Clean and green are in Canada's DNA — and this has been a boon to business leaders seeking a destination for their clean-technology events.
Canada has invested more than $1.15 billion in 400 companies, supporting more than 13,000 jobs in the clean technology space. This investment leveraged an additional $3.05 billion in funding and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 18.1 megatons.
"The Government of Canada believes the future of innovation is clean technology," says Samantha Bayard, a spokesperson for Canada's federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. With the potential to grow to a $6.4 trillion market in the next four years, Canada sees opportunities to create jobs and wealth in all industries. "That's why the Government of Canada is making CleanTech a priority."
This commitment, and the collaboration between government, academia and private industry has vaulted Canada to the forefront of global CleanTech innovation. Canadian technology is utilized to make New York City's garbage trucks 30 percent more efficient, convert Rotterdam's waste into green methanol, used on the first satellite monitoring industrial GHG emissions and power Norway's first electric ferry and the world's first hydrogen train.
While a national priority, CleanTech expertise, venues and opportunities are especially concentrated in six centers of excellence across the country: Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. These hubs are ideal for executives and conference organizers in this industry seeking an innovative destination for their next event.
British Columbia's capital, Victoria, is one of the prettiest cities on the continent. Thanks to the mildest climate in Canada, this "garden city" comprises a collection of leafy neighborhoods and lush gardens surrounding Victoria Harbour.
The city's main meeting venue is the 73,000-square-foot Victoria Conference Centre. It has 21 multipurpose rooms and a 25,000-square-foot Crystal Garden greenhouse used for gala dinners and trade shows — not to mention, the attached 464-room Fairmont Empress Hotel provides a further 23,000-square-feet of meeting and event space, including the city's two largest ballrooms. The city's meetings core is adjacent to the provincial legislature, providing quick access to policy decision-makers.
The Victoria Conference Centre is where the IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism conference focuses on the impacts of travel on the economy, environment, social and cultural fabric of a destination. In addition to being energy efficient and environmentally sustainable, the center has been blessed by local First Nations people.
Among the local academic assets that planners of CleanTech events can harness are the University of Victoria, which has a reputation for innovative research in oceans and climate change, environmental sustainability as well as indigenous initiatives, and Royal Roads University, which has a strong focus on environmental practice, education and communication, as well as science and policy of climate change.
Vancouver breathes green. The showpiece Double Platinum LEED Certified Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) is arguably the world's greenest meeting space. In addition to its six-acre living roof, the 466,500-square-foot VCC's extensive water recycling saves 1.8 million liters of fresh water a year and upgraded LED lighting slashes electricity consumption by 841,000 kilowatt hours.
The VCC's commitment to green operations makes it the venue of choice for events like the 2020 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells International Congress, 2019 Zero Waste Conference, the upcoming 2020 Canadian Gas and LNG Exhibition and Conference, and this year's GLOBE Series, North America's largest sustainable business summit and innovation showcase.
"Vancouver is the ideal base for a sustainable business summit," says Carol-Ann Brown, GLOBE Series vice president, Innovation and CleanTech. "It's been named the number-one startup ecosystem in Canada and third greenest city in the world. It also has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita of any city in North America."
"Vancouver is the ideal base for a sustainable business summit. It's been named the number-one startup ecosystem in Canada and third greenest city in the world."
—Carol-Ann Brown, GLOBE Series vice president, Innovation and CleanTech
She adds that as home to one of the top 10 CleanTech clusters in the world, Vancouver provides support for innovation and events like GLOBE's through both public and private organizations, including the Foresight CleanTech Accelerator Centre, National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program and Sustainable Development Technologies Canada.
"Our base on the West Coast allows us to welcome investors from not just Vancouver, but Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest," says Brown.
Calgary is more than a one-industry (oil and gas) city. It has a surprisingly strong academic infrastructure comprising six universities as well as the highest concentration of corporate head offices in Canada. These corporations and academics have leveraged their in-house expertise to propel Calgary into the lead for clean energy developments, emissions control, reduced impacts on land and biodiversity and non-exploitive utilization of natural resources.
Calgary also embraces disruptive ideas like offering public spaces for R&D as a Living City Laboratory and hosting Energy Disruptors Unite, which brought together voices as diverse as the president of Suncor Energy to an electric vehicle advocate and serial entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.
“Calgary represented an ideal location due to numerous direct flights to both Europe and Asia, as well as Calgary’s commitment to renewable and green energy."
—Seth Hubbard, general chair of IEEE Photovoltaics Specialists Conference
Another group choosing to meet in Calgary is the IEEE Photovoltaics Specialists Conference, taking place in the city June 14–19, 2020, which draws experts in solar cells and solar energy from around the globe (over half of its attendees are based outside North America).
