"Here comes the SUN
And I say its alright,
Here it comes."
~ George Harrison


One of Western Canada First



Live | Work | Learn



Wind & Passive Energy
Greenhouse (Heating & Growing)



Conserving Features










Retail, Housing, Education
Greenhouses (Heating & Growing)




(Heating & Growing)


DeRidder + Sordi + Sieniuc

Towards An Energy Efficient Community

suntranparentLeftColor 100 86Olds College, Olds, Alberta, 1980-81

"Here comes the SUN,
 And I say its alright
SUN, SUN,SUN, here it comes"
            ~  George Harrison
The Olds College Homestead is an eco master plan and architectural design concept for student and community housing, mixed with education, retail and other community facilities created for Olds College, Olds, Alberta. The project was presented as a Master of Environmental Design (Architecture) thesis. Energy conservation, addressed at the community level is central to the  proposal. The planning issues of efficient land use, edible landscapes, mixed use development and a pedestrian neighbourhood were addressed. Energy efficient building envelopes with passive solar heating, as well as indigenous rural design principles, are developed in the architecture of the buildings.  Integrated social, growing and shelter systems are incorporated in this innovative living, working, learning community. 

The concept of homesteading is not new to the prairies. It suits the individual spirit of the prairie resident. The homestead, an energy conserving community, is a contemporary interpretation of that earlier way of life. It is a place where people can purse a livelihood, learn an occupation and be provided a home at lower than normal costs. The integration of living, working and learning is, in itself, an energy conservation principle.

Project Planning and Design Team:
Rob Sieniuc,  BA, MEDes (Arch)
Eric de Ridder, BA,MEDes (Arch)
Richard Sordie,
BA, RCP (Dip), MEDes (Arch)
Presented:  October 9, 1981
Nickle Art Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
In partial fulfillment of  the requirements for:
Degree Master of Environmental Design (Arch)


  1. The design team was given the mandate to develop a scheme which would provide for the expansion of certain college functions (such as student housing) and introduce new facilities.
  2. The team worked under the guidance of the Olds College Executive Committee which provided information concerning the facilities program and site constraints.
  3. The intent of the proposal is to develop and present an innovative energy efficient design.
  4. The scheme represents a point of departure for further discussion and participation with the college and community at large.

This design proposal is the Synthesis of the thoughts and efforts of many individuals. Its presentation is the result of the Project Team’s research, and the efforts of many Olds College staff and students, thesis advisors, and consultants. We are indebted to the following who gave generously of their time and provided valuable support:

Thesis Supervisory Committee
Robert Kirby, Environmental Design, Univ of Calgary
Tang Lee, Environmental Design, Univ of Calgary
Jack Long, Architect and Planner, New Street Group
Conrad Loban, Director Alberta Housing and Public Works
Nelson Gutnick, Social Welfare, Univ of Calgary
Olds College
Glen Crombie, President, Olds College
Dave Jones, Director, Finance & Administration
Jim Coulthard, Housing Coordinator
John Fildes, Supervisor, Physical Plant
Bill Knibbs, Assistant Chairman, Continuing Education
Gerald Laarhuis, Student Rep. to Board of Governors
Bruce Martin, Chairman, Continuing Education
Garry McCullough, Landscape Design and Horticulture
Dennis McKernam, Supervisor Grounds
Ida Stanley, Public Relations
Derrick Tiscur, President, Student Union
Riley’s Reproduction and Printing Ltd, Calgary
Willem Doesburg, Peter Hemming Architects, Edmonton
Max Kattenburn, Alberta Housing and Public Works
Doug Reichert, PEng (Mechanical), Rob Simpson, PEng (Structural)
Environmental Design, University of Calgary
Rob Crothers, Jim Kostyniuk, Joe Starkman, Rob Swart

The town guide refers to Olds as Alberta' s first "College Town", and in this sense it is unique in the province. Incorporated in 1905, the town has a current population (1981) of 5000. Primary activities are ranching, farming and support services, but plans for the future call for a greater emphasis on diversified light industries.

