Did you do your homework?
Located on the waterfront in Victoria, British Columbia, Dockside Green is slated to be the first LEED platinum-rated development in the world, which basically means it is as environmentally-friendly as you can get. Comprised of 26 buildings on 15 acres near the city's harbor, the project will include 1,000 apartments, condos and townhouses, in addition to over half a million square feet of commercial and retail space.
The project's list of environmental sustainability features is enough to make even the greenest Green blush. To wit:
Targeting LEED™ Platinum certification and striving to be greenhouse gas neutral, Dockside Green will showcase a variety of sustainable innovations including biomass energy cogeneration, on-site stormwater and sewage treatment, exciting alternative modes of transportation, and a host of other environmental commitments.In case you don't feel like clicking the links, here are some specific details. First, biomass energy cogeneration:
Rather than burning wood waste, we'll use a thermochemical gasification process to create a synthetic gas that will in turn fuel the engines of Dockside Green's power generator. The input “chemicals” for thermochemical gasification – wood, water and air – are heated in a low-air environment until the wood undergoes gaseous decomposition. The resulting gaseous products are then scrubbed and cleaned before entering the engines, so no smoke is produced – just green electrical energy and clean, odourless flue gases. To avoid noise disturbances, the gasification plant and the engines will be housed in an acoustically isolated building.
Also interesting is the project's water management system. All sewage will be treated on-site and reused in toilets and irrigation, saving nearly 70 million gallons of water each year (roughly 60 percent less water usage than traditional developments). Moreover, stormwater will be captured by green roofs, cisterns, bioswales and bio-filtration and channeled to a man-made stream running through the middle of the property (something like this was recently discussed on the HCCA listserv). The developers promise that "post development rain event conditions will not exceed the rate and quantity of predevelopment conditions..."
But it doesn't stop there, Dockside's developers also promise to incorporate social and economic sustainability measures, each of which is accounted for in their Triple Bottom Line approach:
Our development plan emphasizes the creation of a healthy and inclusive community that supports new economic opportunities and a high quality of life with minimal impact to the environment.Among the specific social and economic sustainability features are live/work spaces, affordable housing set asides totaling $3 million, a permanent community liaison group and (my favorite) a provision to keep out chain establishments.
Our strategy recognizes that triple bottom line components should never be treated as separate targets, independent of one another. Instead, we believe in taking an integrated approach; intertwining economic, environmental and social objectives so that each enhances the attributes of the others, making it difficult to distinguish which specific TBL component a particular tactic is addressing.
Many believe that economics determine what can be done from an environmental or social perspective (the more money you have, the more you can do). While this is true to a certain extent, our approach is to select design features that embrace all the triple bottom line components demonstrating how a commitment to the environment and sustainable New Urbanism pays off in the long run through factors like job creation, improved marketability and energy cost savings.
Lest you think these lofty goals are only marketing gimmicks (or "greenwashing"), the developer has promised to set up an ongoing monitoring system to ensure Dockside adheres to this vision and, get this, will pay the city $1 million if it fails to achieve LEED platinum certification for the entire project.
Now, the list of amenities is certainly extensive, but what I really like about the project is its philosophical foundation.
We've talked a lot in Columbia about how to make Town Center development "work" with respect to traffic, infrastructure and whatever definition of community "values" we each hold. But with its focus on creating a complete ecosystem, of sorts, Dockside does us one better.
The project is being designed with a systematic, integrated and closed-loop approach. It's not enough for a variety of pieces to play well together, each building, public space and amenity serves to complement the others and helps create a more holistic, um, whole.
When I look at the Town Center master plan, I don't see this level of thinking. I see a plan overly-constrained by short-sighted feasibility and politics. Of course, our situation is only loosely analogous to Dockside, but the point is still there.
If we want Town Center development to serve as a model of forward thinking and community sustainability, we need to look at the example of Dockside and others like it and ask ourselves how we can raise an already-high bar.
I certainly don't have the answers, but I'll still ask the question.