"Calgary represented an ideal location due to numerous direct flights to both Europe and Asia, as well as Calgary's commitment to renewable and green energy," says IEEE PVSC Conference General Chair Seth Hubbard. "The excellent TELUS Convention Centre facilities and nearby access to major hotel brands also made Calgary an easy choice for our conference."
He adds that its proximity to multiple tourist attractions nearby, such as the Canadian Rockies and the Canadian Badlands, allows our attendees time for fun and relaxation before and after the event.
Toronto has North America's third-largest stock market and is Canada's financial capital — and it's a leader in environmental innovation, as well. Having cut greenhouse gas emissions to 44 percent of its 1990 levels, Toronto now seeks a green city title.
The city's CleanTech Cluster, led by the University of Toronto's Impact Centre, features joint product development and research projects, access to funding, help transitioning to greener products and processes, as well as opportunities to accelerate the development and commercialization of made-in-Toronto green technologies. There are also groups hastening the implementation of green-building principles and sustainable solutions to urban energy challenges.
Among Toronto's innovations in clean water and energy technology is Toronto Hydro's testing of the world's first underwater compressed air energy storage system.
All this activity is drawing significant meetings business to Toronto, like February's International Conference on Water Management Modeling, followed by the first North American meeting of the World Circular Economy Forum and, in 2022, the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition, which convenes at the 600,000-square-foot Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Toronto is an attractive option for events ranging from major CleanTech conferences to focused education or leadership summits.
Montreal has a history of embracing bold, new ideas. It has hosted a World's Fair and Summer Olympics, and as headquarters for 70 international organizations and home to 11 universities and colleges, Montreal is accustomed to hosting important international groups and provides natural tie-ins to many professions and industries.
Montreal's 500 clean-energy companies and 200 research groups boast world leading experts in biofuels, water treatment, waste management, soil decontamination and energy efficiency — and provide innovative sponsorship opportunities to events held in the city. CleanTech is so significant here that the Montreal Climate Exchange opened to provide financial assistance and a market for the sector.
Montreal’s 500 clean-energy companies and 200 research groups boast world leading experts in biofuels, water treatment, waste management, soil decontamination and energy efficiency.
While Montreal has the distinction of being certified a green city by the iCompli Sustainability standards established by the ASTM-APEX Accepted Practices Exchange, its current sustainability plan aims to design a low-carbon, leading-edge city by focusing: reduction of GHG and fossil fuels, increased biodiversity, healthy neighborhoods and transitioning to a green, circular economy.
The 551,500-square-foot Palais des congrès de Montréal is part of this plan. One of the world's first carbon-neutral convention centers, the Palais offers a carbon off-set program for events and participants and operates a 40,000-square-foot Urban Agriculture Lab on their roof, which provides fresh produce to the Palais kitchens, as well as local shelters. Its design emphasizes sustainability, from the adaptive reuse of century-old building elements to the Lipstick Forest installation inside the center, consisting of 52 pink-hued trees.
For CleanTech executives, Canada's capital, Ottawa, offers access to the greatest collection of both policymakers and scientists in the country. Between four universities and colleges, eight technology-related institutes and government organizations, 74,500 engineers and scientists work in Ottawa.
The 230 scientists, engineers and technologists employed at CanmetENERGY focus on developing cleaner fossil fuels and related technologies for oil sands and heavy oil and more.
Among the capital's CleanTech sector leaders are the three CanmetENERGY Research Centres. The 230 scientists, engineers and technologists employed here focus on developing cleaner fossil fuels and related technologies for oil sands and heavy oil, energy efficiency for alternative energy, as well as more efficient and sustainable energy production and use. They also engage in private sector research partnerships on products and processes beneficial to Canadians.
Ottawa is a city built on meetings. Outside the gothic Parliament buildings the main meeting venue is the 192,000-square-foot Shaw Centre (formerly Ottawa Convention Centre). It has a 495-room Westin on-site, is walkable to the restaurant district and overlooks the Rideau Canal, which when frozen in winter is used by residents to commute to work on skates, one of the capital's quirks.
In Canada, CleanTech leaders will find support from federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as academia and innovation investors and one of the world's easiest visa regimes. Further simplifying the business process is the pool of destination and sector experts provided by Destination Canada Business Events. The team's specific knowledge of this vast land makes Destination Canada Business Events team an organizer's first stop for tailoring the right package for their event, whatever the size. To learn about assets and opportunities and arrange research trips and site inspections go to businesseventscanada.ca.