “advertorials” in the Business section of November 19th profiling this yuppie asshole and how much he loves his Cadillac Escalade EXT SUV. 

Bad enough that anyone would drive around in a tank like the Escalade. This fucking land yacht gets just 14 combined mpg (that’s 3.78 liters of gas to go 22.5km) and pumps out an average of 7000kg of carbon dioxide in a year. Nevermind the greenhouse gases this Dovigi clown is emitting, he lives in Toronto (surprise!), where 1700 Torontonians die and another 6000 are hospitalized each year thanks to smog. And he’s driving around town in possibly the worst smog-emitting vehicle commercially available. Nice.

Simply put, you’d have to try very hard to find an SUV that is worse on fuel consumption or pollutes the environment more.  In fact, there were just eight SUVs that were worse on gas the year this genius bought his house-on-wheels.

You’d think that in this day and age, any 29-year-old that has enough brains to run his own business would know enough to buy a drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Like, for example, the 272 other SUVs I found that are more fuel-efficient than the yuppie tank Patrick Dovigi drives. Or, given that he’s a Torontonian, maybe taking the TTC? There’s a thought!

But here’s the kicker: he’s not just a 29-year-old Toronto douchebag.  HE’S THE PRESIDENT OF A RECYCLING COMPANY CALLED GREEN FOR LIFE!!!!

I am not fucking kidding. His company is “Green For Life” and he drives around in an Escalade. And not only does he drive around in one, now he’s encouraging other people to get one too in a fucking ad for Escalades!  Green Fail defined!

Some highlights from the advertorial:

“‘I take it up to the cottage – I throw everything in the back. I don’t care'”  Oh, he doesn’t care?  Duh.

“Callaway clubs on the second-row seats are concealed behind dark tinted windows, revealing his hidden passion and favourite pastime – golf.” Hmm, the president of Green For Life likes to drive his Escalade to the links, does he? Sayyy, just how “green” is golfing, anyways, what with the herbicides and 300 MILLION LITRES OF WATER a course uses every year to keep the green looking good ?(http://www.ecojustice.ca/publications/reports/ontarios-water-hazard)

“But one question remains: why does a single guy living in Toronto need a big truck? ‘That’s what everbody says!’ he laughs before adding. ‘I don’t know. I like driving it.'” Oh, well, ok, if you “like driving it,” then why should you take public transit or drive a smaller car in a city with the worst air quality in the country? 

And finally this closing shot: “When it’s time for a new vehicle, he’ll get another Cadillac, but one that’s more in line with his company’s core values.” But don’t bother driving anything smaller now Patrick, or TAKING THE FUCKING BUS! No, no, there’s lots of time left before you have to “scale down” to lower your carbon footprint. 

What a hypocritical piece of shit.