Green travel Canada

Canada has no shortage of organic and local restaurants, and plenty of footprint-conscious hoteliers that go far beyond simply asking you to hang your towels. The country also offers myriad fun and enriching experiences for eco-inclined travellers. Here, a smattering of seven earth-friendly installations, sites and buildings scattered across Canada.

1. The Eye of the Wind, Vancouver, BC
It looms high above Vancouver, a lofty landmark doubling as a beacon of hope. But The Eye of The Wind, perched atop Grouse Mountain — which sweeps up from the city’s north flank — is more than just another windmill on a stick. Guests can ride an elevator 65 m (213 ft) up the outside of the tower to the “viewPOD”, located just one m (3.5 ft) behind the giant spinning blades. It’s a heady spot, and not only for the jaw-dropping 360º views. At top speed, the blades — which supply the ski resort with about a quarter of its annual energy needs — can spin at 300 km/h (175 mph).

2. Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Joggins, NS
The Joggins Fossil Cliffs on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia are not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a prime destination for armchair paleontologists, but also a magnet for sustainable travellers. The visitor’s centre — located on a former coal-mining site now gradually being replanted with flora native to the Acadian region — is an elegant and green building. It features a 50-kW wind turbine, solar hot-water system, passive solar design and roof that collects rainwater for later use in bathrooms. There’s even priority parking for hybrids.

3. Habitat 07, Baie-Saint-Paul, QC
The visitor’s welcome centre for Baie-Saint-Paul — the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, about an hour’s drive northwest of Québec City — offers more than brochures, driving directions and a nice view of the St. Lawrence River. The compacted-straw structure doubles as a sustainable-building education centre called Habitat 07. Staff highlights the building’s exceptional insulation values, living roof and multiple onsite renewable-energy technologies: solar thermal, solar photovoltaic and wind. (Open during the summer season only.)

4. Austria Passive House, Whistler, BC
Whistler already has much to offer green travellers, but the Austria Passive House is a destination in and of itself. With its bleeding-edge construction, insulation and air-circulation techniques, this is among the most energy-efficient buildings in the country. A consortium of Austrian companies designed and prefabricated the entire structure in Europe and shipped it, in pieces, to British Columbia to serve as the headquarters for the Austrian Olympic Committee and Austrian broadcasting company during the 2010 Winter Games. Post-Games, the space will host a pair of local outdoor-recreation groups — and welcome green-leaning visitors.

5. Irving Eco-Centre, Bouctouche, NB
The Irving Eco-Centre, also known as La Dune de Bouctouche, invites travellers to explore one the few remaining great sand dunes on the northeastern coastline of North America. A two-km (1.24-mi) boardwalk winds through this saltwater estuary, allowing visitors to view shorebirds while safely exploring and learning about the fragile ecosystem. Parks Canada made the centre a finalist for its Sustainable Tourism Award in 2007.

6. Exchange District, Winnipeg, MB
Winnipeg‘s Exchange District offers guided walking tours of the green buildings and sustainable urban-planning activities centered in and around this city’s historic downtown neighbourhood. The district is home to some of the most forward-thinking and innovative “green buildings” in Canada — i.e., the award-winning Red River College Princess Street Campus, a retrofitted heritage building. The 45-minute tour also touches on alternative transportation and energy conservation, and visits a nearby roof garden atop an outdoor equipment store.

7. Craik Sustainable Living Project, Craik, SK
The Craik Sustainable Living Project, in Craik, SK, 120 km (75 mi) north of Regina, is a living success story of how a small prairie town can build a stronger and greener future. The timber-frame and straw-bale Eco-Centre is a 557-sq-m (6,000-sq-ft) multi-purpose facility that features innovative and energy-efficient building design, plus integrated heating, cooling and electrical systems. Meanwhile, the adjacent Eco-Village is a sort of living lab of green building techniques and materials.

Article courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.