Sustainability

Sustainability at

Vancouver Aquarium

We are committed to being an environmental responsible organization.

Quick info

Green Buildings

Our innovative, sustainability-centered buildings

Purchasing

We buy green in many areas of our operation

Waste Reduction

Composting, recycling, repairing

Resource Protection

We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment

Employees

We empower our employees and volunteers to keep sustainability in mind

Overview

Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative, is a conservation organization working towards a world in which oceans are healthy and flourishing

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. This movement started in 2006 when we built our first green building certified as LEED Gold and continued in 2009 when we made a commitment to certify our environmental program to the international standard ISO 14001. In doing so, Vancouver Aquarium became the first aquarium in the world to build a LEED® Gold building and achieve ISO 14001 certification for their environmental program. Our commitment to being an environmental responsible organization is driven from the top. Our Senior VP Business and CFO built and signed off on our first Environmental Policy statement back in 2009. While the policy continues to evolve to integrate best practices, it has always been our guiding document and our commitment to the world on being a green organization.

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 square foot Aquaquest – the Marilyn Blusson Learning Centre 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 our most expansive revitalization in our history, we envisioned an innovative, sustainability-centered venue that would showcase aquatic life within the natural setting of Stanley Park. In 2014, the ribbon was cut on the new Aquarium Entrance Complex and visitors can now see the product of this vision from the moment they set foot in the immersive space.

Cool as a killer whale

Whales and dolphins have a complex network of veins and arteries that act as a natural thermostat to regulate temperature. Inspired by their physiology, we've given our building an embedded system of pipes in the concrete ceilings that carries hot or cold

New uses for seawater

The Aquarium pumps in seawater from the ocean and distributes water throughout the building to many different areas including habitats and even our cooling system. In fact, we're cooling our facility with seawater that can absorb enormous quantities of he

The air we breathe

The Aquaquest ventilation system uses convection to improve air quality – a natural process that makes life on Earth possible. Fresh air enters each room through vents near the floor and eventually exits through vents near the ceiling as it warms and rise

Reducing waste

When we demolished an existing building to make way for Aquaquest, we salvaged more than 75 percent of that building's materials. We used reusable steel "forming pans" instead of disposable plywood frames. We used less cement to make our concrete and repl

Main entrance complex

Our main entrance complex meets and exceeds some of the highest sustainability standards—this building was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification from the Canada Green Building Council, an international mark of

The ecology of place

As part of the Aquarium’s belief in preserving the local environment, the Complex was designed to preserve and enhance the existing Stanley Park forest character and ecology, selecting timeless, long-lasting, simple materials compatible with Stanley Park’

Water wise building

Some of the Main Entrance Complex’s sustainable features are less obvious to spot but are equally as important. Landscaping and civil design was developed to optimize storm water management and protect and restore open spaces. Water use is minimized throu

District energy system loop

During building, a District Energy System (DES) loop was installed. DES is a facility-wide, energy-efficient heat exchange system that redistributes energy among our buildings, exhibits and habitats. Features of the system enable us to recover heat genera

Purchasing

Buying green

Our Environmental Policy commits to 'including the environment and lifecycle thinking in purchasing decisions’. We do this through surveying our suppliers on their environmental and social practices as well as employing lifecycle impact surveys for new products pre-purchase.. We buy green in many areas of our operation, including:

Shade-grown coffee

We only serve shade-grown, organic coffee at the Aquarium. This ensures our coffee is growing under the shade of the rainforest canopy, preventing deforestation, and protecting animals like our Goeldi monkeys.

Ocean Wise sustainable seafood

We only feed our guests and animals Ocean Wise-recommended seafood. This ensures our seafood is harvested in a method limiting bycatch of non-target and endangered species and keeping populations abundant and resilient.

Gift shop souvenirs

When we buy products for our Gift Shop, we prioritize characteristics that will minimize the product’s lifetime environmental impact, ensuring that guests have earth-friendly choices.

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 then to 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 dishware, utensils, and 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.

Clothing recycling

Our employees and volunteers now also have the options to recycle their old and worn clothing at work. We collect clothes in our lunchroom that is then taken to a local thrift store by our recycler where it is sorted and either re-sold or recycled into ra

Clothing repair

Recycling is great but repairing clothes is even better! We are lucky enough to have a volunteer who mends clothes in our lunchroom one day a month; it’s a free service for employees and volunteers.

Resource Protection

We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment

Our commitment to ’measuring and managing natural resource use’ extends to energy use, chemical management, water conservation and green transportation.

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.

Green cleaning

We use vinegar and Ecologo-certified products for cleaning and low VOC glues, caulking, and paints during construction.

Review and replace

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

Proper disposal

Local experts facilitate our routine chemical disposals to ensure we meet hazardous waste disposal regulations.

Conserving water

We set annual objectives, review water consumption monthly, and actively work to drive water reduction across our operation. We’ve installed low-flow toilets and showers added rainwater collection cisterns on our roof that allow us to collect up to 215,00

Bring your own bottle

On April 12, 2017, the Vancouver Aquarium ceased the sale of single-use water 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

Our commitment to ’measuring and managing natural resource use’ extends to energy and includes electricity and natural gas. We set annual objectives and review energy use monthly with the goal continual improvement.

Heat exchange

Our energy reduction work includes things like transitioning light bulbs from traditional to more energy efficient LED bulbs as well as incorporating a district energy loop system (DES) in our newest building.

Green transportation

We work hard to ensure our employees, volunteers, and guests have the option to get to work in a sustainable way. As a corporate member of Mobi Bike Share, we offer discounted bike share memberships to our employees and volunteers.

Featured

#BePlasticWise

Single-use plastic waste is harming ocean life. Ocean Wise® created the Plastic Wise initiative to raise awareness and share solutions to address the crisis of ocean plastic. Join us. #BePlasticWise.

Employees

Empowering employees and volunteers

Ocean Wise and Vancouver Aquarium attract employees and volunteers that believe in the organization’s mission and work hard every day to create a world in which oceans are healthy and flourishing. Two groups who support our employees and volunteers in doing this are the Aquarium’s Green Team and Environmental Management System Team.

Green team

The Green Team is a group of sustainability-focused individuals that regularly volunteer their time to work towards the reduction of waste and the promotion of sustainable practices at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Green workshops

The Green Team organizes easy, fun and accessible workshops, challenges and activities. The team provides the tools that allow employees and volunteers to make more sustainable choices, both in and out of the workplace. Every year the group organizes more

Environmental management system team

The EMS Team consists of individuals from across the organization. They meet monthly to ensure ISO14001 commitments are being met, objectives are being achieved, and, ultimately, that the environmental program is effective and continually improving.

Want to learn more about our impact
on the world? Read our annual report.

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