A case study of the green building sector in Vancouver

Author/s: Laura Slater

Creation date: 2011-06-30  

Contact info: laura.a.slater@gmail.com

Senior supervisor: Sean Markey

Keywords: green building, policy processes, policy communities, sustainable development, green cities, green economies, Vancouver

Geographic focus: Vancouver, BC; British Columbia; Canada

Research question/s: How has green building policy shaped the building sector in Vancouver? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Vancouver’s green building policy and processes? What improvements could be made to Vancouver’s green building policies?


Climate change must be must be tackled at the municipal level if measurable and lasting change is to occur. Vancouver has set the goal of becoming the world’s greenest city by 2020 and a core component of the city’s strategy for achieving this target is the promotion of green industries, including the green building sector. Also, globally, the building sector is a key driver and contributor to urbanization and climate change trends. While there has been significant research on the technical aspects of green building, there has been relatively little on the policy dynamics of the sector. This study aims to help fill that knowledge gap by examining Vancouver’s green building sector and how it has responded to and shaped policy.


Through document analysis and interviews, the author found that Vancouver’s green building sector has now reached a point where it has a robust knowledge of green building systems. The sector is ready and eager to exceed the standards set by systems such as LEED, which though once useful, are now serving as impediments to further progress. The author found that the strengths of Vancouver’s green building policy processes include the political support for and priority given to green building policy. The weaknesses include the fact that the cost premiums and instrinsic value of green building are not reflected in policy. Among the author’s reccomendations for improvement to Vancouver’s green building policies are the creation of a system of benchmarking and accountability and the creation of a widely applicable metric for energy effiency in buildings.