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 summary report documents an initial step by the Equity and Inclusion Office at UBC to create a standardized analysis of what qualifies as equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) content in courses and to map the presence of these courses within the Faculty of Arts. This is the start of a larger scale project to track the strengths and trends of how EDI is represented in curricular offerings at UBC.

Partner: UBC Equity Diversity & Inclusion
Keywords: social sustainability, sustainability in education

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2019
Elydah Joyce

This report synthesizes the outcomes of the various elements of the Lower Fraser Valley visual air quality pilot study and, where possible, identifies the key features of the study that could be relevant to developing recommendations for a visual air quality program. Regional work on visual air quality has been coordinated by the BC Visibility Coordinating Committee. Results, findings and recommendations arising from the pilot study inform the development of actions for improving visual air quality.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: sustainable development, green economy

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2019
Bianca Ravani Cecato

This project aims to review pricing strategies used in other jurisdictions that charge for a wide range of wastewater contaminants other than biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS) and volume and evaluate these strategies for use in the Metro Vancouver context. Includes recommendations to develop similar pricing strategies for contaminants, and the information and data required to develop the new contaminant fees.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: waste management & recycling, water, contaminants, fees

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2019
Varshini Baskar

This project aims to gain a better understanding of the relationship between N2O emissions and wastewater treatment plant processes in Metro Vancouver. A literature review was conducted to investigate the potential sources of N2O emissions in Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, potential measurement methods and measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from Metro Vancouver wastewater treatment plants.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: water

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2019
Yehan Chen

Background research and practical resources to support the Fraser Health Energy, Environment and Sustainability team. This report details the significance of chemicals of concern and presents informative resources to support the Zero Waste and Toxicity program at Fraser Health. This work aims to raise awareness among stakeholders and transition towards reducing chemical exposure across Lower Mainland facilities, health care services and supporting operations.

Partner: Fraser Health
Keywords: supply chain management & green procurement, waste management & recycling

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2019
Brianne Della Savia

The goal of this project is to increase BC Energy Step Code adoption in small and medium communities by optimizing the Community Energy Association's support efforts. This report focuses specifically on the unique challenges and opportunities of implementing the BC Energy Step Code in smaller communities by identifying common barriers and determining actions for the Community Energy Association moving forward. This research is largely informed by interviews conducted with planners and building officials.

Partner: Community Energy Association
Keywords: green buildings, leadership & behaviour change

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2019
Geneva Lloyd

This project aims to introduce elements of a new business model to dramatically increase the number of electric air source heat pumps in Metro Vancouver to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets. Recommendations include the use of an ASHP rental program, demand aggregators, on-bill and property assessed clean energy/local improved charge financing, renewable heat incentives, carbon off-sets, and partnerships with contractors and manufacturers.

Partner: Community Energy Association
Keywords: green buildings, supply chain management & green procurement, sustainable development & green economy

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2019
Aaron Nelson

The purpose of this report is to understand the current ability to implement renewable energy for backup power solutions. A review of current technologies in energy storage, and alternative fuels was analyzed to recommend a final hybrid based solution that would be best suited for residential buildings.

Partner: BC Housing
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy, resilience

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2019
Derek Oppedisano

This report aims to develop a framework for future energy codes that address some of the limitations that exist with current codes.

Partner: BC Housing
Keywords: green buildings, social sustainability

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2019
Helena Behnam

In the new era of sustainable mobility, the focus is mostly on the environmental impacts of electric, autonomous and shared vehicles, yet they will also have other meaningful impacts on regional economies. Not warranting enough attention to the economic aspect would not give us a complete picture of the impacts of these new modes of transportation. To this end, we estimated the regional economic impacts of SAVEs in Metro Vancouver.

Partner: TransLink
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, transportation, economic impact

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2019
Shabnam Hossein Khalaj

In recent years, the City of New Westminster has prioritized health and wellbeing, stimulating discussion of how two of its legacy recreation facilities (Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre) contribute to health and wellbeing and how a new facility might improve baseline levels. This project was developed to investigate how these facilities currently contribute to community health and wellbeing, with the intention of being used in the future for the new facility for comparison.

