Compendium

Olympic Village

The Olympic Village ecodistrict is located on what in 1990’s was part of the last piece of waterfront property owned by the City of Vancouver. This unique piece of land, close to the downtown core, was also formerly an industrial waterfront and was occupied by shipbuilders, sawmills, foundries, metal works, a salt refinery and a public works yard. Once a contaminated industrial zone, the site has been rehabilitated through the reintroduction of native plant species and the recreation of former coastal habitats. It is also the home of a new ‘state of the art’ neighbourhood, fitted with energy efficient buildings, green energy technologies and green infrastructure.

Dates of completion2006-2009
Surface Area90,000 m²
Localization Vancouver, Canada
Project Description
1,100 residential units – 252 units are affordable housing (including co-op housing), and another 100 units are modest market and the remainder are considered as market housing. 
60,000 square feet of commercial space; 
Salt Building – a preserved and restored heritage building serving as a restaurant and gathering spot 
45,000 square foot community centre which includes a daycare.
Certification Olympic Village met LEED® Platinum ND (neighbourhood development) – the second community in North America to meet this standard. To meet this standard all the buildings met LEED® NC (new construction) Gold, along with one Net Zero Building (generates as much energy as it uses) and a community centre with LEED Platinum certification.

Context

In 1990 the City of Vancouver adopted the Clouds of Change Report which established pollution reduction targets and had many recommendations for improving transportation planning and housing, but one particularly distinct suggestion was the recommendation to “develop a planning and design process aimed at achieving an energy-efficient development on the southeast shore of False Creek” .  For the next two decades the future of this area was the centre of a planning process which brought forward advocates with varying views of what it means to develop a sustainable community. However, the final push to build Vancouver’s first sustainable community came in 2003 when Vancouver won its bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. As part of the bid, Vancouver City Council committed to the International Olympic Committee to build the Olympic Village on the site that had been earmarked for this new “energy-efficient” development, and thereby obligated the City to complete this new innovative housing development by November of 2009.

Stakeholders

The City of Vancouver was responsible for the land assembly, planning, infrastructure development and the provision of 252 units of affordable housing. The City provided the overall community vision for the project which included the creation of a socially integrated community; the impetus for the design and construction of the Neighbourhood Energy Utility (NEU); and the framework for the Public Spaces and Stormwater Management systems. The developer, Millennium SEFC Properties Limited, constructed the buildings, with the City negotiating and approving the design. 

Sustainable development

Many of the Olympic Village’s sustainability achievements are detailed it’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) ND stage 2 platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded in February 2010. A number of factors, including its proximity to the downtown core, mix of uses, affordable housing, green buildings and habitat restoration were used by USGBC to name the Olympic Village “The Greenest Community in North America”. The Olympic Village also received points from USGBC for building the Neighbourhood Energy Utility, which is one of the world’s first renewable district heating system where all buildings are heated and cooled through sewer heat recovery. Points were also received for the “net zero building”, a building which produces as much energy as it consumes. Also notable is the inclusion of green infrastructure which refers to the use of natural vegetation, soils, and bio-engineered systems like permeable streets, green roofs, rain gardens and constructed wetlands and habitats. These actions aim to conserve natural resources and mitigate negative environmental effects such as those created by stormwater.  

Researchers working on this project

Meg Holden

Hugo Rochard

Dominica Babicki