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 investigates different ownership models for renewable energy projects with Indigenous involvement in Canada. The ownership models are presented through case studies of past and current projects with the majority of cases being for remote renewable energy projects. The report presents and explains the different models and their uses and explores common themes important to the success of projects in partnership with a First Nation or Indigenous community.

Partner: Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, sustainable development & green economy

Arthur Bledsoe

This open-access toolkit is meant to serve First Nations across the Pacific Northwest as they navigate the creation and management of housing governance options for their communities. This includes an overview to better understand the housing system, a critical examination of why the current system does not work, and solutions for innovative community-centered housing governance models that are based in cultural wellbeing, economic security, and environmental sustainability.

Link to online toolkit:

Partner: Ecotrust
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, sustainable development & green economy

Ashli Akins

This project aims to investigate entry pathways of pharmaceuticals into Metro Vancouver wastewater to identify opportunities for source control interventions. A major component was understanding the current operation of the drug take-back program in BC. Recommended interventions included improvements in the drug take-back program promotion and operation and alternative strategies for the monitoring and risk assessment of chemicals. 

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

Georgia Green

This project examines whether Metro Vancouver’s residuals (biosolids and drinking water treatment residuals) and Biosolids Growing Medium (BGM), can be used as components in growing media to enhance and optimize the performance of Low Impact Development landscapes within Metro Vancouver. Includes a review of existing regulations, current practices, and scientific literature. This project identifies opportunities for the use of residuals and BGM in addressing stormwater challenges in the region.

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

Amzy Vallenas

This project explores best practices for policy and regulatory approaches for reducing embodied emissions in new construction and how these practices may be incorporated into a framework such as the BC Energy Step Code. The research identifies opportunities for local government and industry to reduce embodied emissions in new construction and makes recommendations to support the District of North Vancouver’s interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector.

Partner: District of North Vancouver
Keywords: green buildings, embodied emissions

Amir Kari

This report examines the intersection between human rights and land use planning. It reviews key concepts, including the applicable legal framework, and considers practical issues in human rights and land use planning. The report aims to help the City of Vancouver identify actions and future work on this topic through provincial and municipal examples and recommendations on how a human rights lens can be applied to the City's work in land use planning.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city, land use planning, leadership, behavior change, social sustainability

Stanley Omotor

Energy conservation plays a key role in reducing climate change. Unfortunately, energy conservation is a boring topic for most people. Smart speaker technologies have components that can make energy conservation more exciting. This project aims to explore critical design features of smart speaker applications that can be leveraged to increase engagement and promote behavioral change towards energy conservation.

Partner: BC Hydro
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, sustainable development & green economy, water

Qomaruliati Setiawati

The purpose of this evaluation was to determine whether the Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) Education Portal was effective at supporting MHSU education and service navigation for point of care staff and leaders at urban, rural, and remote sites within the Vancouver Coastal community of care. This includes evaluating the reach, relevance, and usability of the MHSU Education Portal, as well as identifying areas of improvement and highlighting gaps in content.

Partner: Vancouver Coastal Health
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, sustainability in education

Natasha Parent

Demolitions of homes built after 1970 are expected to increase in Metro Vancouver. This study aims to advance zero waste strategies in Metro Vancouver by examining the recycling and reuse potential of materials found in single-family homes built after 1970. The study focuses mostly on the diversion potential of wood materials because they make up the highest share of the regional construction and demolition waste stream by weight.

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

Jacob Forrest

This project aims to understand global best practices for quantifying reuse and assessing their applicability to the Metro Vancouver region. The project looked at three reuse industries in Metro Vancouver (textiles, electronics, and furniture), identified the key players and attempted to collect data from these organizations. Also included are the challenges encountered and suggestions for quantifying reuse in the Metro Vancouver area.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: supply chain management & green procurement, waste management & recycling

Simone Rawal

Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) is a form of alternate fuel which is manufactured from Residual Waste and can be used by industries as a replacement for fossil fuel. This report aims to provide the City of Vancouver a better understanding of RDF products currently being produced around the world and identify key potential RDF consumer markets within British Columbia. The outcome of this project highlights exploratory options for reaching Vancouver's Zero Waste goals.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: climate mitigation, green economy, zero waste, sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling, Waste to Energy 

Harshit Srivastava

Research for this project analysed the highest emitting building sectors in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon and deveoloped retrofit strategies to mitigate this. The report shows that unless local governments obtain greater authority to require GHG emissions reductions from the commercial building sector and Multi Unit Residential Buildings, we cannot reduce GHG emissions from existing buildings 80% to 100% below 2007 levels by 2050.

