There’s no better example to illustrate Vancouver’s reputation as a forward-looking and sustainable city than the success story that is the Green Economy.
A sector that has grown exponentially in less than a decade, Vancouver’s Green Economy includes seven subsectors:
Green building design and construction
Clean technology, alternative energy and green building products
Green infrastructure, transportation and planning
Sustainability services and education
Land and water remediation and environmental consulting
Materials management and recycling
Vancouver’s burgeoning success across these diverse areas ties directly into the City of Vancouver’s world-leading sustainability strategy, the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan. It calls for doubling the number of green and local food jobs, and for doubling the number of businesses greening their operations, both as part of an overall vision to see Vancouver become the greenest city in the world by 2020. The Vancouver Economic Commission is empowered within the Greenest City Action Plan to act on these two goals, and since 2010 the VEC has pioneered not only one of the world’s most robust green jobs counting systems, but has built out numerous programs to help achieve a doubling of green jobs and greening operations by 2020.
State of Vancouver’s Green Economy | 2018 Report
Today, one in 15 Vancouverites works in the green economy. In VEC’s State of Vancouver’s Green Economy 2018 report, you can read about over 200 leading green businesses making great strides in innovation and the development of low-carbon solutions to traditional and contemporary problems in buildings, energy, mobility and resource management.
LowestCarbon Footprint in North America, with 3.9 tCO2e per resident in 2015
3rdGreenest City in the World
#1Greenest City in North America
23%of Canada's CleanTech Companies are in Vancouver
In total, green and local food jobs in Vancouver increased from 16,700 jobs in 2010 to 24,700 jobs in 2016, an increase of 47% increase since 2010.
Based on employment estimates for Vancouver, green and local food jobs represent roughly 6 per cent of all jobs in Vancouver, increasing from 4.2 per cent of jobs in 2010.
Local food is the largest subsector of Vancouver’s green economy. Success has been driven by strong demand from consumers, public sector procurement policies and new supply sources. By way of example, today’s greatly expanded network of local farmers’ markets now provides a $15 million benefit to the local economy, a significant jump over sales in 1994, the first year of operation, when markets earned $40,000 over 11 weeks.
Green building design and construction is the second-largest sector. Vancouver’s world-leading regulations, like green rezoning policy, and the Zero Emissions Building Bylaw, often referred to as “the greenest building code in the world,” are driving growth in this sector and making Vancouver businesses global exporters of green building practice and green building technology.
25% of Canada’s cleantech companies are based in Vancouver, which is also home the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance, the province’s industry association. Cleantech companies are working in all sectors of the economy, like Loop Energy in alternate transportation fuels, Saltworks in industrial wastewater treatment, Awesense in smart grids and energy analytics, and Teramerra in bio-pesticides and agri-tech. Vancouver’s startup ecosystem is incredibly robust and filled with innovators to watch: Sensible Build Science in advanced building control system, Nano-lit in smart, human-centric lighting systems, and Portable Electric for portable renewable energy systems.
Doing green business in Vancouver is all about being plugged into:
City Strategy Favours Green Business
Vancouver is a world leader in climate change and sustainability policy, with over-arching strategies in place, like the Greenest City Action Plan and the Renewable City Strategy, which aims to use 100% renewable energy in Vancouver by 2050, and specific programs by the Vancouver Economic Commission, like Thriving Vancouver the Green & Digital Demonstration program, that are helping to accelerate green businesses and help existing businesses go green.
Supportive National and Provincial Framework
Both the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia are also world-leading actors in climate change and sustainability policy. Starting in 2018, there will be a pan-Canadian price on carbon, supplementing the existing BC carbon tax of $30/tonne; this is in addition to the numerous supportive programs, like Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), the BC Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund, and the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), all of which help businesses with innovative technologies in sustainability help test, accelerate, and commercialize their solutions. Furthermore, the Vancouver Economic Commission also partners with institutions like Business Development Canada (BDC) to help provide training, resources, and connectivity, to help existing businesses increase their revenues by greening their operations.
Vancouver’s first-rate reputation
A city that is consistently ranked among the greenest international cities in the world, driven largely by its progressive thinking around sustainability, Vancouver is renowned for innovations in green building design and urban development.
Vancouver’s green business ecosystem
One that’s well-established and includes seasoned professionals, CEOs, angel investors, engineers, academics, and researchers. Vancouver also regularly hosts global conferences attracting the sector’s top world experts, including the annual GLOBE conference — one of the world’s top conferences devoted to sustainability.
Vancouver is home to industry and university research labs, testing centres, industry associations and non-profit organizations that develop sustainable technologies.
A location with a distinct geographic edge
Direct access to the US market is a distinct advantage for Vancouver-based green companies, while links to major centres and emerging markets in Asia and beyond are critical. Vancouver-based businesses leverage these strategic geographic and economic ties, readily moving people and products to key destinations.
Beyond these benefits, there’s also the work/live/play downtown effect. Having all three lifestyle elements in Vancouver’s vibrant downtown core lends itself to a happier, more creative and more productive workforce. Less commute time means more time for work — and recreation, which matters when there’s ready access to mountains, ocean, green space, fitness centres, yoga and more. It’s something we like to call the Vancouver lifestyle benefit.
Green Economy Incentives & Programs
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), British Columbia leads the way in Canada for “go green” incentives, helping businesses put sustainability into action. Specific federal and provincial incentives like North America’s first carbon tax have all helped contribute to growing this green ethos — and have been critical to the sector’s success.
Green and Digital Demonstration Program (GDDP) – the GDDP is jointly run by the City of Vancouver and the VEC to allow businesses to access City owned assets free of charge to demonstrate innovative green and/or digital technologies.
Thriving Vancouver – a VEC-sponsored platform for businesses to connect and share challenges, ideas, and drive action towards becoming greener.
Carbon tax – British Columbia was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to introduce a carbon tax, currently $30/tonne of c02e, and this incentivizes all companies and actors to lower their emissions and adopt cutting edge technologies and green practices. In addition, the carbon tax is also revenue neutral, and every additional rise in the tax corresponds with subsequent reductions in business and personal taxes (source)
BC Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund – The ICE Fund is a part of BC Climate Action strategy designed to support and fund pre-commercial clean energy technology projects, clean energy vehicles, research and development, and energy efficiency programs.
Western Innovation Initiative (WINN) – (currently being recapitalized) WINN will address the pre-commercialization funding gaps inhibiting firms from bringing new knowledge-based products and services to market.