Olds College, established in 1913, is located on the eastern boundary of the Town of Olds. Its major role is to provide career-oriented courses and programs in agricultural production (farming and ranching), and specialized agricultural programs (agricultural service, management and marketing). In addition, liberal arts, academic and business programs are provided. Current enrollment (1981) is over 700 full-time students. The college also offers continuing education courses and community service programs, designed to meet the needs of rural Alberta.

The design concept and building program requirements described herein reflect the discussions, interviews conducted during visioning workshops and meetings held in 1980-81 and subsequent design and planning work undertaken by the project team..

The design team met with Olds College executive and  teaching staff and students on numerous occasions, and attended a number of energy and college related conferences.  Several visioning workshops where conducted with the various user groups to generate a facility program and overall design concept  for the expanded facilities.  At the visioning sessions, project goals, principles of  sustainable environmental design, and desired functional and space requirements for the expanded facilities were discussed. Background information (Urban Homestead) was also presented as a starting point to generate the conceptual planning and design for the future facilities.  Base materials included site plans, massing study models, aerial photo analysis, and architectural presentation drawings.

A  final conceptual design concept Olds College Homestead was formally presented to the Olds College Executive committee on October 9th, 1981.

The Olds College Homestead is based on ideas generated from the “Urban Homestead”, an entry for the federally sponsored ‘Low Energy Building Design Awards’ competition. Energy conservation in the Urban Homestead was addressed not only at the architectural level but was also considered fin the relationships between working, marketing and living at the community level. In April 1980, the Olds College Executive Committee, with a stated interest in energy conservation, endorsed the Urban Homestead concept as the basis for the College Homestead proposal.

Originally the homestead frontier was the untamed wilderness; today this frontier is energy, its production and utilization. The challenge for the homestead community is to explore the conserver society alternative as well as energy technologies. Considering energy on the community level offers a comprehensive approach to conservation.

Three overriding Energy Design Principals are central to the Homestead Concept:

  1. Higher density, mixed-use development— integrated living, working, selling and learning spaces to permit efficient local energy generation, distribution and recycling
  2. Local resource development—emphasize local resource utilization such as in food production and construction materials, in order to reduce the energy requirements and costs associated with transportation
  3. Use of energy efficient technologies—use physical environment and technical innovations to reduce space heating and cooling demands

"Neighbourhood space is that territory close to home, including houses, churches, businesses and parks, which because of the residents' collective responsibility, familiar association, and frequent shared use is considered to be their own."
                                                               ~ Hester, pg 21

The Olds College Homestead is envisioned as a neighbourhood linking the college with the adjacent community of Olds. The functions of housing, education, retail and services are mixed to form a diverse framework for the Homestead Community.

Accommodation for long term residents, students, and short term visitors is provided. The population mix in intended tp give stability and diversity to the community.  Neighbourhood facilities provide places for young and old, for students, residents and visitors to share in activities. These would included dining out, shopping both at commercial stores and at a farmer's market, attending cultural and educational events, enjoying the natural areas of the community, and just people watching.

"All the world is a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances:
And one man in his time plays may parts......"
                ~  Shakespeare, As You Like It, II vii

"Demonstration is important to the college, for not all people interested in innovations, experiments and analyses of tests can afford the time to be students, even on a part-time basis.  With ongoing research occurring at the college, people should be able to drop in for a visit, to aks questions and to observe day-to-day operation of a teaching/research facility."
                                                               ~ McKinnon Report, p. C-5

Accumulation of knowledge and the development of skills can be a formal or informal, directed or unstructured process. At the Homestead learning can occur in the classrooms, in the halls and lounges, or under a tree. A 'hands-on' approach teaches students, among other things, to operate a commercial greenhouse or run a commercial kitchen; makes the residents aware of energy conservation practices; and informs the visitor of the college activities, and not just of its existence.

 "People of all walks of life come forth, and offer a class in the things they know and love: professionals and workgroups offer apprenticeships in their offices and workshops, old people offer to teach whatever their life work and interest has been, specialists offer tutoring in their special subjects. Living and learning are the same."
                                                               ~ C.  Alexander, p. 101-102

"Every home is within a few minutes of dozens of workplaces. Then each household would have the chance to create for itself an intimate ecology of home and work: all its members have the option of arranging a workplace for themselves close to each other and their friends. People can meet for lunch, children can drop in, workers can run home.  And workplaces themselves will inevitably become nicer places, more like homes, where life is carried on, not banished for eight hours."
                                                                  ~ C.  Alexander, p. 54

The opportunity for the work place to become part of the College community is integral to the Homestead concept. For example, people can operate a food stand or work in a bookstore: they can repair appliances in their workshop or make candles; they can demonstrate aquaculture to their neighbours or work with children at the daycare; they can grow orchids commercially or produce their own vegetables.

