Sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance. It is more than just a growing trend; sustainability is a necessity. Since the world is facing some grave environmental consequences from the pollution and ignorance of eco-friendly practices, it is more imperative than ever to produce communities that emphasize the importance of sustainable living. Green initiatives are present throughout London, Ontario whether it is recycling awareness in schools, eco-friendly homes, using the internet instead of paper, using solar panels or the City Green Community etc. These initiatives are fantastic, but there is a lack of community-based, comprehensive sustainability. That’s about to change with the development of Ontario’s first sustainable community of its kind, right in our Forest City! Sifton is currently constructing West 5, their ambitious vision of a small, net-zero village in west London. What is net-zero you ask? The answer is simple; a community that produces as much energy as it consumes each year. This development is a commitment to think about the future in regards to saving energy and being environmentally friendly. It is located at the gates of West London, and is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city but easily connects to major arteries throughout. The specifications of West 5 include 450,000 square feet of commercial space and 2,000 townhomes, condominiums, apartments and retirement residences. The goal of this development is to create a community that lives and grows with each other. The small village-like subdivision will boast everything a resident may need, from retail stores to pathways and trails, restaurants, parking, events and fitness/recreational opportunities – all in a sustainable manner, ensuring energy savings in all aspects.

Sustainable Village

The West 5 complex isn’t so much a place to give back to the community; it’s a green district that relies on sustainable resources for energy. The hope here is that by drawing power from unlimited natural elements (such as the sun), the use of our limited natural resources on earth will decrease over time while simultaneously benefiting the community in different ways. The implementation of solar panels will generate clean electricity and reduce energy costs at the same time. Solar parkades will not only keep your car safe from the heat, rain and snow; they will also generate a ton of power for the community. Solar energy is a resource that we will be able to use for years and years to come. By implementing solar power into the neighbourhood, Sifton is setting the residents up for energy savings not only today but for the future. Electric vehicle charge ports will be installed. These will add to the appeal of purchasing an electric vehicle for those who are living in the community. These ports will eventually give back to the town over and over again by reducing gas consumption, meaning more money in pockets and a greener planet in the future. There are also plans to include high-performance road surfaces. These surfaces will improve the speed of snow and ice melting, reducing the amount of salt needed throughout the neighbourhood.

Office and Retail Spaces

This groundbreaking initiative will start with the creation of Sifton’s Head Office, a state-of-the-art building that is being designed and constructed to power itself. This is about creating the most amazing lifestyle that you can enjoy today and tomorrow. West 5 is committing itself to providing the most cutting-edge and modern office spaces. These offices won’t only be environmentally friendly but will also provide companies with the most advanced workspaces. Companies who possess a progressive, forward thinking philosophy will no doubt show interest in this leasing opportunity. There are two main office buildings, the Sifton Centre and the retail and office spaces spread throughout the subdivision. The Sifton Centre offers first and second-floor office opportunities, as well as ground floor retail. The Mixed-Use Retail & Office Buildings will have four floors of office leasing opportunities. These office buildings are complete with net-zero efficiency and have been developed to power themselves. 1st building is Net Zero – designed and constructed to power itself 2nd-floor tenants will overlook the green roof. The windows are made of thermal glass and automatically tint, adjusting to the sunlight. The office spaces are surrounding by retail, restaurants and activity – leaving no shortage of things to do over lunch etc. There is free WiFi in all public areas of West 5. Cyclists can take advantage of the indoor secured bicycle parking, and drivers will benefit from free parking. As of April 2018, there are five companies are located in the Sifton Centre. Backroads Brews & Shoes London, MedPoint Executive Fitness, Edward Jones Investments, West Five Family Dentistry. Sifton Properties even uprooted their downtown office and made a move to the West 5 spaces. Backroads Brews & Shoes is an amalgamation of running and coffee. The owners are avid long-distance runners and have committed to opening up a shop that specialises in running. The retail store sells all running apparel and the owners are shoe fit experts. They wanted to add a twist to your run of the mill running store and added a cafe to it. The best part? They’re licensed and feature local beers on tap, such as Anderson Cream Ale and Toboggan Stout. This creates a space where people come together whether it’s after a day of shopping, before or after the running club meets up, or just while you’re walking through the complex! These businesses are just the beginning for the office spaces in the West 5 community. They expect to see it flourish in the next few years and fill up with an array of different businesses from retail stores to restaurants. The implementation of businesses to this village-like neighbourhood is crucial to turn it into a self-sustaining community, economically speaking.

