EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Sept. 24, 2013) - The Drake Landing Solar Community in Okotoks, AB today received the prestigious 2013 International Energy Agency (IEA) Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) Programme SOLAR AWARD in Freiburg, Germany. The award recognizes significant achievements in solar thermal market development and reductions in market barriers.

ATCO Gas and Sterling Homes accepted the award on behalf of the partners, which also include the Town of Okotoks and United Communities. Completed in 2007, Drake Landing Solar Community has North America's first large-scale seasonal storage solar heating system and is home to 52 solar-heated residences.

The innovative design of the community allows solar energy to be absorbed during the summer months, stored underground and returned to homes as heat in the winter. In 2012, the community surpassed its own world record by achieving nearly 100 per cent of space heating needs from solar energy.

"As the operator of this facility, ATCO Gas is pleased that the Drake Landing Solar Community continues to be recognized as a world leader in solar thermal energy," said Bill Stephens, President, ATCO Gas. "This is a landmark project for us that demonstrates our ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship."

This is the second international award received by the Drake Landing Solar Community. In 2011, it earned the Energy Globe World Award for Sustainability by achieving more than 80 per cent of the community's space heating requirements from solar energy.

The IEA's SHC Programme was created in 1977. Its objectives are co-operative research, development, demonstration and exchange of information regarding solar heating and cooling systems. Twenty countries and the European Union are IEA SHC members.

ATCO Gas is an Alberta based, province-wide natural gas distribution company that serves nearly 1.1 million customers in nearly 300 Alberta communities and is part of the ATCO Group of Companies. ATCO Group, with more than 9,400 employees and assets of approximately $15 billion, delivers service excellence and innovative business solutions worldwide with leading companies engaged in structures & logistics (manufacturing, logistics and noise abatement), utilities (pipelines, natural gas and electricity transmission and distribution), energy (power generation, natural gas gathering, processing, storage and liquids extraction) and technologies (business systems solutions). More information can be found at www.atco.com.

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