As the Vancouver Aquarium’s sustainability manager, I was thrilled to learn that the Aquarium was awarded a GOLD placement in its Green Tourism Canada reassessment, which takes place every three years. This award, presented late last year, reflects the Aquarium’s commitment to effecting the conservation of aquatic life and sustainably managing our operational impacts and facility resources.

With more than 2,000 international members, and over 40 in B.C., every business certified through the Green Tourism program receives a third-party audit, and as a result of that audit, the Aquarium was awarded with the highest possible placement.

The Aquarium’s efforts to meet its high environmental commitments included a number of diverse green initiatives. To name a few examples, we developed a “binventory” to manage our waste systems, conducted surveys to study our waste streams and performed annual waste management training.

As a result, in 2013 we diverted 86 per cent of our municipal waste from city landfills. Through the installation of variable speed drive pumps, we surpassed our 2011 electrical reduction target, achieving an electrical consumption reduction of 14 per cent. With the Aquarium’s expansion underway, we are continuously looking for ways to minimize our impacts. The Aquarium has committed to LEED standard for the development of the new building and we have exciting plans to install an additional salt water heat exchange loop to reduce our dependency on electricity.

With the Green Tourism program promoting and supporting a more sustainable tourism industry, our membership and involvement makes natural sense. To learn more about the Aquarium’s Environment Management System, visit the website here.

Written by Tara Schaufele, Vancouver Aquarium sustainability manager

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