Rather than zoning various aspects of life (living, learning, working) into specific sites, the Homestead tries to integrate them into the community life with a mixed-use project. The inhabitants have the opportunity to partake in the learning environment of the college and earn a livelihood all within walking distance of their homes.

The following is a summary of the programme formulated by Olds College in conjunction with the Project Planning and Design Team:​​






1. Student Housing                    

Single students
Private Rms c/w bath/kitchenette

Proximity to Lodge rooms to double as Lodge accommodation

50-55 rms

2. Cluster Housing

Shared student, 6-8 per group

Proximity existing student residents/dining

12-14 Clusters

3. Community Housing

Self-contained - students, staff, towns people

Located passive area, ground access smaller buildings

1Bed: 35
2Bed: 25
3Bed: 15


- Classrooms
- Shop, studio & work spaces wood/metal work, food
-Production, arts & crafts, business, aquaculture, horticulture

Proximity and easy access to academic campus & farmstead

15-25 Classrooms


-Rental space small
retail outlets (convenience, bookstore, records, office ,food)`

To be located more active areas- accessible HWG2A

12-15 Outlets


1. Restaurant Dining facility serving college and community, instructional purposes Proximity to Lodge & retail

180-200 persons

2.Lounge Kit to serve Lounge & Restaurant, instruction purposes Proximity to Lodge & retail 70-80 patrons
3.Student Centre Services Olds students, students union, news off, meeting, workspaces Prominent location  
4. Community Centre Workspace, lounge, meeting, kitchen to be provided
High visibility, easy access
5. Community Hall Accommodates large functions, dances, exhibitions, community markets High visibility, can share other uses  
6. Daycare Serving College, Homestead and surrounding community to be located in quiet area, proximity to farmstead 40-50 children



A. Energy

1. Building Organization

  • Orient buildings to maximize solar gain
  • Buildings to have strong east-west axis
    -minimize length of buildings with north-south axis

2. Functional-Economic

  • Optimize the use of buildings
    -multiple use of spaces to distribute more evenly the energy load and lower operation cost

3. Landscape

  • Minimize winter shading
    -keep buildings low
    -ensure adequate building separation
  • Berm north side of buildings
  • Trees for wind protection

B. Facilities
1. High Visibility of Public Use

  • Lodge and Retail activities to have a street presence off 54th Street

2. Family Functions in more passive areas

  • Community Housing, Daycare to be located ion peripheries

3. Education Functions to relate closely to the existing campus

  • Ensure easy accessibility from Education functions to college pedestrian spine

4. Service Functions to be highly visible and accessible

  • Service functions become nodal points
  • Locate Student Centre, Lodge lobby, Community Centre on main walkways
  • Locate Community Centre at pedestrian crossroads

5. Plan for Mixed Functions

  • Combine functions of LIVING—WORKING—LEARNING

6. Provide Design Continuity with campus and surround community

  • Scale and massing of buildings to compliment existing campus, farmstead, and adjacent residential neighbourhood
  • Architectural vernacular and material selection to reflect regional characteristics
  • Relate to existing campus grid pattern
  • Grid planning

C. Circulation - Pedestrian
1. Separate Pedestrian from Vehicular Circulation

  • Keep vehicular traffic flow and parking on periphery
  • Control service-pedestrian circulation crossings
  • Extend existing north-south college pedestrian spine into Homestead

2.  Ensure strong Pedestrian relationship with:
       - Existing campus
       - 54th Street (collector to Downtown)
       - Farmstead
       - Existing Dining Centre

  • Extend 54th Street walkway into Homestead and through to Farmstead
  • Link the two pedestrian pathways to the Dining Centre

