Established in 1984 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Busby, Perkins and Will is an integrated architecture, interiors and planning firm recognized for its leadership. It uses many approaches for its multi-faceted projects. EnviroCitizen.org discovered that Busby, Perkins and Will is considered one of North America's leading green practices with the largest portfolio of built green projects in Canada. The firm also researches, educates and is heavily involved in the development of public policy and sustainability guidelines.
The firm has several areas of expertise in sustainability. They pride themselves in being knowledgeable in: sustainable campuses, transit, planning and even the exterior and interior details such as solar design. One project that reflects these ideas is their deisgn of the Synergy at Dockside Green building. This project won a Green Project Award from the American Institute of Architects, AIA. From the beginning of the master planning process in early 2005, the project team for Dockside Green focused on three themes: 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 into the world.
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, but balanced them with other stratgies as sustainable design is challenging at times. Some solutions, like the rolling canopies used to control glare and solar heat gain, managed to mend the gap. Occupants have control over their spaces through a dashboard that controls these canopies as well as heating and ventilation, making the building built for the human comfort.
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. No water goes to waste. 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, which comes from water on dams, 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.
EnviroCitizen.org believes that this project is a success in green building and design. The ingenious approach has paid off for Busby, Perkins and Will in achieving their goal of creating sustinable urban environments. Many similar projects are projected in the future.