Townhomes and Residences

The townhomes are scheduled to be complete by the end of spring, and residents are now officially renting. Potential renters can choose from seven contemporary suite styles. These include 2-bedroom, 2-bedroom and den, 3-bedroom, 3-bedroom and den. The townhomes will have a selection of modern paint colours, designer finishes and beautiful 9ft ceilings in the main living areas. Details in the suites include luxury vinyl plank flooring, luxury carpeting in bedrooms and glazed porcelain tile in the bathrooms. Kitchens boast fresh cabinetry, and quartz countertops and Energy Star certified stainless steel appliances (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer). Every suite is, of course, wired for cable, internet and phone. A bonus for townhome renters is the ample parking for themselves and guests, as well as multiple private garages and private terraces. Community living is an inescapable part of West 5’s success. To achieve a completely sustainable net-zero community, the homes within must use a lot less energy than typical housing. To make the homes more energy efficient, specific differences in the development were made. Firstly, additional insulation is fitted in the townhouse walls, thus ensuring the living area is better protected from cold weather, and heat is trapped more efficiently within the home without air leaking out. The furnaces are top of their line. They are modulating electric heaters which use advanced technologies to decrease temperature fluctuations. These furnaces continuously carry warm air from one place to another, ensuring the home is always at a consistent temperature. For additional energy saving, the townhomes boast drain water heat recovery. As warm water from showers and sinks goes down the drain, it passes over a system of copper coils. These coils capture the existing heat from the hot water and use that to pre-heat incoming cold water. LED lighting is the norm for West 5. LED lights are much more efficient than the alternative and can last over twenty years. The fresh urban architecture will impress potential residents and retirees looking to move. These will boast 100% energy efficiency and will be complete with Energy Star rated appliances. Retirement residents can enjoy planned events and activities and partake in personalised wellness support services. Since West 5 is a village complete with restaurants and shopping, this gives retirement residents freedom to enjoy the community without worrying about driving far.

Central Park

The community aspect of West 5 is incomparable to any other neighbourhood in the city. To bring people together in a village-like environment, Sifton is incorporating a Central Park. The park will bring West 5 to life, adding a pleasant and comfortable aspect to the neighbourhood. This is imperative to bringing a community closer together as the park is where residents can enjoy time outside, walk their dogs and be active. The park is located centrally so residents have super quick access to it. The housing and the complex at large are interconnected through pathways, trails and open green spaces. The official West 5 website pegs the area as a possessing pedestrian-centric design. The focus on allowing residents to freely walk around with no worries about bustling streets with cars is always a plus. Central Park, while being environmentally friendly, is a place to bring residents together. It is designed to be a premier destination for not just residents of the neighbourhood but all Londoners with a variety of events going on throughout the year. Sifton envisions events like Easter egg hunts, movies at twilight, food festivals, concerts, yoga sessions, the lighting of the Christmas tree. Food markets on Saturday mornings and outdoor games area make Central Park the number one place for residents to gather. We value the concept of modern technology advancing the use of renewable resources. Who wouldn’t? We have been burning through our natural resources at a rate faster than the planet can handle and change must happen. West 5 is a big leap for the residential and commercial industry, and if it’s successful, it could be a turning point for future developments in southwestern, Ontario. What is your opinion on West 5? Do you think a net-zero community is attainable, or too ambitious? Let us know on any of our social media links down below and don’t forget to comment, like and share!