3. Link Public Facilities

  • Provide enclosed circulation network for retail, education, lodge, and restaurant facilities

4. Clearly define entry points

  • Buildings to form gateways

D. Circulation - Vehicular
1. Reorganize campus vehicular circulation

  • Provide ring road to direct traffic through campus

2. Clearly define entry points

  • Extend 54th Street into Homestead as major entry
  • Service and parking entries off ring road

3. Minimize Parking Visual Impact

  • Provide smaller, screen parking lots close to facilities

E. Open Space
1. Continue existing campus spatial order

  • Group buildings around open space
  • Use massing of trees and wind rows

2. Create well defined open spaces

  • Group facilities to form identifiable courts
    -STUDENT COURT: establish relationship to student housing and student centre
    -COMMUNITY COURT: relationship to Community Housing, and Community, Educational, and commercial facilities
    -CHILDREN'S COURT: relationship with Daycare Facility and Community Housing
    -URBAN EDGE: visual and functional relationship to garden plots and recreation fields, as well as proximity to Farmstead
    -RURAL EDGE:  visual and functional relationship to garden plots and recreation fields, as well as proximity to Farmstead

  3. Provide a variety of outdoor recreation areas

  • Baseball, football, hockey, tennis, garden plots to be on periphery
  • Free play areas to be in courts for easy supervision

F. Phasing
  Plan facilities and courts to be built incrementally

  • Phase 1
    -begin Student Court
  • Phase 2
    -Complete Student Court
    -Begin Community Court
    -Begin Urban Edge
  • Phase 3
    -Complete Urban Edge
    -Begin Children's Court
  • Phase 4
    - Complete Community Court
    -Complete Children's Court
    - Establish Rural Edge

G. Expansion
  Accommodate future development

  • Provide a variety of flexible spaces
  • Site plan to allow for future expansion

Energy conserving practices, as related to the heating and cooling of the buildings, are premised on  considerations made with respect to:

A. Energy
1. Use trees for wind buffer

  • planting close to the exterior walls to create a dead air space (insulative value)
  • massing of trees near building entrances, especially those on the north side of buildings to reduce wind velocities
  • Type and Colour of building materials

2. Landscape for snow drifting control

  • shrubs sited to increase turbulence to create localized scouring effect

3. Trees to intercept solar radiation

  • deciduous trees located on the south side of buildings can shade the glassed areas during the summer but still allow penetration of low winter sun

4. Use of ground cover at building base

  • influences frost penetration in the ground

B. Architectural Uses
1. Draw people outdoors

  • provide furniture and create spaces for various activities

2. Articulate exterior spaces

  • use landscape planting to define different spaces and help break down opens spaces into discernible units

3. Frame views

  • planting to be used to draw attention to the views, especially to the east

4. Reinforce design

  • direction of movement reinforced with planting
  • planting on south side of buildings and near entrances to link interior and exterior spaces

C. Engineering
1. Acoustical control

  • berming and heavy planting along Highway 2A to attenuate some sound from the traffic

2. Glare and reflection control

  • plants screen, blunt or soften glare and reflection

3. Traffic control

  • planting to direct movement through a space 



A. Energy

"The media of architecture includes energy. Design involves not only materials, methods and perceptions, but energy - its nature, supply and policy. The consideration of energy resources is not a constraint to design because it is of design, a part of the  environmental integration, that lends architecture strength and integrity."
                                                              ~ M.  Villeco, AIA Journal, Sept 1976

1. Configuration

  • Long East/West axis for
    -maximum solar radiation
    -natural ventilation
    -natural light penetration
  • massing of buildings to be simple shapes
  • minimize volume

2. Envelope

  • Walls
    -double wall construction R40 with sealed air barrier
    - use of berming on north side: south side exposed for maximum solar radiation
  • Glazing
    -minimum glazing on north side
    -use triple glazing except for sun spaces
  • Roof
    -simple roof lines
    - min R40 insulation with sealed air barrier
  • Materials
    -use materials requiring low energy in their production

3. Space Planning

  • Size spaces to meet, not exceed, functional requirements (
    eg. typical corridor widths range from 1.2 - 1.5m; use 1.2m)
    -double wall construction R40 with sealed air barrier
    - use of berming on north side: south side exposed for maximum solar radiation

