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 research engaged with the residential energy management sector in BC. Indigenous housing societies in BC require the right resources to make their homes energy efficient and net zero. This piece of work aims to contribute to educational capacity-building by exploring training opportunities, from building construction to asset management, and how they can be improved to cater to the needs of Indigenous communities better.

Partner: Aboriginal Housing Management Association
Funder: BC Hydro
Keywords: green buildings, leadership & behaviour change, sustainability in education

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2022
Rashi Chaturvedi

These plain language factsheets describe the seasonal diet selection and important interactions amoung ungulates and bears in the Tŝilhqot'in Territory. The factsheets will be used by the Nation to inform research and land management decisions as well as for educational purposes. Understanding the needs of these animals and how they interact with each other is vital to inform wildlife management decisions.

Partner: Tŝilhqot'in National Government (TNG) 
Funder: UBC
Keywords: biodiversity, ecological systems, wildlife management

2022
Orna Phelan

These factsheets summarize some of the information compiled during an extensive literature review and technical report prepared for the Tŝilhqot'in National Government. They outline the characteristics, uses of, and challenges associated with biochar. This information was compiled to help inform resource management decisions within the Tŝilhqot'in Territory, and particularly to understand if biochar could be utilized to support and/or increase forestry productivity.

Partner: Tŝilhqot'in National Government (TNG) 
Funder: UBC
Keywords: food systems, forest systems, soil 

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2022
Morgan Hamilton

This project explores opportunities for street furniture to contribute to climate resiliency and sustainability. Street furniture is a vital component of public infrastructure and exists in a busy area of the street. In the context of expected climate change impacts this report explores how street furniture renewal can support mitigation and adaptation strategies that include sustainable building practices, new technology, and urban design with a focus on equity.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Funder: City of Vancouver & UBC
Keywords: climate adaptation, climate mitigation, equity, diversity, inclusion, green buildings, supply chain management & green procurement, transportation

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2022
Amy Liebenberg

This project aims to visually communicate the importance of restoration work for the health of the Lower Fraser River. Graphic renderings raise awareness, generate public support and motivate investors, making them useful tools for achieving ecological enhancement.  By visualizing the creation of "North Arm Intertidal Habitat Park" this project examines the importance of tidal marsh habitat, and proposes an opportunity for its restoration and protection within the Fraser River Estuary.

Partner: Rivershed Society of BC
Funder: UBC
Keywords: biodiversity, ecological systems, restoration

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2022
Tess Adebar

The toolkit for installing heat pumps was developed to support the implementation of community-wide heat pumps in remote Indigenous communities. It is tailored as a knowledge-sharing platform and has been developed for anyone interested in learning about the do's, don'ts, and other considerations for heat pump installations. The toolkit covers key knowledge on funding, planning and implementation process, and maintenance. 

Partner: Coastal First Nations - Great Bear Initiative
Funder: BC Hydro
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy

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2022
Rudri Bhatt

In response to the need for research highlighting the importance of urban agriculture (UA) in BC, as well as to guide future policies surrounding UA in the province, this project identified and defined current UA initiatives in BC. This report categorizes 373 UA initiatives in the province according to location, type of initiative (e.g., community garden), land ownership, and educational component (if present), and provides recommendations for future research. 

Partner: Public Health Association of Canada
Funder: UBC
Keywords: food systems, social sustainability, sustainable development & green economy

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2022
Gabrielle Edwards

Food systems in BC are riddled with inequalities. Planning offers a unique site to enact social justice in community food systems to avoid reinforcing and replicating historical harms and injustices. The objectives of the Representation and Engagement Tool are to a) examine the representation and engagement problematic patterns, and b) build the capacity of individuals and community organizations to integrate Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) in community food system planning.

Partner: Public Health Association of Canada
Funder: UBC
Keywords: food systems, leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability

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2022
Tebogo T Leepile

This report explores the relationship between street and sidewalk pavement rehabilitation and their impacts on the urban forest. Trees are a powerful tool for combatting extreme heat, but street trees are often grown in constrained environments. Streets in need of rehabilitation or replacement are identified, and the report asks whether those streets can serve other ecological functions that contribute to the City of Vancouver's Climate Emergency Action Plan targets.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Funder: City of Vancouver & UBC 
Keywords: climate adaptation, climate mitigation, green infrastructure, biodiversity, ecological systems, transportation

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2022
Trey Schiefelbein

This report aims to study the potential of establishing an innovation, training, and optimization space (ITO) within the wastewater treatment plants operated by Metro Vancouver. The report summarizes the surveys and interviews targeting around 20 municipalities to understand the incentives and obstacles of pursuing innovation and research in municipal wastewater treatment. The report also outlines some business and operation models of ITOs or similar institutions that can be used as references.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Funder: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: green buildings, waste management & recycling, water 

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2022
Jiashu Yang

This project catalogues common design strategies used in very high performing residential buildings, and identifies where they intersect with the Township of Langley's Form and Character Guidelines. Four major design trends emerged among high-performance buildings catalogued in the report: orientation to maximize southern exposure, simple overall form, thoughtful window placement, and the use of exterior shading devices.

