The Sustainability Scholars Program is an innovative paid internship program. We match UBC graduate students with on- and off-campus sustainability partners to work on applied research projects that advance sustainability across the region.
Apply your research skills to real-world sustainability challenges
Get paid and gain valuable professional work experience
Develop applied skills and knowledge under the guidance of a mentor
Build your professional network and enhance your career prospects

How It Works

The program is open to full-time UBC graduate students from any program or discipline. As a Sustainability Scholar, you work under the guidance of a mentor on an applied research project that supports their organization's sustainability goals.

Apply

UBC Sustainability Scholars work on applied research projects across a wide range of environmental, economic and social sustainability topics. See our list of current paid internship opportunities.

Project Library

The Scholars Project Library contains hundreds of reports, charts, tool-kits, and more, documenting the applied research produced by Scholars since 2010. A useful body of knowledge to support further research around sustainability.

Meet the scholars

UBC Sustainability Scholars come from all kinds of backgrounds and academic disciplines. Scholars stand out for being passionate about sustainability, having a strong work ethic, and for their applied research skills.

Partner with us

Partner organizations are essential to the UBC Sustainability Scholars Program. Partners provide work experience for UBC graduate students and benefit from their applied research.

About Scholars

Sustainability Scholars’ projects have been helping to move the dial on sustainability across the region for over 10 years. Find out more about our history, milestones, and impact.

Project Library

The BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary roadmap that establishes progressive steps to transition to constructing net-zero energy-ready buildings by 2032. The City of Maple Ridge is exploring the potential to use this optional roadmap to encourage more energy-efficient buildings. The key components of this project include: developing possible scenarios for the adoption of the BC Energy Step Code in Maple Ridge; modeling energy and GHG emissions reductions for each scenario; and creating a GHG modelling tool in Excel for development planning purposes.

Partner: City of Maple Ridge
Keywords: green buildings

PDF
2017
Thi Nguyen

Establishing building energy labelling for the multi-family building sector could provide an impetus for more energy efficient design and construction, and greater energy conservation in a building type that is becoming increasingly significant in the Lower Mainland, and across BC and Canada. This report outlines stakeholder perspectives regarding the value and feasibility of developing an energy label which would accurately reflect the energy performance of multi-family buildings.

Partner: UBC Sustainability & Engineering
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy

PDF
2017
Jessica Hayes

Greening medical imaging operations in the Lower Mainland Health Organizations equips practitioners with a course of action to demonstrate their responsibility towards the environment by ensuring that their operational procedures do not hamper the sustainability of the larger ecosystem while promoting the wellbeing of their patients. This report contributes to understanding the contexts of operations in medical imaging departments so as to meet the needs of staff and ultimately improve environmental performance.

Partner: Fraser Health
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling

PDF
2017
Christiana Onabola

Greening hospital pharmacies in the Lower Mainland Health Organizations equips pharmacists with a course of action to demonstrate their responsibility towards the environment by ensuring that their operational activities do not hamper the sustainability of the larger ecosystem while promoting the wellbeing of their patients. This report contributes to understanding the contexts of operations in a hospital pharmacy department so as to meet the needs of staff and ultimately improve environmental performance.

Partner: Fraser Health
Keyword: sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling

PDF
2017
Christiana Onabola

The Lower Mainland Facilities Management (LMFM) department manages the facilities of the four health organizations in the Lower Mainland. THis report includes a review of LEED Certification performance for healthcare facilities, identifies the connections between the Healthy Built Environment Toolkit and the LEED V4 for Building Design and Construction (BD+C), and developes a protocol for the post occupancy evaluation of healthcare facilities in the Lower Mainland.

Partner: Fraser Health
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy

PDF
2017
Ghazal Ebrahimi

Many of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks have experienced jumps in visitor counts, indicating an opportunity to purposefully revamp existing amenities that help people enjoy and connect with the natural environment, while also being sensitive to important ecosystems in each park. This report provides a framework to guide the design and planning decisions for several Metro Vancouver Regional Parks to ensure that these sites are fully accessible where possible to those with motor disabilities, so all people have an opportunity to enjoy nature equally.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: ecological systems, social sustainability

PDF
2017
Alexandra Scott

This evaluation assesses the health of the market for municipal organic waste (MOW) compost in Metro Vancouver, and thus the sustainability of composting as a regional organic waste management strategy for Metro Vancouver. 

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling

PDF
2017
Meghan McIllfaterick

This report explores the role of the construction renovation and demolition (CRD) sector as a key player in reducing consumption of natural resources and waste production. This report recommends decoupling economic growth from the consumption of finite natural resources by transitioning from a linear to a circular economy.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling

PDF
2017
Fraser Pick

This report responds to the post-truth context by examining how well Metro Vancouver’s social media content is received by its audiences and how much trust citizens place in Metro Vancouver’s messaging—and what can be done to support and extend the existing facts infrastructure based on these findings. Link to a poster about this project (PDF).

