Developing effective solutions to tackle human-induced climate change relies on interdisciplinary approaches and collaboration between researchers and climate solution decision-makers. PICS unites experts from British Columbia’s four research universities with government, businesses and community leaders to generate evidence-based, usable and durable solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Our climate solutions research supports BC’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and contributes to resiliency across industry, business and multi-level government policies.

We are pioneering collaborative, user-engaged research that convenes key partners to co-design, co-develop and co-deliver climate solutions for BC, Canada and potentially the world. For PICS, this means working together with the right complement of partners to effectively engage researchers, policymakers and decision-makers to solve climate challenges and realize opportunities in BC and beyond. Strategic, targeted engagement and communication are key components of our approach.

Collaborative Research Program 

The PICS collaborative model relies on three kinds of contributing partners:

Solution Partners bring practical, domain knowledge and experience. They play a key role in identifying and framing the problem, developing solutions and supporting the application of results, helping to translate theory to action. Solution Partners may be based in private sector, governmental or non-governmental organizations.

Research Partners bring theoretical knowledge and experience, research skills and academic excellence to the project to help generate and transform novel ideas to produce new knowledge and social, technical and institutional innovations.

- The PICS Partner is a knowledge broker that supports relationships and networks; provides training and financial support. We are a catalyst for action, engagement and communication to help realize and track intended outcomes and impacts.

Visit the PICS website to learn more about our Collaborative Research Program.

PICS Theme Partnership Program

PICS new $1 Million Theme Partnership Program supports research into particularly complex—and critically important—climate mitigation and adaptation challenges. Theme projects will connect top researchers with policy, industry and community leaders to develop climate solutions and legacy partnerships for British Columbia and beyond. We invite project proposals that aspire to build global leadership in climate solutions.

Quick facts:

  • Each award is capped at $250,000 per year for a total allocation of up to $1-million over four years. PICS will make one award in 2019 and then every 12-to-18 months on an ongoing basis.
  • Application involves a two-phase review process beginning with a letter of intent (LOI) submitted by a full-time faculty member from a PICS university—i.e. the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University or the University of Northern British Columbia. Selected candidates are then invited to complete a full proposal.
  • Projects must involve a Solution Seeker partner in the design, development and results implementation. Participation of researchers from more than one PICS university is encouraged.
  • There is no restriction on the number or location of researchers, but proposals should be relevant to BC. At least half of project costs must be allocated to salaries of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at one of PICS’ research universities.


One award will be made from this call.  Notification of LOI adjudication decisions is anticipated by mid-December 2021. Invited full proposals are due before March 15, 2022.

Visit the PICS website to learn more about this research opportunity.  Read the 2021 Competition Guide for Applicants. Enquiries can also be made by emailing


PICS Opportunity Projects Program

The PICS Opportunity Projects Program provides support for research projects that develop new knowledge that is used directly for climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions. The program is intended to fund projects that result in tangible action. This program invites proposals that advance innovative and impactful ideas, generate new climate solutions, and forge novel partnerships between academics and knowledge users that we at PICS call Solution Seekers.  Solution Seekers – who may be based in the private sector, government, First Nations, civil society or non-governmental organizations – play a key role in identifying and framing the problem, developing solutions, and ultimately implementing the results.

Learn more by reading the Opportunity Projects Program 2021 Competition Guide for Applicants.  

For further enquiries, contact

Current Opportunity Projects led by SFU Researchers

  • Integration of Mobile Thermal Storage in City of Surrey’s District Energy Network. Project lead: Majid Bahrami, SFU

District energy networks can play a central role in reducing building-related emissions due to their high efficiency and the flexibility they offer for integrating energy from renewable sources. The building sector is a major contributor to GHG emissions in Canada and worldwide. In collaboration with the City of Surrey and Canmet ENERGY, this project aims to develop a novel modular (scalable) thermochemical-based mobile thermal energy storage (M-TES). The proposed system will be capable of capturing waste heat from distributed, non-connected sources and moving this heat to connect into a district energy system. The heat stored in the M-TES can be used for load shaping and to offset requirements for generating peak power from non-renewable sources. The resulting benefits from this project include a reduced reliance on non-renewable fuels for peak loads, reduced carbon emissions and lower operating costs. The project will serve as an example for sustainable energy initiatives in other municipalities in BC and beyond. Please visit the project page for more information.

