Dockside Green Synergy

ARCHITECT Busby Perkins+Will Architects Co.
LOCATION Victoria, British Columbia

Synergy is the highest-scoring LEED Platinum project in the world, and Dockside Green is the largest development of city land in Victoria’s history. Once complete, the development will total 26 buildings and include residential, live/work, hotel, retail, office, light industrial uses and numerous public amenities. With a LEED Platinum rating targeted for each building, the project is a global showcase for large-scale sustainable development. The first phase of Dockside–known as Synergy–is the highest-scoring LEED Platinum-certified project on record. It includes four detached buildings: a nine-storey and a six-storey residential tower with commercial units on the ground floor, and a two-storey and four-storey residential building with townhouses.

The design team completed the master plan for the 15-acre mixed-use Dockside Green development in 2005. Following a Triple Bottom Line philosophy–which examines the social, economic and environmental consequences of development–the design team created a vision of a socially vibrant, ecologically restorative, economically sound and just community that raises the bar for large-scale urban design and planning.

Dockside’s sustainable strategies stand out because of their site-wide application. The project is employing an integrated energy system that ensures the development will be greenhouse gas-neutral, while also providing the opportunity for the project to become a net-energy provider. Dockside’s additional site-wide systems include: a biomass gasification plant that converts locally sourced wood waste into clean-burning gas to produce heat and hot water; a blackwater strategy that treats 100 percent of all sewage from the development at the on-site Waste Water Treatment Facility; and an extensive greywater treatment strategy that is expected to save more than six million litres of water annually.

A few of the project’s green features include dual-flush toilets and low-flow fixtures to reduce potable water use by 67 percent, and low-VOC adhesives, paints and coatings to improve indoor air quality. The project also promotes sustainability and raises public awareness through site tours and on-site signage.

In an effort to reduce car use, Dockside is located within easy walking distance to downtown Victoria, area amenities and public transportation. Dockside also offers residents a car co-op with a Smart Car and provides ample bicycle storage and change rooms. Green roofs are used extensively in the development. They provide residents with amenity spaces and garden plots to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers. Green roofs also benefit the environment by reducing stormwater runoff and the urban heat-island effect. Energy-efficient lighting fixtures throughout the project, together with interior occupancy sensors, reduce energy consumption. Additional energy-saving features include Energy Star appliances, heat recovery ventilation units, low-E double-glazed windows and exterior blinds on the south and west faces of each building. The project uses rainwater leaders to direct building runoff to the central greenway, and stormwater runoff cascades along pathways en route to the greenway. Exterior lighting includes low-level and full cutoff lighting.

Dockside is oriented around a central greenway that runs parallel to the shoreline. Made up of a series of water ponds and bioswales, the greenway is a key feature in the development’s water management system. Site stormwater flows from the buildings and ground-level concourses to the greenway where it is filtered, along with treated blackwater from the Waste Water Treatment Facility, for greywater use in toilets and irrigation. Dockside’s greenway also enhances the community’s livability by providing significant public open space.

Dockside is expected to become the first LEED Platinum community in the world; it was also the first community development to apply for participation in the LEED for Neighbourhood Development pilot program.

Jury Comments

Dockside Green integrates innovation in various aspects into an outstanding architecture which creates exciting “synergies.” Aside from the LEED Platinum rating, Dockside Green addresses issues such as traffic, biodiversity, microclimate, etc. All three aspects of sustainability (social, economic and environmental) have been addressed. Efforts to create a vibrant community–such as public walkways between the buildings–distinguish the project from many other urban developments. Dockside Green sets a new standard for mixed-use urban developments in North America.
–Thomas Auer

Currently, this development establishes a new global standard for sustainable communities and sets the bar higher as Synergy–the first phase of the development–is the highest-scoring LEED Platinum project to date. As Canadians, we should be proud of this achievement! Why Dockside Green Synergy is the most deserving of this award is that it goes beyond green and delivers the complete Triple Bottom Line by incorporating sustainable social and economic aspects. The design is most successful at the ground and roof levels. The development team has completely understood and celebrated human scale and how people, flora and fauna will harmoniously live, work and play within the community. In general, the quality of architecture amongst all of the candidate projects was good. We were able to assess almost all projects at a level playing field of sustainability. Therefore, the jury was able to focus much more on the buildings as architecture. The candidates’ follow-through from concept design to built form was well resolved. The level of exterior and interior integration and the realization of the buildings as a whole was good.
–Lisa Bate, FRAIC