4. Vertical Circulation

  • Minimize building height to 3 storeys above grade to minimize need for elevators

5. Ventilation

  • Provide operable windows for natural ventilation

6. Lighting

  • Optimize natural lighting
  • Minimize need for general space lighting, use task lights

7. Heating and Cooling

  • Use "Greenhouse Effect" to generate thermal energy
  • Conservative Loop transfers heat into storage
  • Natural convection removes excess heat
  • "Load Sharing" - transfers excess heat from inactive space to active space
    -transfers excess heat from heat generating space to heat requiring space

B. Unity of Design

  1. Grid Planning

  • Overall ordering

  2. Architectural Language

  • Maintain consistent building grid to facilitate design continuity and easy construction
  • Regional architectural characteristics and residential scale
    -pitched roofs, dormers, porches, colours
  • Similar architectural massing
  • Construction materials
    -brick and stucco walls
    -metal roofs
  • Greenhouses on south facade

C. Circulation

1. Social Activity

"Getting from one place to another is potentially a social activity. Therefore in a residence, corridors, stairwells become the village streets, front porches and corners."
                                                              ~ C.  Alexander, Pattern Language, p. 210

  • Provide sitting places and sheltered informal meeting places
  • Make entrances easily discernible and accessible

2. Procession

  • Private
    -individual unit
  • Semi-private
    -balcony, laundry room
  • Semi-public
    -corridor, lounge
  • Public
    -maintain entrances, major lower level corridors
  • Regional architectural characteristics and residential scale

  3. Nodal Points

  • Provide activity areas on major circulation paths (eg. Student Centre, Community Centre, Restaurant, Meditation Room)

D. Shared Space

  Common Facilities

  • Each building to have
    -laundry and mail rooms
    -garbage and recycling depot
    -workshops for hobbyists and handyman

E. Unit Open Space Planning

  Minimal Interior Partitions

  • Provide natural light penetration
  • Cost Effective
  • Opportunity for various spatial arrangements

F. Acoustical Separation

1. STC Rating

  • Floor and Wall systems are selected for high sound transmission class ratings

  2. Buffer Zones

  • Use storage, stairs, corridors, bathrooms and kitchens as noise buffer zones

A. Residences
"Encourage growth toward a mix of household types in every neighbourhood and every cluster, so that one person households, couples, families with children, and group households are side by side."
                                                              ~ C.  Alexander, Pattern Language, p. 190

The OLDS COLLEGE HOMESTEAD goes one step further by opening its doors to the community at large to provide opportunities for an interchange between College and Community people in aspects of LIVING, LEARNING AND WORKING.

  1. Cluster Housing

  • Six study bedrooms "clustered" around common living, dining, kitchen, bathroom and sunroom
  • Half-level spit separates private area from common area
  • Exit from units on both levels
  • Clusters linked by common staircase

 Cluster Housing Accommodation

Cluster Unit Size  
   Area M2

 6 Study Bedrooms @ 12M2  72
 Living, Dining, Kitchen  40
 Bathroom    8
 Circulation and Storage  22
 Sunroom    8

Total Area M2
Number Units 19

2. Community Housing

  • "Maisonette Units"
    -corridors on alternate floors
    -two exposures
    -cross ventilation
    -interior stairs
    -two means of exit (front & back doors)
  • Access to ground no more that one level
  • Half-level spit separates private area from common area
  • Exit from units on both levels


Community 1
 Unit  Size  
  One Bed  Area   M2
   A  B  C

Kit, Dining, Living  22  28  31
 Bedrooms  10.5  10.5  13.5
 Bathroom   3.5   3.5    3.5
 Storage & Cir   2.5   2.5    2.5
 Sunroom   6   6    8

Total Area M2 44.5 50.5 58.5
Number Units 18  7 10



Community 2
 Unit  Size  
  Two Bed  Area   M2
     A B

 Kit, Dining, Living    30 38
 Bedrooms    22.5  22.5
 Bathroom     4.5    4.5
 Storage & Cir   18 18
 Sunroom   12 18

