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April 01, 2008

Green living: Oslo-style

Beltline beauty comes complete with a good conscience

L. Sara Bysterveld

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Europe is recognized the world over for its leading environmental protection policies and green initiatives. So it is only fitting that Oslo at Kai Towers, a Scandinavian-influenced high-rise condo project located in the Beltline, is also an industry leader in Calgary when it comes to environmentally friendly features and amenities.

Comprised of two high-rise towers, the Homburg Centron Teamworks project is currently under construction and will adhere to BuiltGreen standards. In fact, Kai Towers is Calgary's first multi-storey BuiltGreen project.
"We chose BuiltGreen not only because we would like to help contribute to the reduction and overall impact that construction and development has on our environment, but as well aim to encourage practical and sustainable building practices in our industry," says Allison Clark, sales and marketing manager for the Centron Group of Companies.

Everything from the location of the towers to their eco-friendly interior finishes and built-in green amenities either lends itself to a low-impact lifestyle or encourages residents to make earth-friendly choices. The location, at 11 Avenue and 12 Street in Calgary's rejuvenated Beltline and in the heart of the Design District, boasts an impressive list of amenities within a short radius—from downtown offices and the Bow River pathway to the thriving social hub of the Mission and 17 Avenue districts, most everything you could want is within walking or biking distance, and if its not, chances are it's a short C-Train ride away. To further encourage residents to ride on two wheels rather than four, there will be 487 bike/storage units.

The building itself will feature some impressive amenities, including Il Pescatore and the Red Water Rustic Grille, with other possible retailers including a wine store, interior design shop and cafe. Amenities exclusively for resident use include a fitness and rejuvenation centre in Tower One (the Oslo) and a multi-purpose room in Tower Two.

Notably "green" are the green roofs, fully-landscaped rooftop patios that not only offer residents a great space for relaxing and entertaining, but also reduce the "urban heat island effect," caused by the sun's reflection off of many light-coloured urban rooftops.

The bones of the building support the BuiltGreen strategy, with studs made of recycled steel, an efficient irrigation system, individual suite metering, premium heating and hot water systems, in-suite recycling bins and a central recycling centre.

But when you step into the sales centre, featuring vignettes of the kitchen and the bathroom and showcasing the interior finishes of the project, the state of our planet is not the first thing that comes to mind—these finishes may be highly eco-friendly, but they are also simple, modern and beautiful, keeping with an overall Scandinavian-feel.

Bamboo is a popular choice here, with bamboo laminate floors and cabinets making a definite statement. Caesar-stone counter-tops in the kitchen; bold, sophisticated fixtures; dual flush toilets; unique resin-and-pebble backsplash and; glass vanity-mounted bowl sinks in the bathroom are all eye-catchers.

The best part? "There are very few upgrades in the project," says Clark. "Almost everything you see in the sales centre is standard."

The clean lines and simple designs of the interior specifications are just part of the European inspiration. Suites in the Oslo are named after streets in Oslo, Norway, and Clark explains that all spaces within the condos have been carefully examined to maximize efficiency, a trait common to European homes.

The 266 units (over 32 storeys) in the Oslo range in size from the 536-square-foot, one- bedroom Ibsen to the 1,602-square-foot Juel penthouse, and also include one-bedroom-plus-den and two-bedroom plans. Pricing starts in the mid-$300,000s, and possessions in the Oslo are expected in winter 2009.The 28-storey, 192-unit second tower will commence construction in spring 2009, with possessions expected in summer 2010.

As Clark explains, "examining construction timelines is very important" when shopping for a condo. She advises buyers to look at the developer's history—do they do what they said they were going to do, in the amount of time they said it was going to take, for the amount they said it would cost?

In that vein, she points to the strong reputation of Homburg Centron Teamworks. "Although residential development in Calgary specifically is fairly new for us, in the last couple of years we've had tremendous success in project completion, as well as getting a handle on costs, and performing."

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