Partner: City of New Westminster
Keywords: recreation, health & wellbeing, equity

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2019
Laura Chow

This report investigates research collaborations between the University of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver or other municipalities in Greater Vancouver on sustainability and liveability issues since 2010. The study's objective is to better understand how to increase and improve such research collaborations. The report includes recommendations to inform the development and implementation of city-university partnerships in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Partner: UBC Sustainability Initiative (Urban Innovation Research)
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, sustainability in education

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2019
Stefan U. Pauer

This project assesses the GHG impact of the City of Vancouver's food procurement practices and identifies policy priorities, considering other municipalities' work and equity challenges associated with implementing changes within institutional food provision. This analysis suggests that the most effective GHG emission reduction strategy is a dietary shift away from meat, particularly beef and pork, but strong partnerships with stakeholders are required to understand existing inequities in choices among clientele

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: climate and renewables, lighter footprint, local food

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2019
Poushali Maji

This project aims to identify and evaluate beneficial opportunities to repurpose excavated disposed soils to reach the goals highlighted in the City of Vancouver's Zero Waste 2040 plan. This project includes amount and composition of incoming soils to the Vancouver Landfill, a forecast of future inflow soils tonnage to the Vancouver Landfill, possible soil repurposing options and highlighted viable options for the City of Vancouver.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: lighter footprint, zero waste

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2019
Bhushan Goyal

This project comprises a literature review of groundwater for non-potable use. The scope includes an overview of groundwater use, licensing, non-potable water initiatives, and case studies in three cities (San Francisco, Perth and Los Angeles). The objective is to understand how these municipalities have planned, implemented and regulated non-potable groundwater use, and provide suggestions on approaches that could be applied at the City of Vancouver.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: clean water, green buildings, healthy city

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2019
Nathalie Gomes

In Canada, 58% of food intended for human consumption is wasted. This project directly supports the City of Vancouver's Zero Waste 2040 goal to become a leading city in food waste prevention. It uses a behaviour change perspective to identify best practices for food waste avoidance and rescue in the grocery retail sector, and ways in which the City can engage and support adoption of best practices.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: lighter footprint, zero waste

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2019
Andrea Byfuglien

In the past, small-scale neighbourhood retail played a larger role in Vancouver's residential neighbourhoods. This project inventories the remaining and former small-scale neighbourhood retail sites in Vancouver. It also lists the values and challenges that come with this type of retail. Moreover, it includes a list of policy interventions that could help make neighbourhood retail more viable in Vancouver.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: green transportation, healthy city, local food

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2019
Jacqueline Hunter

This research project investigates the building energy consumption modelling assumptions laid-out in the City of Vancouver Energy Modelling Guidelines (EMG) and the BC Energy Step Code by calibrating these baseline assumptions using actual building energy consumption data. The key findings developed in this research study suggest improvements and recommendation on the current version of the City of Vancouver Energy Modelling Guidelines and the Zero Emissions Building Plan (ZEBP).

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: green buildings

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2019
Sarah Crosby

This project supports the development of a neighbourhood-scale post-occupancy evaluation (POE) framework to gain an understanding of where Vancouver's Southeast False Creek (SEFC) stands according to its performance targets set over a decade ago. More broadly, the intent is to be able to adapt and apply the SEFC post-occupancy framework to other neighbourhoods within the City of Vancouver, and inform future area plans and city-wide planning, while building internal capacity for continued POE work.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: climate and renewables, healthy city, local food

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2019
Christine Nesbitt

An examination of current approaches to evaluating the inclusiveness of public spaces. Research has established that public spaces are beneficial for environmental and social sustainability, economic development, promoting positive health outcomes, building a sense of community and enhancing perceptions of social connectedness, welcomeness and safety. This work seeks to identify challenges and learn from existing public space practices to inform public space policies, programs, and projects.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: green transportation, healthy city, lighter footprint 

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2019
Stella Zhou

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