SEN Hero

Saskatchewan's Green Municipality

A number of municipalities around the world have been leaders in adopting green development policies. In Saskatchewan, our leader is the Town of Craik (pop. 418).

Faced with the declining fortunes now typical of once thriving prairie towns, Craik and the surrounding rural municipality have launched a long-term project to make the community a model of ecologically friendly living. The Craik Sustainable Living Project will ultimately create a town-sized demonstration site for sustainable social and economic development. Potentially, it will attract thousands of visitors interested in learning about ecological alternatives.

The project will involve three phases. Phase 1-the construction of a 6000-sq. ft. multi-purpose ecocentre-is well underway and will be completed this spring or summer. The ecocentre incorporates a range of green energy technologies, energy efficient construction design, and ecologically sensitive water and waste handling. It will include a restaurant, featuring locally-sourced food, a golf pro-shop and display/meeting rooms.

The post and beam structure employs timbers salvaged when the local grain elevator was torn down. The walls are made of straw bales, which provide an insulation value of R40. Heating will come from active and passive solar and geothermal sources.

A thermal wall built of local stone and the concrete floor will serve as heat sinks for solar heat entering through 700-sq. ft. of south facing windows. In the restaurant, a Finnish-designed, solid fuel masonry oven will be used for heating and cooking during the winter months. Some of the bricks for the oven have been recycled from the recently demolished Craik school.

Electricity will be generated by a 2 kW photovoltaic solar system and a 10 kW wind turbine. The system will be connected to the energy grid to eliminate the cost of battery storage of power.

In Phase 2, the project will focus on reducing the community's overall "ecological footprint." This phase will include public education, energy retrofits of public buildings and private homes, improved water and waste management, incorporation of ecologically sound technologies and building methods in construction projects, and the development of community composting and recycling programs.

Phase 3 will feature a co-housing development or ecovillage. Initially, the ecovillage will involve six to 10 families using a wide range of sustainable practices. The ecovillage will collaborate with the ecocentre on educational and economic activities.

See what has been accomplished so far at Craik, and keep up with future progress.