When I attended the education congress in Victoria recently, I also fit in a visit to Dockside Green. I’ve been following the development of this sustainable community since it was still on the drawing board. The Vancity team (the credit union owns the development) gave us a fabulous, in-depth tour of the 15-acre site. Dockside Wharf is the first of three neighbourhoods to be built out. It contains two residential buildings (Synergy and Balance) and two commercial ones (Inspiration and Prosperity). Don’t you just love the names? All of the buildings have achieved LEED Platinum designations and they are in the second stage of the application process for LEED platinum neighbourhood status. Tre Fantastico Café and Fol Epi Bakery are already favourite local hangouts. There’s more information on the Master Plan here.
Heat is generated by the biomass plant, providing heating and domestic hot water to this carbon neutral community. In fact, the plant will produce an excess of energy with the ability to power neighbouring communities as well. The biomass facility converts wood waste to energy; they have been experimenting with a number of different fuels (wood shavings, wood chips, construction wood scraps, etc) to find just the right mix and a consistent supply.
In addition to using all the latest water conservation technology in suites, Dockside has integrated other water management systems into the landscape. Storm water is filtered through green roofs and a series of streams and ponds that add beauty and serenity to the environment. The sewage is treated in an on-site facility; the treated water is then used for irrigation and to flush toilets. They have very cool signage outdoors to explain it all to residents and visitors.
There are many other impressive features. Their bike room is massive and they have space to hang your kayak. You can just hop across the street and you’re in the harbour or on the Galloping Goose Trail if you prefer to walk or cycle rather than paddle. They also have the most well organized recycling room I’ve ever seen and it includes organics collection. You can read about their other sustainability features here; I like that they call this section of their website ecology.
I’ve toured Olympic Village many times and it’s interesting to compare these two sustainable communities. Olympic Village didn’t have the luxury of building out in phases. With the slower build out, Dockside Green has the advantage of being able to work out the kinks. While I have never felt I could live in Olympic Village, my friend and I both felt like we could live at Dockside. There was something intimate and lush about it that appealed to both of us; that and price-wise, compared to Vancouver, living there didn’t seem like an impossible dream.