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.


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.

Fraser Estuary Research Collaborative (FERC)

A new stream in the Sustainability Scholars Program focusing on applied research with the goal of restoring and protecting the endangered Fraser Estuary.

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.

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.

Fund scholars

Climate change, biodiversity loss, and growing inequality are some of the most urgent issues facing our world today. Support from donors will allow scholars to make a direct impact through organizations doing the on-the-ground work needed to address climate change and other critical sustainability challenges.

Program History

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

This project aims to develop articles on advancing deep emissions retrofits by analyzing four retrofit cases (three on Part 9 detached home retrofits, and a limited scope, domestic hot water retrofit of a Part 3 commercial building) all serving as educational material to encourage and supporte industry professionals and homeowners in British Columbia to opt for high performing equipment and design strategies to successfully meet the climate targets.

Partner: ZEBx
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy

Mridul Pareek

This project aims to design and develop a prototype tool to enable automatic extraction and assimilation of valuable details about the design, energy performance and operational emissions of newly constructed single detached houses using building energy reports. The report includes a demonstration of the prototype, its performance, and a brief discussion on the structure of the database followed by shortcomings of the prototype and possible avenues for further development.

Partner: City of Richmond
Keywords: green buildings

Ayush Suhane

This project aims to identify and explore how other Indigenous Peer Network models engaged in capacity building work with Indigenous communities. This work is intended to support the Great Bear Initiative's Climate Action Network (CAN) to improve their network's functioning and provide lessons learned from other Indigenous Peer Networks to build off the current model of CAN. Includes suggestions for best practices based on interviews and an environmental scan.

Partner: Great Bear Initiative Society/Coastal First Nations
Keywords: Indigenous sovereignty, energy sovereignty, climate mitigation, climate adaptation, Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Joanne Nelson

This project aims to improve electric vehicle (EV) charging access for residents with barriers to at-home charging in the City of North Vancouver. Includes an assessment of current residential and public charging opportunities, recommended locations and models for providing new public EV charging stations, and best practices for improving access to EV charging for residents living in multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs).

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

Amanda Masse

This project aims to address inequities in accessing resources, opportunities, benefits, and costs/burdens of climate action initiatives among social groups. To achieve this, local governments must prioritize frontline, marginalized and vulnerable communities in the "Big Moves" while driving down GHG emissions. Includes a climate equity framework explicit on social equity goals and objectives for local governments to adopt and integrate into ongoing climate action initiatives.

Partner: Community Energy Association
Keywords: social sustainability, sustainable development & green economy, transportation

Vincent Chireh

There is a clear relationship between anthropogenic CO2 emissions and global temperature rise. The goal of this project with Metro Vancouver is to develop a regional carbon budget for Metro Vancouver. A carbon budget is the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted around the world without increasing the global average temperature by more than 1.5 degrees. The carbon budget for Metro Vancouver was calculated using the C40 Cities Convergence and Contraction methodology.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, carbon footprint

Rudri Bhatt

This project considers the concentrations and distributions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from gas boilers, heaters, and generators of buildings in Metro Vancouver - particularly the potential impact of emissions on neighbouring buildings - and focuses on how other jurisdictions address similar issues. Recommendations include reducing NOx emission limits for such technologies; implementing stack design policies; increasing data collection, modeling, and leveraging a city-planning approach to emissions; and electrifying heating appliances and buildings.

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

Claire Ewing

Healthcare facilities are large consumers of water and have a leading role in water conservation. This project aims to explore innovative water-saving opportunities applicable to healthcare settings and assess their feasibility for implementation at the Lower Mainland health organizations by identifying key challenges and opportunities.

Partner: Vancouver Coastal Health
Keywords: Water

Monika Korczewski

This project aims to support the future implementation of a Regional Resilience Strategic Framework by Metro Vancouver. Specifically, the project provides a conceptual framework for defining and measuring resilience of the regional water and liquid waste systems. Additionally, the project further identifies potential key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate system resilience based on a systematic literature review and internal engagement with staff.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: waste management & recycling, water, resilience

Serena (Seoyeon) Choi

This report aims to assess the environmental impacts of shared mobility services in Metro Vancouver. The report includes the calibration of emission factors for private car, transit, carsharing, ridehailing, and bikesharing systems. Moreover, environmental impacts from mode choice and mode displacement behaviour of shared mobility users are investigated. While carsharing and bikesharing systems have the potential to reduce GHG emissions, ridehailing is likely to be detrimental to the environment.

