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2004 Buildings

City of White Rock, British Columbia

City of White Rock Operations "Green Building"

Population: 18,000

Reclaiming an abandoned wastewater treatment plant, the City of White Rock built a new operations building that is expected to reduce energy costs by 40 per cent. The old treatment tank walls served as tbuilding's foundation and all new building materials were purchased from within a 500-km radius to reduce transportation-related emissions. Much of the salvaged material from demolition was reused, diverting about 97 per cent of construction waste from landfill. The building was oriented for a southern exposure to take advantage of passive solar heating and lighting and features an energy-efficient building form and envelope, natural ventilation systems, rainwater reuse and other water conservation measures, as well as water source heat pumps.


In 2000, the City of White Rock's council passed legislation declaring its intent to pursue and promote sustainable objectives in all its city planning and development. "One of council's goals, in particular, was to reduce energy consumption and costs," said Wayne Baldwin, the city's chief administrative officer.

Council enshrined this goal in its Official Plan, stating that "The city will support green building initiatives that incorporate environmentally advanced design and energy systems." A bylaw also commits the city to conduct its affairs in an environmentally responsible manner, and several other city policies support initiatives that reduce energy costs and address issues of air quality. White Rock joined FCM's Partners for Climate Protection in 2001, a program that commits municipalities to a municipal and community-wide program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

White Rock identified an old sewer treatment plant as an ideal candidate to support its objective to showcase new green building techniques, and also to provide a more pleasant work environment for its employees. With a relatively small tax base, however, money for large capital projects was limited.


  • The building received a LEED Certified Gold rating.
  • By carefully salvaging materials for reuse, 97 per cent of the construction waste from demolition was diverted from landfill. All new materials were purchased within a 500-kilometre radius to reduce emissions related to transportation.
  • The combination of all the techniques used should result in an approximately 55 per cent decrease in operating costs and a 40 per cent reduction in energy requirements. The heat pump system alone is estimated to save over $1,500 in energy costs each year.
  • Using stormwater for toilets, landscaping, and truck washing will reduce annual water use by about 30 per cent (a reduction of almost 24,000 litres).
  • The building cost more to construct than a conventional building, but with lower operating costs the payback is approximately 11 years.
  • The American Institute of Architects chose the building as one of its Top Ten Green Projects for 2004.This award, plus the other recognition the building has received, has fostered a sense of pride in the community. "The community has a sense of ownership now and they want to know more about green issues," said Mr. Baldwin.

Lessons Learned

  • ASSEMBLE A GOOD TEAM. The city used several outside consultants who had expertise in the techniques and practices now used in the operations building. The architectural consultants who designed the building also partnered with two other firms to design the solar array.
  • THINK LONG-TERM. Mr. Haight noted that green projects often involve long-term thinking, so you have to be aware and ready for that. "You also have to involve your own staff, right from the start," he said. "If you take a 'think outside the box' approach then you have the potential to do good green projects."
  • SEEK FUNDING EARLY. Although there is little the city could have done to speed up the grant process (from federal and provincial governments), Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Haight noted that seeking funding early can shorten a project's time frame.

Partners and Collaboration


  • Operations Department
  • City Advisory Design Panel


  • Canada-BC Infrastructure Program
  • Busby & Associates Architects Ltd.
  • Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD)
Page Updated: 21/12/2015