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Synergy at Dockside Green

Victoria, British Columbia

Green Harbor: The first phase of a mixed-use development in Victoria, B.C., has exceeded social and ecological expectations.

By Cody Adams

Though the unfinished Dockside Green development represents one of the most ambitious LEED-Canada projects at 1.2 million square feet of retail, commercial, and residential space, the first phase of the project, the Platinum-rated Synergy, impressed judges enough by itself to rank as a 2009 COTE winner. Located in Victoria, British Columbia, and designed by Busby Perkins+Will of Vancouver, Synergy consists of three mid-rise residential buildings with limited commercial space, as well as a two-story townhouse. When completed, Dockside Green will house 2,500 people in three neighborhoods, though the current Synergy phase only houses around 180. As a testament to the extreme ambition of the project, Dockside will forfeit $1 million as a penalty if it fails to achieve a universal LEED-Canada Platinum rating.

Synergy at Dockside Green. Victoria, British Columbia
Photo © Enrico Dagostini
Synergy at Dockside Green. Victoria, British Columbia
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LOCATION: Victoria, B.C., Canada (Victoria Harbour)

GROSS SQUARE FOOTAGE: 178,369 ft2 (16,570 m2)

COST: $45 million

ANNUAL PURCHASED ENERGY USE (based on simulation): 57 kBtu/ft2 (643 MJ / m2), 58% reduction from base case

ANNUAL CARBON FOOTPRINT (predicted): 0.7 lbs. CO2 / ft2 (3.3 kg CO2 / m2)

PROGRAM: Residential units, commercial space, underground parking

Canada NC Version 1 Platinum

OWNER: Windmill West and CanCity Developments
ARCHITECT: Busby Perkins+Will Architects
INTERIOR DESIGNER: False Creek Design Group
LANDSCAPE: PWL Partnership
ENGINEERS: Read Jones Christoffersen (structural),Stantec Engineering (MEP), Komex International, RCL Consulting (civil)
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Farmer Constructors
CONSULTANTS: Wakefield Acoustics (acoustical), Stantec Consulting (lighting and energy), Aqua-Tex Scientific (ecology/stormwater management), Andy Payne (cost consultant), Quantum Environmental Remediation (environmental soils), Focus (surveyor), C.N. Ryzuk & Associates (geotechnical), Boulevard Transportation Group (traffic), Gage-Babcock & Associates (code), Morrison Hershfield Limited (envelope)

Synergy proves its environmental chops from the ground up, completely rehabilitating an industrial brownfield site on Victoria’s harbor. The structures will be dominated on the south by a greenway that will absorb stormwater, filtering it and integrating it into the comprehensive rain and wastewater system that treats intake for irrigation and toilet flushing.

The greenway will also provide healthy recreational space for the emerging Dockside community. Developer Joseph Van Belleghem observed that the “rooftop gardens on one of the buildings [serve] as a community gathering spot.” These gardens have been so successful, in fact, that the next phase of construction, “Balance,” will greatly expand this feature.

Besides the water-management system and greenway, the residential units are optimized to use as little energy as possible, with a biomass energy plant on site that provides heat and hot water. Synergy utilizes regional hydropower which, along with photovoltaics, greatly reduces the carbon footprint. Busby Perkins+Will notes that systems have been so effective that Dockside Green has started treating municipal sewage and actually generating revenue. Along with selling surplus heat from the over-performing biomass gasification system to a neighboring hotel, Dockside functions as completely carbon neutral, without the need for offset certificates as originally thought.

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This article appeared in the July 2009 print issue of GreenSource Magazine.

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