Sustainability at the

Vancouver Aquarium

We are committed to being an environmentally responsible organization.


We are committed to sustainability

The reality is that our buildings and operations have an impact on the environment and the animals we work to protect whether it be through the use of energy, the generation of waste, or the buying of goods. In our efforts to mitigate that impact, Vancouver Aquarium has become a leader in environmental sustainability practices. 

Green Buildings

Aquaquest – the Marilyn Blusson Learning Centre - and the Main Entrance Complex, our green buildings.

Aquaquest – the Marilyn Blusson Learning Centre: The 52,000 sq. ft. building was certified LEED Gold back in 2006. It has some interesting green features that are still innovative today. Main Entrance Complex: When the we initiated plans for the most expansive revitalization in our history, we envisioned an innovative, sustainability-centered venue that would showcase aquatic life in the natural setting of Stanley Park. In 2014, the ribbon was cut on the new Aquarium Entrance Complex, and in 2016 it received LEED Gold certification.

Cool as a killer whale

Whales have a complex network of veins and arteries that act as natural thermostats to regulate temperature. Inspired by their physiology, we embedded a system of pipes in our building that carries water to heat and cool more efficiently.

New uses for seawater

The Aquarium pumps in seawater and distributes it throughout the building to habitats and even our cooling system. A heat exchanger in our basement cools the building by transferring energy from water in our pipes to the incoming seawater.

The air we breathe

Our ventilation system uses convection, a natural process, to improve air quality. Fresh air enters through floor vents and exits through ceiling vents- replacing stale air and creating a more energy-efficient space.

Reducing waste

When we demolished existing buildings to make way for our new buildings we reused, recycled or salvaged as much waste as we could. With Aquaquest we diverted 75%, and the Main Entrance we diverted 90%.

The ecology of place

As part of our belief in preserving the local environment, the Main Entrance was designed to enhance Stanley Park’s forest and ecology. The curvilinear wall shape, for example, fits into the Park’s organic environment and topography.

Water Wise Buildings

Conserving freshwater was important in our new buildings, and so we integrated rainwater harvesting systems so that we could use rainwater to flush our toilets rather than valuable freshwater.

District energy system loop

During building, a District Energy System loop was installed. The energy-efficient heat exchange loop redistributes energy in our facility allowing us to recover heat generated in our Café to warm warmer exhibits like the Amazon Gallery.

Waste Reduction

Reducing waste

In our Environmental Policy, we make a commitment to identify waste streams and work to eliminate them. We fulfill this commitment by conducting annual waste audits to help us better understand our waste, and we also implement new waste-reduction and recycling programs. In our offices, we compost food waste and recycle everything from standard paper, cardboard, and containers to less standard items like nitrile gloves, ceramics, writing instruments, and electronics.

Compostable dishware and utensils

All Aquarium Café disposable dishware and utensils, as well as food waste is composted and turned into Class A compost that is used to grow certified organic alfalfa and hops in the British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

Turning imperfect food into animal feed

Our Café donates overripe produce to our Amazon Gallery animals. Softer fruits that are too ripe for Café guests are perfect for animals like bats who prefer the sweeter flesh. This prevents perfectly nutritious food from going to waste.

Resource Protection

We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment

Our commitments extend to energy conservation, chemical management, water conservation, and green transportation.

Conserving water

We monitor our use, set annual objectives, and actively work to reduce our freshwater use. We've installed low-flow toilets and showers, added rainwater collection to our roofs, moved from hydraulic to pneumatic valves, and more.

Bring your own bottle

In April 2017 the Vancouver Aquarium ceased the sale of disposable water bottles (in 2016 they sold 39,000 bottles), asking guests instead to bring their own bottle and fill it in one of the seven onsite water fountain / bottle fill stations.

Conserving energy

We monitor use, set annual objectives, and actively work to reduce our electricity and natural gas use. We've transitioned to more energy efficient LED bulbs, incorporated a District Energy System loop into our newest building, and more.

District Energy System Loop

Our District Energy System loop is an energy-efficient heat exchange loop that redistributes energy in our facility. It allows us to recover heat generated in our Café to warm warmer exhibits like the Amazon Gallery.

Managing chemicals

We manage chemicals very diligently. All of our chemicals are inventoried in an online database where employees have 24-hour access to safety data sheets to make sure they can do their jobs safely.

Review and replace

We continually review our chemical inventory and look for environmentally preferable substitutions for conventional chemical products.

Green transportation

We work hard to ensure our employees and volunteers can get to work sustainably. As a corporate member of Mobi Bike Share we offer discounted bike share memberships, we also have onsite electric vehicle charging, and over 100 bike spots.

Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Green Award

Every year, AZA recognizes top achievements from zoos and aquariums across North America. In 2015, the Vancouver Aquarium received the Green Award for outstanding environmental consciousness and institutional green practices.

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