Sustainability at the

Vancouver Aquarium

We are committed to being an environmentally responsible organization.

Quick info

Green Buildings

Our innovative, sustainability focused buildings


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


Our employees and volunteers keep sustainability in mind


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 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.


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 grown under the shade of the rainforest canopy, preventing deforestation, and protecting animals like our Goeldi monkeys.

Ocean Wise sustainable seafood

We feed our guests and animals Ocean Wise-recommended seafood. This ensures our seafood is harvested to limit bycatch of non-target and endangered species, and fisheries are managed to keep 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 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.

Clothing recycling

Our employees and volunteers have the option to recycle their old and worn clothing at work. We collect clothes in our lunchroom that are sorted and either re-sold by a local thrift store or recycled into rags.

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 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.



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.


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 organizes fun workshops and challenges to help our employees and volunteers lead more sustainable lives. They hold clothing swaps, green cleaning making workshops, Bike to Work Week challenges, Lunch & Learns, and more.

Environmental management system team

The EMS Team meets monthly to ensure our operations continue to meet ISO14001 certification requirements, and to ensure our environmental program continues to be effective and continually improves.

Canada's Greenest Employer 2019

In 2019, Canada’s Top 100 Employers recognized us as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the second consecutive year. The designation recognizes employers that have created a culture of environmental awareness and developed exceptional earth-friendly i

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

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