Vancouver is a shining example on Earth Day

Today marks the 44th annual Earth Day. This year more than one billion people are expected to celebrate the environment and the world’s greenest cities. Sustainable cities is the theme for Earth Day 2014 and raises awareness about just how much energy a city uses and needs.

According to the Earth Day Network, buildings account for nearly one third of all global greenhouse gases. To mitigate these effects, cities must update building regulations and use more sustainable building technologies. And one Canadian city is doing just that.

Vancouver will become the greenest city in North America, if not the world, by 2020 according to Mayor Gregor Robertson. However, the city’s current carbon footprint is more than three times larger than it needs to be to reach this goal.

At 600,000 residents, Vancouver is the eighth most populous city in Canada and has some environmental challenges. Through the city’s Greenest City 2020 initiative (, Vancouver is addressing these challenges to meet their environmental goals, particularly by reforming how buildings are constructed and maintained.

By 2020 city law will require that all buildings must be carbon neutral in operations. So far, the city has reduced the total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings by 20 per cent over 2007 levels.

Vancouver’s Greenest Building

The Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center, opened in 2009 and is one of Canada’s first award-winning green buildings. It provides a glimpse of what Vancouver’s future buildings could look like.

The center features a six-acre living roof, housing over 400,000 native plant species and over 240,000 bees. The roof is North America’s largest non-industrial green roof and acts as an insulator to maintain indoor temperatures while collecting rainwater.

All water – grey water and black water – is treated through a wastewater treatment plant that provides the water for all the building’s irrigation needs. A seawater pump is used to cool the building during the summer, and heat it in the winter.

Additionally, the building is almost entirely made of glass, minimizing the need for artificial heat and light.

To learn more on Vancouver’s Convention and Exhibition Center, visit



Photo:, Vancouver Convention Center