Vancouver is one of the hottest technology hubs in North America.
With so much news, data, and events to cover across the city and province, Techcouver leans on professionals in the field to help keep our audience properly informed and up-to-date.
Last time we fixed our gaze on robotics and AI, where a diverse array of firms are advancing and leveraging cutting-edge tech to create transformative applications.
In this Autumn edition, experts weigh in on the Vancouver region’s potential as a clean-tech leader in the lithium battery space as well as the city’s capacity to model the future of industrial construction.
Looking for Lithium Leadership
Canada has the potential to be a linchpin in the global energy transition, with the right investments and programs in place, argues Dr. Saad Dara.
More than 80% of our power already comes from non-emitting sources, he notes, pointing out that Canada’s Minister of Energy Jonathan Wilkinson announced a goal to decarbonize the national grid by 2035.
“As demand for electric vehicles and utility-scale energy storage batteries skyrockets, the world will need to rapidly expand the lithium supply chain,” the CEO of Mangrove Lithium explains. “Canada is positioned to excel in the production and refining of critical minerals as it holds the 6th largest lithium reserves in the world.”
But despite its significant reserves, Canada is currently a net importer of lithium and lithium products.
Canada, and British Columbia in particular, has an opportunity to change this by bringing lithium refining and mining home and bolstering the national economy, Dara believes.
About two-thirds of Canada’s clean-tech companies are located in British Columbia, primarily in Vancouver. But bottlenecks, imbalances, and regulatory restrictions plague the lithium supply chain within Canada and around the world.
New refining methods can significantly increase Canada’s lithium production capacity, Dara says.
“The technological know-how, workforce, and beginnings of regulatory support needed to create a robust lithium supply chain all exist within Canada,” he says. “Bringing it to its full potential will require more action from both the private and public sector.”
Although the government has created critical mineral-specific programs, the additional funding and permitting expediency is critical, Dara asserts.
“Canada is well-positioned to become a global leader in the lithium supply chain,” he states. “We have an abundance of lithium resources, skilled workers, and the infrastructure needed to support a thriving lithium industry—now is the time to increase the momentum to fund and deploy projects as quickly as possible to rise to the challenge of the global energy transition.
Tomorrow’s Industrial Space Today
Industrial warehouse construction is undergoing a transformation led by a cocktail of influences such as customer demands, labour crises, supply chain upheavals, and technological breakthroughs.
This transformative process is particularly evident in Vancouver, says Braden Smith, because it is a city that attracts startups and strives to accommodate the space needs of multinational retailers while grappling with the challenge of diminishing developable land.
“In this dynamic environment, these construction trends support business growth and foster innovation while addressing pressing environmental and operational needs,” says Smith, director of development for Langley’s Orion Construction. “The real challenge for Vancouver’s industrial construction sector is to become the trendsetters, pushing the envelope of what’s possible in warehouse construction.”
Implementing energy-efficient systems, deploying renewable energy sources, and creating sustainable water management strategies are “crucial design considerations,” for example, providing long-term cost savings through reduced energy consumption and enhanced resource efficiency.
Industrial warehouses must also anticipate and adapt to the evolving needs of clients. Modular construction techniques, adjustable interior layouts, and scalable infrastructure enable warehouses to accommodate storage and distribution needs.
“By incorporating flexible features such as mezzanine floors and modular racking systems, warehouses can easily reconfigure their spaces to meet changing requirements,” explains Smith.
A 33,000-square-foot purpose-built laboratory and warehouse in Surrey exemplifies Smith’s concept.
Automation and advanced technologies are also augmenting warehouse operations.
“Industrial warehouses are now being constructed to facilitate the seamless integration of automation systems, robotics and artificial intelligence,” according to Smith. “By leveraging automation and technology, [warehouse innovation] can also help mitigate labour challenges, optimize space utilization, and enable real-time data-driven decision-making, driving operational excellence and customer satisfaction.”
Smith asserts that the industrial construction industry is experiencing a transformation driven by the convergence of sustainability, adaptability, and technology and motivated by Vancouver’s scarcity of developable land.
“The future of industrial warehouse construction is here,” he writes for Techcouver. “We are creating visionary spaces that inspire innovation, uphold environmental stewardship, and redefine operational excellence.”