Total Area per M2   87 101
Number of Units    7  18



 Community 3
  3 or 4 Beds     M2

 Kit, Dining, Living     38
 Bedrooms      40
 Bathroom        4.5
 Storage & Cir     18
 Sunroom     18

Total Area per M2     119
Number of Units      16


3. Student Housing

  • Student bedrooms which contain bath, kitchenette and sunspce
  • Auxiliary facilities
    -laundry, TV, Lounge, mailroom
  • Lower level accommodates Lodge service functions
  • Single Student and Cluster Housing acts as Lodge function in summer

​Student Housing Accommodation

  Unit  Size    
   A  B  C D

Study-Bedroom  18  20.5  25.5 23.5
Bathroom   3.5    3.5    3.5   3.5
Sunspace   5.5    6    6  ---

Total Area  M2 24 30 35 27
Number Units 24  10   6 12


4. Lodge

  • Bedrooms with contained bath
  • A link facilitates easy access
  • Lobby serves as administrative and circulation "Hub"
  • Ramped walkway to Lounge and Restaurant; connects to other Retail functions
  • Separation of Guest and Public circulation from service circulation

 Lodge Space Program

Lodge Rooms
 Unit  Size  
   A  B  C

Bedroom  17.5  30.5  31.5
Bathroom   3.5   3.5    3.5

Total Area M2 21 34 35
Number Units 30  2 3


Public Spaces


Lobby/Lounge/ Registration 100
Ramped Walkway   60
Sunspace/Seminar Rooms 250

                           Total Area M2 410


General Service


Manager/Accounting/ Offices   40
Staff, student locker Rooms 100
Laundry, Linen   65
Maintenance, Janitorial 100
Furniture, General Storage 240

                          Total Area M2 545

B. Retail

  • Single loaded ramped mall
  • Interior connects to living spaces
  • Connects with Education and Lodge functions
  • Mall acts as thermal buffer
  • Functions can utilize exterior courts

Retail Accommodation


1. Unassigned Lease Space (12-18 spaces) 950
2. Convenience Area 240

3. Restaurant (180 Seats)
       Seating Area                                 450
       Kitchen, classroom, offices        250
       Washrooms                                    30
       Food, Beverage Storage               100
       Receiving, Garbage Rooms   





4. Cocktail Lounge (80 Seats)
        Seating Area                                150
        Washrooms                                   30
         Bar Service                                    10




                                                                   Total Area M2 2210

 C. Educational Facilities

1. Specialized Teaching Facilities

  • Grouped to accommodate heavy electrical, mechanical and plumbing services
  • Associated with community functions

2. General Classrooms

  • Mix with other functions
  • Movable and knockout panels for space flexibility

Educational Accommodation

Courses Spaces  Requirements M2

Arts & Crafts Painting
Fibre Crafts
Photo & Graphics

Natural light
Kiln Room
Bulk, storage
Fire, Acoustic

Shop Metal
Fire /Acoustic

Animal Science Classroom
Acoustic Sep
Creative Living 2 Labs
2 Seminar
Food Preparation
Fire Separation
Academic 3 Classrooms
3 Seminar
Language Lab
Business 3 Classrooms
Audio-visual 300
Family Life/Leisure 2 Classrooms
5 Seminar
2 Labs
Greenhousing   Elevator 700

        Total Area M2


D. Community Barn

  • Functions of specialized education (eg. woodwork, arts and crafts, metalwork) and green housing linked by a galleria
  • Galleria becomes Community Hall for large Campus,Town, and Homestead gatherings
  • Plazas at ends of galleria for outdoor activities
  • Facility opened for general community use when formal classes are not being held

E. Community Services

  • Amenities for College, Homestead and Town use
  • Located for easy access

1. Student Centre

Student Centre Accommodation


Info Centre/Offices  18
Lounge  64
Student Union, News Off   80
Games Area 100
Amphitheatre, change room, storage 240

                               Total Area M2 545


2. Meditation Centre

Meditation Centre Accommodation


Solarium Area 190
Office & Meeting Space  60

                               Total Area M2 250

3. Daycare Centre

"A Daycare should be viewed as part of larger scheme (a neighbourhood, a community, a city) rather than an isolated facility to serve only a single need."
                             ~ Utzinger, p. 75

