Green Economy in Vancouver

Since the 1960s, Vancouver has been a pioneer of green counterculture. In 1971, the city even gave birth to Greenpeace. Now, Vancouver aims to become one of the world’s greenest cities with a focus on greening its economy.

Vancouver’s ‘Greenest City’ Action Plan

To reach this goal, Vancouver adopted its ‘Greenest City Action Plan’. The plan sets out all the targets to be achieved by 2020 for Vancouver to become one of the greenest cities in the world.

Further developing the green economy is the first goal listed in the plan. This should secure Vancouver’s reputation as “a mecca of green enterprises”.

The main target is to double the number of green jobs within 10 years – from 16,700 in 2010 up to 33,400 in 2020. And the city is well on target: in its latest update, the City Office indicated that over 8,000 green jobs had been created between 2010 and 2016.

Most of these green jobs are concentrated in three main sectors of the economy.

Local food

‘Local food’ is the food and beverage produced and consumed within the province of British Columbia – where Vancouver is located.

Various initiatives have been taken to further develop this sector. The network of local farmers’ markets has significantly expanded in the city during the last decade. Mobile produce markets have also been set up to sell fresh fruit and vegetables at wholesale cost to people within their communities.

The communities also play a key role in the local food sector through community gardens. In 2016, some 4,450 garden slots were dedicated to community gardens all across the city. Vancouver residents had the opportunity to take action to make their neighbourhoods greener and grow their own food. To make the most of their products, community kitchens have also been set up to help Vancouver residents come together and share their knowledge of how to cook the different vegetables and fruits they grow in their gardens.

Two local companies, My Green Space and Nature’s Path Foods, are among those that contribute to the sector. My Green Space is a garden software app that helps people buy plants, plan their garden space, and learn how to make the most of their produce through tutorials. Nature’s Path Foods is an organic, Fairtrade, and non-GMO food producer and the largest independent manufacturer of organic breakfast and snack foods in North America.

Green building

In 2010, over half of all the carbon pollution in Vancouver came from its buildings, but since then all new buildings have had to meet the industry’s gold standard, ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED). The City Office has gone even further: Vancouver has become the first major city in North America to set specific targets and actions to eliminate completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from all new buildings. By 2030, all new buildings will have to meet these requirements.

Various experts in Vancouver have also been working on constructing new buildings made to last longer, with consistent indoor temperatures and high air quality.

Vancouver is well known for its innovation in green building: Canada’s largest passive house – using up to 90 per cent less energy than a regular building – is being built in the city.

The architecture firm of Michael Green – who will be leading a session at a high-level forum at the FSC General Assembly 2017 – has made a major contribution in initiating this a wood-building renaissance across the city.


Cleantech includes firms developing new technologies to produce, store, and use clean energy. One out of four cleantech companies in Canada is located in Vancouver, along with industry and research labs, testing centres, and non-profit organizations developing sustainable technologies. Supportive governmental policies and programmes help promote green innovation.

As a result, Vancouver hosts the world’s largest hydrogen- and fuel-cell industry, and is at the forefront of global innovation, in particular in fuel-cell solutions, power electronics, and wastewater treatment technologies.

Many of its Vancouver’s cleantech companies successfully export their products all around the world; companies such as wastewater remediation specialist and renewable biofuel leader Nexterra Systems Corp.

Expanding beyond Vancouver’s green sectors

Developing the green economy is not just about creating new sectors. It is also about greening all sectors of the local economy, by encouraging organizations and businesses to improve their operations in an environmentally responsible way. This can be achieved by, for instance, sourcing recycled or reclaimed materials or by improving energy efficiency.

Vancouver also hosts various world-renowned sustainability events, such as Eco Fashion Week, that which presents solutions and innovations to develop a more responsible fashion industry, and Globe, the largest international leadership summit on sustainable business in North America. Global sharing of the knowledge that Vancouver’s businesses have gained around green technologies, materials, and skills is another way to expand the green economy, this time far beyond Vancouver’s city limits.