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

This project aims to determine the success of the City of Vancouver’s requirement for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in new one- and two-family dwellings and multifamily buildings, in terms of the effectiveness of the current code inspection regime, and the actual number of homes that have been outfitted with EV charging circuits under the requirements. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: green transportation, green buildings

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2017
Swathi Bhat

The objective of this project is to facilitate energy retrofits of multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) by documenting case studies of heat pump retrofit examples in the Lower Mainland. The case studies are meant to instruct building owners and encourage technology uptake as well as inform updates to the City of Vancouver’s Energy Retrofit Strategy for Existing Buildings.

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

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2017
Michaela Neuberger

The City of Vancouver’s current direction towards greater energy efficiency standards, combined with continuous advancements in green energy technology, will likely result in the greater adoption of air- source heat pumps as an alternative source of space conditioning and domestic hot water production. As Vancouver continues to densify, the competition for suitable mechanical space will become even more limited and the possibility for noise conflicts even greater. This research project therefore explores some of these challenges and presents potential solutions to these issues. 

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

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2017
Lucas Ozols-Mongeau

Implementing fleet vehicle sharing programs can reduce GHG emissions by removing old, inefficient vehicles and replacing them with new vehicles with new technologies that reduce GHG emissions. The purpose of this study was to assess the viability of vehicle sharing in the False Creek Flats area of Vancouver. The report includes recommendations for implementation of a pilot project including a feasibility study, implementation plan, summary of business engagement insights, and identification of potential impacts.

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

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2017
Alexander Taciuk

Building off the VEC’s success with the Flats Climate Action Program where businesses tackle their GHG emissions as a collective cohort, this feasibility study is testing a novel approach to engaging small and mid-size industrial business and property owners in energy efficiency retrofit projects through collective financing and project management. We anticipate that the collective approach will yield not only financial savings, but also social incentives.

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

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2017
Bruce Duong

Olympic Village in Vancouver employs a number of methods to manage rainwater including intensive and extensive green roofs, rainwater harvesting systems, soil cells, infiltration galleries, a constructed wetland, a bioswale, and permeable pavers. The objective of this research project was to investigate, evaluate and document the successes, challenges and lessons learned from the deployment of these green rainwater infrastructure strategies.

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

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2017
Emma Luker

The main objective of this project is to benchmark the existing use of sustainable materials in the CIty of Vancouver's  internal operations and identify areas for improvement. Internal and external procurement processes were mapped for three engineering materials (asphalt, concrete and aggregate). In addition, existing requirements in procurement and reports pertaining to sustainability were documented and five improvement areas were identified.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: lighter footprint, supply chain management & green procurement, sustainable development & green economy

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2017
Kevin Chen

Through this study, the Park Board is exploring the feasibility of replacing or augmenting the existing vehicle fleet with cargo bicycles. The objectives are to identify parks and golf courses where cargo bicycles can be used, review the available types, technology, and manufacturers of cargo bicycles, review worldwide case studies demonstrating cargo bicycle use for similar operational activities, conduct a survey of relevant staff in selected parks and golf courses, and provide recommendations and considerations for the Park Board.

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

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2017
Filippos Gkekas

It is the intent of this report to provide best practices on stewardship funding models and to identify potential opportunities for funding the stewardship of City owned plazas. Framed as a toolkit this document provides community organizations and City decision makers with models, case studies and ready-to-use tools for supporting the stewardship of our public plazas. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city, social sustainability, green buildings

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2017
Sasha van Stavel

The purpose of this report is to dig deeper into the roots of community engagement and the benefits of spaces such as parklets. Built upon feedback from individuals and groups, the report outlines ways the City can address the big questions parklets may face. Part of the study is to understand how to expand the program to be more accessible to a wider audience and how to increase community engagement. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city, social sustainability