Daycare  Accommodation

Activities  Requirements M2

Morning Inspection

Coat & boot room

Nourishment  Kitchen

Playroom 2.5 M2 per Child 170
Sleeping & Eating Use Playroom   —
Playground 4.5 M2 per Child   —
Bathrooms 1 basin & 1 WC
per 15 Children
Other Support
(Laundry, office,
parents work room,
sick room, staff room)

      Total Area M2


4. Community Centre

Community Centre Accommodation


Lounge 80
Kitchen   4.5
Storage   8

                               Total Area M2 92.5

The project goal is to minimize energy consumption through the use of building science methodologies, land-use planning, food production, efficient space planning, appropriate material selection, user participation, and appropriate energy technologies.

The realization of this project will assist the College in the demonstration and development of energy efficient solutions.

Homesteading, as a way of life, is a very familiar and important concept to prairie people. For our modern interpretation of homesteading, the new frontier is energy.  The challenge is to provide proper stewardship of energy and resources initiated on a community level.

The college setting provides the opportunity to learn about and experience energy related problems and work towards finding and incorporating solutions.

The project stems from an agricultural base.  The rural setting, at Olds, is ideal for initiating a strong energy conserving technology and life-style.  Farmers have traditionally engaged in energy efficient energy use. The Homestead Project attempt to build on TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES, architecturally, sociologically, as well as technologically.

Site planning takes advantage of energy efficient principles. SOLAR ORIENTATION provides the prime organizing feature. The buildings generally face south to accommodate active and passive solar techniques. Buildings are set apart to MINIMIZE WINTER SHADING and on significant outdoor spaces and on other buildings.

The Olds College Homestead is organized around FOUR MAJOR COURTS AND THREE MAJOR PEDESTRIAN AVENUES. Facilities are located on two existing gravel parking lots south of the Student Residence. Active functions are near the busier highway, while passive functions are located adjacent to the farmstead. The existing college pedestrian spine is extended to connect the College with the Homestead.  Community facilities, public gathering places and special amenities occur at the crossroads which are nodal points. A ring road separates vehicular and pedestrian circulation.

Many variables are considered during the design process. Energy, although important to the project, is still but one variable. The architecture takes on a rural aesthetic.  The roof lines are strong and expansive. Gables and shed dormers further compliment the residential character of the building massing and are in keeping with the surrounding neighbourhood. Entries are intimate in scale, and facade articulation gives some unit identification.  Special amenities such as public gathering places are further articulated.

Several meeting places are provided. The commercial mall, restaurants and sitting areas stimulate community interaction. Walks, nodes, views, are organized in such a way as to allow people to meet.

Landscaping is considered in energy planning. Trees and earth berms protect buildings from cold north winds, direct and diffuse wind from entries, and trees provide summer shading over window areas. The articulation of spaces, framing of views and definition of pedestrian circulation are enhanced with landscaping.

Energy conserving practices, as related to the heating and cooling of the buildings, are premised on  considerations made with respect to:

  • Flexible range of space comfort conditions
  • Space utilization
  • Shape and Orientation
  • Type and Colour of building materials
  • Type and thickness of insulation
  • Size and position of windows, doors, walls, floors, roofs
  • Flagging heat gain and heat loss areas in a building
  • Use of solar heat gain
  • Exhaust of excess heat
  • Use of mass for thermal storage
  • Control of infiltration
  • Control of ventilation through natural or mechanical means
  • Use of natural daylighting
  • Effect of lighting, people and equipment in loads

The goal is to lower energy requirements first, before a mechanical system is designed.

Calculations of heat loss/heat gain are done for four buildings representing selected qualities:

  1. Lodge - a north-south orientation
  2. Cluster/Retail - multi-use
  3. Community Housing - single use
  4. Community Barn - large volumes

In December, for example, the analysis confirms that  passive solar heat gain provides 50-55% of the heating load required for the Community Barn; and 80-85% of the heating for the Lodge is achieved by passive means.

Considerable savings are accrued both in energy consumption and in sizing the mechanical system.  With the introduction of heat storage, excesses can be utilized when required.