Partner: TransLink
Keywords: transportation, GHG emissions, shared mobility

Elmira Berjisian

This report summarizes the lowest life cycle costs (LCC) and life cycle emissions (LCE) of powertrain technologies available for light, medium and heavy-duty vehicle classes and shows the emissions impacts of selecting the lowest LCC technologies, as well as the financial impacts of selecting the lowest LCE technologies. The LCC includes capital, interest, fuel, and environmental cost of GHG emissions over a ten-year life. LCE includes fuel, vehicle cycle, and vehicle operation.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: supply chain management & green procurement, sustainable development & green economy, transportation

Shannon Goulden

This report includes a literature review, case studies, lessons learned, and recommendations contributing to the body of research informing the restoration design of sludge lagoons to freshwater wetlands in the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. The final recommendations are based on the literature review and lessons learned which encompass restoration design, implementation, maintenance, monitoring, and adaptive management.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: biodiversity, ecological systems, water

Trisa Ngo

Part of a WWF-Canada initiative, this report is a hands-on guide for educators to implement a habitat garden at their school. The author interviewed educators in the Habitat Stewardship pilot project exploring challenges and feasible solutions for school-ground habitat enhancement. The purpose of this report was to compile learnings from the pilot project to inform a toolkit which will help educators participate in native planting initiatives at schools across Canada.

Partner: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada
Keywords: biodiversity, food systems, sustainability in education

Danielle Tan

The purpose of this project was to articulate a vision for a community driven, collaborative mental health and substance use system of care that exists on a continuum which begins in community, extends into health care, and ultimately leads back to community. The report highlights opportunities for a framework that is multi-sectoral and includes concrete and meaningful links to community, and integration with mental health care at the micro, meso and macro level.

Partner: Community Action Initiative
Keywords: social sustainability, mental health, substance use

Natania Abebe

This report is meant to support the creation of a Hazardous Areas Development Permit Area and a Site Alteration Bylaw for Bowen Island Municipality. The bylaws will address hazards that may be exacerbated by development and are meant to either prevent or mitigate risk of damage to Bowen Island's local ecosystems and community. Best practices are summarized, and geotechnical analyses are used to create a map of potentially hazardous areas.

Partner: Bowen Island Municipality
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy

Mike Turley

The objective of this research project was to identify communications best practices and develop a series of core messages to communicate the principles of the circular economy in health care in an accessible and compelling way. There report aims to serve as an educational document for improving communication and persuasion efforts to promote pro-environmental behaviour broadly, and policies that facilitate the transition to a circular economy in health care.

Partner: Vancouver Coastal Health
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, sustainable development & green economy

Elizabeth Samuels

This project aims to improve the ability of the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Team, a shared service across the Lower Mainland Health Organizations, to engage health care staff with sustainability practices to transform the health care system. This project includes a review of best practices for staff and volunteer engagement, and the development of a monitoring and assessment framework to support tracking and reporting processes for the Green+Leaders program.

Partner: Vancouver Coastal Health
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change

Sarah Pendreigh

This project aims to identify the gaps between BC Energy Step Code airtightness requirements and the construction industry's understanding of building airtight envelopes to support meeting those requirements more predictably and avoiding final blower door test failures.  The report examines the results of an industry-wide online survey identifying trades that can most benefit from support and at what stage(s) of construction practices can be improved to construct an airtight building.

Partner: Township of Langley
Keywords: green buildings

Ezgi Yuruk Haktanirlar

This project draws on the firsthand experiences of congestion pricing professionals in five US cities to share lessons learned within the context of evidence-based recommendations from the fields of public policy, risk communication, and the behavioural sciences. It is our hope that these timely insights will give current and future proponents of congestion pricing the best possible chance of successfully designing and communicating their versions of this essential tool.

Partner: TransLink
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, sustainable development & green economy, transportation

Nigel Deans

This project aims to create a framework post-pandemic community recovery plan for the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. The purpose is to provide recommendations for organizations to implement in order to help the community recover from the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes suggestions in five areas of focus: the overdose epidemic, access to dignified housing, social connection and isolation, autonomy and self-determination, and gender-based and sexualized violence.

Partner: Atira Women’s Resource Society
Keywords: social sustainability

Sarah Glazier