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2017
Celia Winters

Social procurement represents the choice by an organization to embed the achievement of social values into their procurement practices. Increasingly, organizations around the globe are changing their procurement practices in an effort to add social value into contracts.This report includes an examination of the current procurement practices at the City of Vancouver. Additionally, an exploration of the social procurement state of practice globally is conducted by examining the different goals that organizations have identified and the approaches they have taken to achieve them. The report concludes with an overview of the program elements that help ensure the success of a social procurement program and recommendations for future action. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: social sustainability, sustainable development & green economy, supply chain management & green procurement

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2017
Dustin Lupick

The Solutions Lab is a new approach to seeking breakthrough, transformative solutions to some of the City of Vancouver’s most complex problems. It is currently in a soft launch stage (phase 2), with core methods, operating model, and appropriate types of Lab challenges and teams all being developed by working on four complex challenges in the Lab context.

The purpose of this report is to share what the Solutions Lab has been doing and why, how we’ve been evaluating our activities, and what kinds of questions could we be asking for the next iteration of the Lab. The hope is that the Solutions Lab will offer City staff and community partners viable ways to reach different kinds of solutions to the sustainability challenges we all face.

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

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2017
Margaret Low

Emergency Social Services (ESS) is a provincially mandated program that is implemented on the municipal level and is activated post disaster to take care of displaced people by providing basic necessities and emergency sheltering. The purpose of this project was to adapt the City of Vancouver’s ESS program to better meet the needs of people with access and functional needs (PAFN) after a disaster. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city, social sustainability

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2017
Marjan Navab-Tehrani

The intent of this research is to better understand how the learnings and successes of other cities can help inform the development of Vancouver’s Poverty Reduction Plan and how existing city- and community-level initiatives in Vancouver can create the necessary foundation for a robust and effective Poverty Reduction Strategy. This report provides preliminary considerations to the City of Vancouver as it prepares to engage communities and move forward on poverty reduction work. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city, social sustainability

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2017
Jessica Hayes

This project examines the impact of design and social programming in sociability of multi-unit housing through a case study of friendly buildings in Vancouver. Our study of 17 multi-unit buildings that were identified as friendly by their residents showed that a combination of design and programming factors are needed to achieve social connectedness among neighbours. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city, social sustainability

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2017
Aylin Tavakoli

This project is about continuing the momentum in collaboratively building social connections across the Vancouver region. The goal was to explore how to build an enduring platform for sustaining and strengthening linkages between various change-makers to create a larger combined impact. The project was sparked by an event called CONNECT: Catalyzing a Social Movement. This report provides a summary of the process, findings, and outcomes of this project. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city, social sustainability

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2017
Kathleen Heggie

This study is a preliminary attempt to understand the role that small food grocers play in neighbourhood food access. The goal of the project was to develop a typology of grocery stores in the context of the City of Vancouver, to understand resident perceptions of how small grocers contribute to providing healthy, affordable and culturally-appropriate food, and to understand the potential implications of store closures on resident food access.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: local food, food systems, social sustainability

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2017
Ignatius But

The Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC), aims to create a formal program to facilitate partnerships between Vancouver’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and local post-secondary institutions. This report summarizes research completed to date and presents three potential skills-matching programs for VEC to pursue. The trajectory, required resources, business model, and risks are outlined for each option. Recommendations for implementing a more formal VEC Environmental and Social Impact (EASI) Partnerships program are also included.

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

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2017
Kerry Shaw

This framework is a guide for evaluating and monitoring area planning and the resulting development in the City of Vancouver. The evaluation framework provides the City and community with a greater understanding of the pace and alignment of development with community-based City principles and goals. Its purpose is to provide a holistic look at area planning programs, using city-wide goals and targets.

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

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2017
Allison Lasocha

The scope of this project was to research five of the City’s owned and operated theaters collectively known as Vancouver Civic Theatres in the context of the greenest city action plan focusing on waste diversion and sustainable procurement specific to food and beverage. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: zero waste, supply chain management & green procurement, sustainable development & green economy

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2017
Jun Obayashi

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