AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Synergy at Dockside Green

This photograph shows Synergy at Dockside Green's townhouses along the Greenway.
Photo credit: Enrico Dagostini


  • Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
  • Building type(s): Retail, Multi-unit residential
  • New construction
  • 178,000 ft2 (16,600 m2)
  • Project scope: multiple buildings
  • Urban setting
  • Completed March 2008
  • Rating: Canada Green Building Council LEED-NC --Level: Platinum (63 Points)

Dockside Green is a 1.3 million ft2, mixed-use development on a former brownfield site in the heart of Victoria, BC. The first phase, Synergy, includes four buildings constructed over a common underground parking structure. The program for Synergy includes a nine-story residential tower with commercial units on the ground floors; a two-story townhouse building; a six-story building with commercial units on the ground floor and a four-story residential building. The site is bound by roads on the west and north sides; a greenway and creek on the east side; and future development on the south side.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2009. It was submitted by Busby Perkins+ Will in Vancouver, British Columbia. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

From the beginning of the master planning process in early 2005, the project team for Dockside Green focused on the triple bottom line: ecological, economic, and social sustainability. As the first phase in the development, Synergy was designed to represent that focus and take advantage of the building's integration in the larger plan.

The project team designed the building form and orientation as well as the envelope design to produce the most energy-efficient and user-friendly building possible on the site. Sometimes the design goals put energy-efficiency and occupant control at odds. Some strategies, like the rolling canopies used to control glare and solar heat gain, managed to bridge the gap. Occupants have control over their spaces through a dashboard that controls these canopies as well as heating and ventilation.

Green roofs with vegetable gardening spaces and the greenway on the site were designed to support social equity and local food production. They also have environmental benefits: green roofs and spaces limit the urban heat island effect and allow stormwater to permeate on site, taking a burden off the city stormwater system. In addition, all rainwater is collected on site and reused for irrigation and toilet flushing or infiltrated and treated by the greenway. This strategy required extra work to detail rainwater leaders and spigots, but has paid off aesthetically and practically. All wastewater will also be dealt with on site and used for irrigation and toilet flushing.

A wood-fired combined heat and power plant will provide heat and hot water to the entire development. This, along with the hydropower-based electricity, will reduce the carbon footprint of the development. Purchased renewable energy credits will make it carbon neutral.

Materials were chosen for their durability, recycled content, and regionality. Rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo and cork were used as interior finishes, and materials with low levels of volatile organic compounds were chosen.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned by Windmill West and Vancity Developments
  • Typically occupied by 179 people; and 18 visitors per week


Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Contracting, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Transportation benefits, Brownfield redevelopment, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Water harvesting, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Efficient irrigation, Graywater, Wastewater treatment, Massing and orientation, Glazing, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Cogeneration, Durability, Benign materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Ventilation effectiveness, Thermal comfort, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/15/2009

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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