Partner: Community Energy Association
Keywords: green buildings

Parniyan Golkar

This is a framework for how to measure social capital, with a focus on community mobilization for climate action. Both an analysis spreadsheet with current data trends in the Vancouver context, as well as a report covering a literature review, the framework with a metric on how to generate indicators, an analysis of how social capital impacts community mobilization, and recommendations are offered.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: climate action, climate mitigation, equity, diversity, inclusion, leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, social capital, community mobilization, trends in data

Michael Unrau

The purpose of this report is to provide recommendations on how the City of Vancouver can collaborate and work alongside Indigenous communities, on whose unceded land it is located, to address and support social and environmental resilience. Can the City collaborate and foster relationships that uplift the Indigenous voice and protect sacred knowledge, for the combined goal of environmental and social resilience for futures to come?

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: climate mitigation, equity, diversity, inclusion, healthy city, leadership & behaviour change, sustainability in education, sustainable development & green economy

Atlanta Grant

This project aims to assess the potential to reduce the embodied carbon emissions of low-rise residential construction using materials and products available to the Vancouver market. It provides a building supply inventory and information about local suppliers that can be used by local builders, developers, and designers to specify low carbon products. The results include recommendations for improving the embodied carbon footprint of low-rise residential buildings.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: climate mitigation, green infrastructure, low carbon buildings, green buildings, supply chain management & green procurement

Shiva Zargar Ershadi

This project aims to review the existing literature on cycling data collection, examine Vancouver's existing practices and goals, and provide recommendations on improving cycling data collection practices within the City. It is important to ensure that collected cycling data is representative of the City's diversity. The report summarizes the context and provides recommendations on areas of improvement related to count data type, count location, frequency, context, and means of analysis.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: active transportation, climate action, equity, diversity, inclusion, transportation, data collection, cycling

Amir Hassanpour

This project identifies opportunities for aligning Vancouver Park Board work with the Burrard Inlet Action Plan, a strategic marine environmental plan from Tsleil-Waututh Nation that expresses their vision for a healthy Burrard Inlet. The opportunities focus on marine habitat restoration and protection actions in Stanley Park, CRAB Park, and New Brighton Park, and also include general opportunities for broader Park Board work. This is a public summary of the project process and outcomes.

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

Tecla Van Bussel

This report lays the foundation for an integrated and connected park network. By understanding park mobility infrastructure and existing greenway interactions the Park Board can determine safe, efficient, environmentally sound and community-directed mobility near, to, and through parks. Specifically, this report identifies key planning observations and considerations as well as a mobility classification system to align future park development with the goal of an integrated park system.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: access to nature, active transportation, green infrastructure, transportation

Kevin Parsons

This project provides a review of ideas and examples for tenant governance initiatives to act as a guiding resource for tenants, advocates, housing providers, and governments working to increase tenant governance in low-income housing. Includes key findings and recommendations for supporting future tenant governance projects based on information from relevant literature, case studies, and community stakeholder interviews.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: equity, diversity, inclusion, healthy city, leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability

Jamin Short

This report includes an overview and analysis of a GIS mapping overlay for green rainwater infrastructure (GRI) assets at twenty-two applications proposed for site developments at the building permit review stage on private sites as of May 3, 2021. As the project is in support of the Rain City Strategy and Rainwater Management Bulletin, the analysis focuses on how GRI could impact the volume of rainwater capture, the total area of green space, and peak flow rate.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: clean water green infrastructure, healthy city, green buildings, sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling

Zurui Gao