Partner: Township of Langley
Funder: BC Hydro
Keywords: green buildings, sustainable development & green economy

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2022
Sarah Garland

Heat pumps are an effective tool for decarbonizing and increasing the climate resilience of buildings in Kamloops. However, challenges such as higher upfront cost and perceptions about reliability issues need to be addressed to increase the uptake of heat pumps. This report suggests that heat pump uptake can be improved with adequate financial support, effective marketing tools, increased consumer awareness, and compelling customer propositions. 

Partner: City of Kamloops
Funder: BC Hydro
Keywords: green buildings

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2022
Gaurav Singh

This report investigates the CO2 emissions resulting from the construction and operation of underground parking garages to halp inform the development of parking minimums and restrictions in the City of Vancouver. In this context, this study performed a Life Cycle CO2 -Eq analysis based on the literature and Vancouver data, and different scenarios of operation to evaluate the results.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Funder: City of Vancouver & UBC
Keywords: active transportation, climate action, climate mitigation, green buildings, sustainable development & green economy, CO2 emissions

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2022
Thais Ayres Rebello

 This report provides an overarching framework to incorporate a climate risk component into a central, standardized decision-making tool for all asset classes within the Engineering Services Department at the City of Vancouver. The report makes specific recommendations, chief amongst them is to follow a customized service delivery-centric approach based upon the FCM guide.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Funder: City of Vancouver & UBC
Keywords: climate action, climate adaptation, climate mitigation, ecological systems

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2022
Varun Gupta

This project aims to interweave Indigenous knowledge  and values into Foreshore Integrated Management Planning (FIMP), a decision-making tool that improves the quality and quantity of information about lake foreshore habitat integrity to inform evidence-based decision-making. Developed with the Upper Nicola Band, the framework presents an opportunity to position Indigenous Nations as a governmental body with decision-making power and for Indigenous knowledge to be a priority and a normalized reference point.  

Partner: Living Lakes Canada
Funder: UBC
Keywords: ecological systems, water

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2022
Bryce Henney, Mehrnaz Soleimanpour & Yiming Zhang

This project supports the City of Vancouver's ongoing community mobilization work on meaningful climate action. Through a brief literature review and a series of interviews with other municipalities around the world regarding their ongoing community-oriented sustainability initiatives, best practices were identified to guide and inform draft climate literacy materials intended for use among City staff and by members of mobilization networks.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Funder: City of Vancouver & UBC
Keywords: climate action, leadership & behaviour change

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2022
Samantha Bowen

This research project involved a literature review to develop several case studies of collaborative flood management governance regimes that proactively consider climate change, ecosystems, food security, indigenous rights, and flood risk. To present valuable experiences from real-world case studies, the research reviewed several promising integrated floodplain management programs and some associated projects, such as a agricultural floodplain pilot, levee setbacks, and tidal marsh restoration.

Partner: Resilient Waters
Funder: UBC
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, flood risk, indigenous rights

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2022
Saeed Mohammadiun

The purpose of this project was to help develop sustainable supply chain strategies for Herschel Supply to minimize negative and create positive impact for the planet. The work included: 
1. Assessing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with scope 1, 2, 3 data, and creating Science Based Targets (SBTs)
2. Completing the Higg-Index Brand & Retail Module (Higg-BRM) using the Sustainable Apparel Coalition's (SAC) Higg-Index tools and present action plan 
3. Review and presentation of the latest industry trends in sustainable practices and innovations in fashion and retail spaces

Partner: Herschel Supply Co.
Funder: Herschel Supply Co.
Keywords: supply chain management & green procurement, sustainable fashion, carbon reduction strategies

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2022
Namrita Lamba

This project aims to identify low-emission alternatives to open burning of residential vegetative waste and discourage burning of yard waste among residents outside the urban containment boundaries of Metro Vancouver because of the health and air quality implications of burning. The fire bylaws in most municipalities focus on fire safety more than air quality and limit burning to wet seasons which adversely affect air quality.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Funder: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling, Residential Vegetative Waste, Yard Waste Management, Green Waste

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2022
Monday Michael

This project aims to raise awareness about climate risks and adaptive actions to the general public of Northeast British Columbia, and equip local governments in the Northeast with knowledge surrounding climate change communications and engagement. It has two primary outputs: (1) a virtual climate change engagement best practice overview, including engagement tools, considerations for communication, and case studies; and, (2) a virtual engagement pilot project carried out within Dawson Creek, BC.

Partner: Fraser Basin Council
Funder: UBC
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability

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2022
Giulia Belotti, Margaryta Pustova, Madelaine Parent

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