Energy savings planned for Latimer neighbourhood in Willoughby

Langley Township is planning to build its next Willoughby neighbourhood to maximize energy efficiency and green design.

An open house for the Latimer Neighbourhood Plan was held Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.

The Latimer area wraps around 200th Street and begins just south of the 200th Street interchange, beyond the existing office complexes there.

It stretches as far south as 72nd Avenue. The neighbourhood forms a rectangular doughnut around the Jericho sub-neighbourhood in its centre, which has its own planning process.

One feature in the current proposed plan is to orient almost all the side streets east-west through the community.

The idea is to save vast amounts of energy by simply aligning home with the sun for better heating a cooling.

“It maximizes solar access for future houses,” said Ryan Schmidt, Langley Township’s community energy manager.

Houses are to be oriented with their front and rear windows aimed south and north. For the townhouses that will make up a large portion of the area, this will mean no east-west facing windows for most homes.

That design does two things: during warm summer days, it eliminates or reduces the hot late afternoon sun coming in from the west, preventing homes from becoming too hot, and in the cold winter months, it encourages more sunlight to come in through windows at the front of the house. This is intended to keep summer cooling and winter heating bills down.

Theoretically, it could save homeowners up to 30 per cent on heating and cooling costs.

The houses are also well-positioned if developers or owners want to install solar panels for electricity at any point.

“We’re really creating a solar-ready community” said Schmidt.

He wasn’t aware of any other communities in the Lower Mainland that are looking at using a simple street design and house orientation plan to save energy.

The plan also looks at how many schools could be needed for Latimer.

The area currently only includes one school, R.E. Mountain Secondary.

With an expected population of around 20,000 people, the Latimer neighbourhood will need four elementary schools and a new middle school, according to the Township’s projections. Two elementary schools are planned for each side of 200th.

The Township estimates there could be 1,000 elementary students, 500 middle school students in Grades 6-8, and 600 high school students.

Along with parks and playgrounds, the plan calls for some one-acre forested areas known as “wildlife habitat patches.”

There could also be quarter-acre “urban greens,” public grassy areas near businesses or public amenities.

Two living walls – walls covered with built-in plant life – are planned for 200th Street at 80th Avenue and 76th Avenue.

Eventually, 200th Street could be rebuilt to accommodate rapid buses, something that would have to be done with TransLink, an agency beleaguered with budget woes. The final design could be four lanes for cars, bike lanes on either side, and down the center of the street, two separated lanes for buses.

With buses on the horizon, parking remains an issue for residents.

At a survey during a previous open house, 65 per cent of people filling out a survey said that reducing parking conflicts was important or very important. Parking issues have already arisen in several other Willoughby neighbourhoods, particularly Yorkson, to the east.

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