Green Economy

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:

  1. Local food
  2. Green building design and construction
  3. Clean technology, alternative energy and green building products
  4. Green infrastructure, transportation and planning
  5. Sustainability services and education
  6. Land and water remediation and environmental consulting
  7. Materials management and recycling

Vancouver’s burgeoning success across these diverse areas ties directly into a City of Vancouver initiative, the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan. It calls for doubling the number of green and local food jobs, part of an overall vision to see Vancouver become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Since 2010, the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) has been evaluating the size and scale of the green economy and its overall potential — as well as taking concerted steps to foster its growth.


In Vancouver, we don't just talk about a green economy. We make it happen. Be part of it!


Notable Highlights

  • In total, green and local food jobs in Vancouver increased from 16,700 jobs in 2010 to 20,000 jobs in 2013, an increase of 19 per cent over the three-year period (6 per cent CAGR).
  • Based on employment estimates for Vancouver, green and local food jobs represent roughly 4.9 percent of all jobs in Vancouver, increasing from 4.2 percent 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. Influences on this sector include green building policy and international demand for local expertise, as well as new technology. Rezoning regulations that went into effect in 2010 led to a 56 per cent increase in LEED-certified projects in the period 18 months before and after the regulation came online.
  • 25% of Canada’s cleantech companies are based in Vancouver. Many of these cleantech companies are active in export markets, including wastewater treatment specialist BioteQ Environmental Technologies, renewable biofuel leader Nexterra Systems Corp., and advanced natural gas engine-maker Westport Innovations.


Competitive Advantages

Doing green business in Vancouver is all about being plugged into:

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.

Sophisticated infrastructure

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.


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.

Today, the world is looking to Vancouver as a true pioneer in all things green. For those interested in harnessing the power of business to advance green thinking and effect environmental change, there’s no better place to be these days.