While green buildings and the use of sustainable development principles seem to be on the rise in many North American cities, few are so clearly on the forefront of this trend as the award-winning Dockside Green community in the City of Victoria. This 15-acre master-planned waterfront community has attracted international attention for being a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum project, planned in a way that incorporates economic, environmental and social objectives into its design. Adhering strictly to the pillars of smart growth, New Urbanism, green building and sustainable community design, Dockside Green is the talk of urban planners, architects and sustainability activists locally and around the world. Here are four very good reasons why:
1) It’s completely carbon neutral. Dockside Green utilizes an on-site biomass gasification plant which uses waste wood to supply the development with energy for heating and hot water. The buildings themselves are built to a high standard of energy efficiency using 45 to 55% less energy than the Canadian Model National Energy Code, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, as a mixed-use community, it is planned in a way so as to be walkable and encourages the use of alternative transportation (i.e. access to bike lanes).
2) It is a redevelopment of a contaminated site. Prior to the construction of the project, the site was considered a brownfield, that is, it had been used for many years for light industry but was left abandoned and contained hazardous waste. Brownfields pose threats to human health and environmental quality apart from having little economic value. So as part of the environmental, social, and economic mandate of Dockside Green, the developers embarked on a large-scale brownfield cleanup. While this was an expensive process, it has transformed the site into a green space while increasing residential and commercial space, reducing pressure on existing land, creating employment, and improving human health in the area (BC Gov, 2013).
3) It has onsite sewage treatment and is water efficient. With Greater Victoria’s notorious sewage problems, experts have cited the Dockside Green model as an innovative way forward that the CRD should look at (Sun, 2013). The onsite sewage treatment plant uses ultrafiltration to treat both solid and liquid waste and, in fact, sits right below the restaurant without any odour complaints as of yet (Sun, 2013). The water that results from the treatment process is used for flushing toilets, landscape irrigation and water features making it a highly efficient, water conserving system. Rainwater is also reused by being captured and stored for domestic and irrigation purposes and redirected into an ecologically functional watercourse that mimics the natural hydrological cycle (O’Riordan, Lucey, Barraclough, & Corps, 2008). On the topic of water conservation, potable water consumption is estimated to be 65% less than most developments because of its high efficiency water fixtures and appliances.
4) It’s a healthy place to work and live. As mentioned, Dockside Green is a mixed residential and commercial development encouraging people to live where they work and shop and walk/ bike in a safe and vibrant community. Apart from their environmental health benefits, green buildings are often designed with human health goals in mind as well. Dockside Green buildings use a 100% fresh air system through heat recovery from the exhaust which results in a better indoor air quality than most other buildings.
I could go on with more reasons for what makes Dockside Green important, like its use of environmentally friendly materials, organic waste collection, green roofs, etc. However, hopefully it provides an example of all the things that a development can be in a sustainable future here in the CRD and around the world.
Dockside Green (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.docksidegreen.com/
BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. (2013). $1.5 million to help revitalize contaminated land. (News Release). Retrieved from: http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2013-2017/2013FLNR0116-001101.html
O’Riordan, J., Lucey, W. P., Barraclough, C. L., & Corps, C. G. (2008). Resources from waste: An integrated approach to managing municipal water and waste systems. Industrial Biotechnology, 4(3), 238-245.
Sun, C. (2013). Alternative waste plan promoted for Greater Victoria. Victoria News. Retrieved from: http://www.vicnews.com/news/229315441.html?mobile=true