In a mechanically assisted convective system, air is moved by low static pressure centrifugal fans.  Air volume and temperature can therefore be monitored and controlled to achieve optimal heat transfer efficiencies.  Heat is normally transferred to a hydronic system which acts as the infinite heat sink. Gas boilers are then used only to maintain a fixed temperature.  Excess heat from the sunspaces can be diverted to eutectic salt storage.  By means of heat exchangers, the hydronic system can utilize this stored heat as required. Any overheating is accommodated by exhaust fans in the mechanical penthouse or by natural means (openable windows).

 A master control (logic analyzer) monitors and provides close control of all energy systems and components. Among the activities the microprocessor has the ability to control are:

  • Night setback of thermostats
  • Use of outside air for cooling;
  • Control fresh air supply
  • Lighting control systems
  • Optimal electric loading cycles
  • Optimal star and stop of boiler systems

 Included in management is individual unit shuttering devices, openable windows and doors, consumption of hot water, use of electricity and recycling.  All these issues belong to the realm of personal management of energy consumption.

Unlike space heating, the domestic hot water system is localized to the units within a 6 meter building section. Water is preheated passively, and supplied to each unit where a small in-line water heater boosts the temperature. Residents of each section have direct control over the temperature quality of the water. Modifications, both individual and communal, can be made to improve the system.




30 30 60
52 52 104
114 114 114
     1 BEDROOM
     2 BEDROOM
     3 BEDROOM





Total Homestead building area (lodge, single student housing, cluster/retail, cluster housing 2, community housing/education 1, community housing/education 2, community housing/daycare 3, community housing 4, community barn, mall/central heating plan) is approximately 26,629 M2 (286,642 SF). Preliminary costing (including design, landscaping and site development costs) equates to $20,055,675 (1981) / $59,565355 (2021).


  • Mixed use development
  • Efficient land-use
  • Pedestrian community
  • Local food production
  • Energy Conserving Design
  • Waste recovery
  • Energy Management

Mixed Use Development
Housing is integrated with retail, educational, and community amenity facilities. This facilitates efficient energy use over a 24 hour period, through the ability to use heat transfer system and double use of spaces.

Efficient Land Use
Greater Energy Efficiencies are achieved with higher density housing. This also frees valuable land for recreation, food production and general community use.

Pedestrian Community
Local shops and amenities are provided for residents, within easy walking distance, thereby reducing dependence on automobile transportation.

Local Food Production
Garden plots and greenhouses are provided to allow residents to produce their own food if they so desire.

Energy Conserving Design
All buildings incorporated conservation measures based on principals of thermal efficiency, and are oriented to take advantage of solar gain for space and water heating.

Waste Recovery
Waste recovery strategies include: vacuum sanitary waste collection systems
-black water system
-grey water system
Anaerobic (methane) digestor system
Algae Ponds

In addition to the recycling systems for waste water collection areas for paper, glass, plastics, and metals are located in each building.  A centralized depot for further processing is located in the community barn.

Energy Management
A microprocessor monitors and controls all energy drawing systems and components, individual units are metered to identity energy use.

Analysis of the heating load profiles for four typical buildings indicate energy savings between 75-93%. The thermal efficiency of these Homestead Buildings rests on the high proportion of south facing glass and a good, airtight, insulated envelope with shuttering systems.

"To engage in energy conservation throughout the entire social system will require greater cooperation between the various sectors of our society. Government, regulatory bodies, and federal, provincial and municipal standards authorities all have roles to play."

~ Science Council of Canada, Report 17, p. 46

 The work presented here represents an alternative for the planned expansion of Olds College. Future work involves extensive liaison with the college and the provincial government, especially the department of advanced education and manpower. This work will include further refinement of the college's education programs, housing needs, future program requirements, and  a more extensive investigation of the project's capital and operating costs.  This information will be presented to the Provincial Government for review and assessmemnt and hopefully approval.

"Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun, and I say its all right;
Little darling, it's been a long lonely winter;
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear;
Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun, and I say it's all right."

                                            ~ George Harrison

Alberta is rich in both renewable and non-renewable resources.  Oil, natural gas. coal and agriculture will continue to play strong roles in the province's economy.  The challenge for the future is to develop further the renewable potential; to become a diversified leader in the energy sector.




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