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: social sustainability

PDF
2017
Lois Evans

Metro Vancouver is currently performing condition assessments on gravity sewer mains using closed-circuit television (CCTV) inspections. Due to constraints including pipe access and flows, the condition of water mains, forcemains, and marine crossings cannot be easily assessed. This report outlines the condition assessment technologies suitable for Metro Vancouver’s Water Services and Liquid Waste Services linear assets.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, water, waste management & recycling

PDF
2017
Andy Lee

Food waste disposers (FWDs), also known as food grinders, are used for the disposal of food waste by some residents in the Metro Vancouver region. According to a detailed food characterization study conducted by Metro Vancouver in 2014, about 46% of households have FWDs out of which 44% use their FWD on a daily basis. The purpose of this study was to determine the additional organic loading (Biochemical Oxygen Demand and Total Suspended Solids) that FWDs contribute to the wastewater treatment system in the Metro Vancouver region.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: food systems, waste management & recycling, water

PDF
2017
Frank Nkansah-Boadu

Metro Vancouver’s Smart Drive Challenge (SDC), pilot program was intended to develop an understanding of how driver feedback could be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through both better driving habits and reduced reliance on automobiles. This study used three regression models: pooled ordinary least squares (OLS), fixed effects and first difference regression modelling techniques, on data collected via onboard data loggers during the SDC program. By using regression models, the effects directly attributable to the SDC can be quantified while accounting for confounding factors such as weather, fuel price and hours spent driving.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: transportation

PDF
2017
Reagan Rockzsfforde

Metro Vancouver’s Smart Drive Challenge (SDC) pilot project used on-board location tracking and “smart” connected feedback technology to determine whether short-term driver training and “smart” feedback can help improve fuel consumption and fuel efficiency, and instil more environmentally-friendly driving habits. The purpose of this Sustainably Scholars project was to analyse and interpret the large amount of GPS and participant-survey data collected through the SDC to determine whether the training and feedback helped drivers change their driving habits and behaviour, and drive less. 

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: transportation

PDF
2017
Lena Patsa

This report summarizes and compares tools and methodologies used by air quality and climate change agencies in other jurisdictions when conducting background analysis, consulting on, and drafting their air quality and climate changes plans, programs, and policies. The resulting report will inform the approach taken by the Air Quality and Climate Change division at Metro Vancouver when developing new plans and policies.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: climate and renewables, sustainable development & green economy

PDF
2017
Laura James

The goal of this report is to give UBC Properties Trust (UBCPT) an understanding of energy related costs and the rising costs associated with utility consumption in B.C. utilizing a portfolio of buildings currently under the management of Village Gate and Westbrook Properties. This information will help UBCPT to make informed decisions around energy consumption and future retrofits to realize energy cost savings and help UBC meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals. 

Partner: UBC Sustainability & Engineering
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy

PDF
2017
Robyn Gerry

The UBC Farm Socio-ecological Monitoring Application is an ongoing project that aims to develop a dynamic monitoring and reporting system for UBC Farm that can also be adapted to other scales of farming operations. Its ultimate goal is to make farming more sustainable by closely tracking and reporting on every aspect of a Farm’s operation. This document aims to provide a detailed report on the system architecture and design choices of the application’s current iteration (April – September 2017).

Partner: UBC Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at the UBC Farm
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy

PDF
2017
Xingyu Tao

Rehearsing Conflict is a unique workplace learning opportunity offered as a free workshop series (or, summer intensive) for UBC employees. It uses forum theatre methods to play out and explore real stories of conflict from the UBC community. Conflict Theatre has provided a thoughtful, effective, and popular way to engage people in difficult conversations, while also allowing them the space to practice and rehearse various strategies and responses to a conflict situation. This report reviews the development of the initiative over the past few years and provides an evaluation strategy for the pilot.

Partner: UBC Human Resources
Keywords: social sustainability, sustainability in education

PDF
2017
Megan Ryland

Conflict Theatre has provided a thoughtful, effective, and popular way to engage people in difficult conversations, while also allowing them the space to practice and rehearse various strategies and responses to a conflict situation. As a project with both immediate and long-term goals, evaluation has been and will continue to look different for different aspects of the process. This report focuses on the individual level of evaluation to understand the personal impact of Rehearsing Conflict, and Conflict Theatre more generally. Program operations and community engagement are key areas for evaluation that are discussed elsewhere, including prior reports.

Partner: UBC Human Resources
Keywords: social sustainability, sustainability in education

PDF
2017
Megan Ryland

This project supports the Vancouver Park Board’s goals for urban forest restoration throughout city parks and the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan to plant 150 000 trees. Everett Crowley Park was the focus of the data collection and analysis. The primary goal was to establish a base level knowledge about the history of anthropogenic disturbance within the park area, assess the current conditions of restoration work completed and establish general guidelines for continuing and improving restoration efforts. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: access to nature, biodiversity, ecological systems

PDF
2017
Lorraine Campbell

This report looks at technical barriers and opportunities for various archetypes of multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) and looks at the economic and environmental performance of specific heat pump technologies suitable for MURB retrofits. To generalize what upgrades are suitable for certain buildings, various archetypes were defined with the intent that specific upgrades could be applied on a large number of similar buildings. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy

PDF
2017
Colin Mingus

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