World's greenest development a hit on Victoria waterfront

When writer-photographer Taylor Kennedy decided he wanted to move to Victoria, he knew exactly where he wanted to live.

“I’ve lived all over the world and this is by far the most efficient place I’ve ever been in,” says Kennedy, ecstatic a few days after moving into the Dockside Green development with his fiancée in early May. “Its convenience and efficiency means it’s greener and lighter on the planet, which is something I value and think is important. But it’s also, in this particular case, going to save a lot of money.”

Dockside Green is one of the most ambitious mixed-use residential developments in B.C. And when the first residential phase opened in 2008, it easily achieved LEED Platinum
certification, receiving the highest score of any development to date, worldwide.

Located on a former industrial site in Victoria, the development –  once
complete –  will include more than 20 buildings clustered in three neighbourhoods over 15 acres. All the buildings will be designed and built to achieve the highest LEED® scores ever awarded.

“There’s no doubt it’s a bold target,” says Joe Van Belleghem, development manager for Dockside Green and a partner in Windmill West, the private company developing the property in partnership with Vancity Credit Union, “but we’ve already proved we can do it.”

What’s so innovative about Dockside Green? Among the sustainability features of the residential, commercial and light industrial development are:

  •  on-site sewage treatment and biomass heat generation;
  • a public plaza and public art installations;
  • a car-sharing program with 10 electric cars;
  • vegetable plots for residents on green roofs;
  • a scenic greenway with a natural water feature that will also serve as treatment for storm water runoff.

And then there are the electricity-saving efficiencies, developed in concert with BC Hydro’s High Performance Building Program.

Hard-wired CFLs, hallway LEDs and in-suite monitors

New resident Kennedy spent his first few days listing the development’s positives – and snapping photos of his 770-square-foot suite –  to friends near and far. He’s particularly stoked about the home’s in-suite monitor.

“It gives you the ability to monitor your exact usage of electricity, hot and cold water,” he says. “Being able to see exactly what you’re using is really cool, and I’m sure it’s going to be very helpful to monitor how much we’re using.

“It’s both in-wall and by Internet interface. We can check and turn the heat up or down from remote locations, as well as monitor what’s being used. It’s super cool, and one of the many, many great features I’m excited about.”

Other energy-saving measures developed with the help of BC Hydro include:

  •  hard-wired CFLs in all suites and LED lighting in all corridors;
  • low-e glass in all windows and exterior sun shades for south- and west-facing windows
     ENERGY STAR® appliances in all suites;
  • improved wall insulation;
  • a four-pipe fan coil system to provide heating and cooling in all suites;
    motion-sensor lighting controls in closets and storage areas and occupancy sensors in
    parking lots;
  • heat-recovery ventilators everywhere, dramatically reducing the amount of energy required to heat outdoor air to a comfortable indoor temperature, while keeping air quality high –  a benefit for anyone with allergies or asthma.

“We estimate,” says development manager Van Belleghem, “that our buildings will consume 50 to 53% less energy than conventionally designed buildings.”

But will the people come?

All that fabulous energy efficiency could go to waste if the development does not attract the people it needs to live and work there. And in today’s rocky economic climate, it seems that no development, no matter how good, is guaranteed to sell out.

Van Belleghem and his partners in Dockside Green don’t seem to be worried, however.

 “I know people will pay for good design and for energy efficiency,” he says. “They will choose to live and work here because they like and approve of what we’re doing, and they know they will benefit from long-term energy savings.

“In fact, last year when the markets started to slow and buyers started to become more selective, our sales actually went up by 215%.”

Kennedy is proof of that. Born in Toronto and most recently a resident of Washington, D.C., he has looked everywhere for a beautiful place to live, one that meshes with his belief in affordable sustainability.

He sees no risk in being part of a project some might rank as an experiment.

“I see virtually zero chance of failure,” says Kennedy, who looks out from his 200-square-foot deck to views of the Olympic Mountains, the inner harbour and stunning sunsets. “I don’t see it as an experiment at all – I think that it’s unusual, but I don’t think it’s an experiment.

'There’s no truly experimental technology being used... It’s just very solidly built and designed in a way that’s efficient, which is very different than living in some space age, futuristic thing that could break at any moment.”

The development is attracting high quality commercial tenants as well, including an organic baker and an organic coffee shop. And for office tenants, it offers significant advantages.

“Businesses will of course save money in an energy-efficient space, but they’ll save even
more by having a comfortable and healthy environment for their workers,” says Van Belleghem. “Healthy workers are productive workers.”

Related links and resources:

BC Hydro’s High Performance Building program (604 453 6400 in the Lower Mainland or 1 866 453 6400 elsewhere in B.C.)

Dockside Green (Official site)


Source: BC Hydro News