‘Green Value’ solutions achieve ‘Design with Nature’ outcomes at three Vancouver Island commercial developments
Real Estate Foundation and Ministry of Environment fund ‘case study profiles’
Three Vancouver Island case studies comprised of commercial developments represent a linked set. The Inland Kenworth industrial truck dealership in the City of Nanaimo and the neighbouring auto dealerships for Mazda and Toyota in the City of Courtenay are all retail automotive outlets. They address similar rainwater management issues including extensive impervious surfaces as well as challenging geological and hydrological site features, and in every project “design with nature” technologies have been used to address these challenges. Finally, all three projects were initiated by Island West Coast Developments of Nanaimo.
Other factors link these projects. Since the early part of this decade, a local government context has been emerging as civic leaders and staff wrestle with the implications of climate change and the increasing costs of conventional growth and development (financial costs as well as the deterioration of the natural systems on which we rely, e.g. for clean water). There is also a growing emphasis within the various professions involved in development on “sustainable” practices. Finally, there is a slowly emerging market readiness for infrastructure and building practices that, while only beginning to show cost-effectiveness, are in synch with a larger social awareness of “green” values.
Commercial developments are a good litmus test for market readiness for “green” approaches. As Greg Constable, owner of Island West Coast Developments, makes clear, he is interested in taking this route — but he has to be able to “sell” it to his clients. His assessment is that the market, or at least the clients he is working with, are willing to pay a premium of perhaps 5% for the distinction of having a “greener” development. As he describes it, “It is still a process of “baby steps”.
These case studies suggest that leadership in the application of “design with nature” rainwater management technologies is, as Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia puts it, a “conversation.” The principals in these two case studies concur: innovative, effective solutions emerge in and through the various exchanges that take place between a developer who is willing to listen to his team (and sell what he hears to his client), and civic staff with clear direction to pursue green approaches. Local governments need clear policies and bylaws to guide growth and change, and to protect citizens from liability; however, we need to recognize that progress in how we manage growth and its impact on the natural systems we depend on requires flexibility and creativity. All parties must be willing to engage in conversations that admit ‘outside the norm’ solutions.
Inland Kenworth, City of Nanaimo
The Inland Kenworth project involved redevelopment of an historic industrial site within the City of Nanaimo. Sited in a challenging location and adjacent to a wetland / stream system, the project won a City of Nanaimo environmental award for its unique approach to first capturing and then absorbing rainwater on-site. It has been suggested that this development may have rehabilitated the site’s permeability to a state prior to industrial uses. It is currently a candidate for a design award.
Inland Kenworth was featured as part of Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the Nanaimo Region in September 2007.
Mazda-Toyota, City of Courtenay
The recent 2006/2007 Toyota and Mazda commercial developments in the City of Courtenay are part of a significant change in strategy at the City that goes back several years. The City had been moving towards a new model for dealing for rainwater management issues and infrastructure before 2002, when it became the first Vancouver Island municipality to adopt the Water Balance Model as a decision support tool. As City Engineer Kevin Lagan remarks, “This allowed us to look at stormwater/rainwater differently. Instead of it being a problem, something that had to gotten rid of, we started to treat it as a resource.”
Green Value Case Study Profile Series
To learn more about these three projects, please click on ‘Green Value’ solutions achieve ‘Design with Nature’ outcomes at three Vancouver Island commercial developments.
This case study profile was commissioned by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and the associated report was prepared by Hans Peter Meyer.
To read about more case study profiles in the series, please click on this link to Vancouver Island Development Projects Illustrate ‘Green Value’ Approaches: Real Estate Foundation and Ministry of Environment fund ‘case study profiles’