  • Designing solutions to the hidden impacts of climate change on Canada’s undersea forests.  Project lead: Anne Salomon, SFU

In 2015 First Nations communities on central BC’s coast observed an expansive outbreak of an encrusting bryozoan. This outbreak occurred in correlation with extreme ocean temperature anomalies (“warm blob”) in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Giant kelps were heavily encrusted by the bryozoan, causing them to sink to the seafloor where they rapidly disintegrated. This project—in partnership with the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance that encompasses all four First Nations of BC’s central coast (Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo/ Xai’ xais Nation, Nuxalk Nation and the Wuikinuxv Nation)—will determine whether adaptive management of traditional community-based kelp harvest and herring spawn-on-kelp fisheries can minimize the negative impact of temperature-induced bryozoan outbreaks. This project aims to enhance the resilience of both kelp forest ecosystems and coastal communities to climate change. Please visit the project page for more information.

  • Innovation Policy meets Climate Policy. Project lead: Mark Jaccard and Elicia Maine, SFU

Industrial deep decarbonization is needed for Canada to achieve a net-zero emissions target by 2050.

This will require inducing technological changes which transition existing emissions-intensive processes to zero-emission. However, policies introduced by Canadian federal and provincial governments which require GHG emission reductions in Emissions-Intensive and Trade-Exposed (EITE) industries may induce carbon leakage, a phenomenon of incentivizing emissions-intensive processes to be outsourced to jurisdictions which do not implement climate policies.

This project will evaluate government policy and innovation strategies designed to transition emissions-intensive technologies to net-zero, while providing solutions to mitigate the risks of carbon leakage and create future economic opportunities for BC and Canada. In partnership with PICS and Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre. Please visit the project page for more information.


Past Programs

Phase II projects - the PICS "Big 5": 

Current research initiatives include five major policy-relevant projects (the “Big Five”) developed under Phase II of the Strategic Research Plan, plus several dozen graduate and post-doctoral fellowships and 10 employment internships each year.

PICS Strategic Research Plan: Phase II

SFU researchers involved in this project are Dr. Nancy Olewiler (PI) and Dr. Diana Allen.

SFU researchers involved in this project are Dr. Jonn Axsen, Dr. Erik Kjeang and Dr. Elicia Maine.

SFU researchers involved in this project is Dr. Mark Jaccard and his team.

Dr. Ken Lertzman is a member of the advisory team for this project.


Special Project

Opportunities for waterborne disease prevention with extreme precipitation events

Tim K. Takaro, MD, MPH, MS.  Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Researchers are working with public health agencies and scientists to identify mechanisms for preventing waterborne diseases arising from extreme precipitation events that affect Metro Vancouver municipal water systems. For example, water system funders could prioritize which watersheds to focus filtration or other infrastructure in advance of increased stress on the systems.

Phase I projects

The past PICS Strategic Research Plan: Phase I was based on questions arising from these workshops.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) researchers are involved in 11 of 34 PICS climate change research projects (Phase I) reaching a total of $819,064 dollars in funding.

Next Steps on B.C.’s Carbon Tax: Assessing Alternatives and Searching for Common Ground.

Co-led by professor Mark Jaccard, Energy and Materials Research Group in the School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM), Faculty of Environment. This project will explore the design of alternative carbon tax policies for post-2012 through a mix of interviews, polling and economic modeling. This research will help decision-makers determine the trade-offs between different policy design issues and prepare a post-2012 carbon tax policy schedule that will effectively balance environmental, economic and social goals. 


Community Energy and Emissions Simulation Model.

Co-led by Chris Bataille, an adjunct professor in the School of REM, this project will develop a user-friendly computer model to facilitate energy and emissions planning by local governments. The goal is to build local governments’ capacity to reduce green house gas emissions and contribute to a sustainable energy future.

Link to report and CIMS model

Toward Sustainable Communities: The Living Edition.

Co-led by Mark Roseland, director of SFU’s Centre for Sustainable Community Development, this project update Roseland’s very successful, made-in-Canada resource guide for communities seeking sustainability. Toward Sustainable Communities, released in June 2012, traces the rapid growth of sustainability over the last two decades and set the stage for future sustainable community development.   The book is conceptually and practically linked to Pando | Sustainable Communities (, a multilingual online network designed to promote knowledge-sharing and collaboration among sustainable communities researchers and practitioners.

Sustainable Communities Research Network.

Completed in 2012, this project - led by Mark Roseland - enabled SFU's Centre for Sustainable Community Development to design and launch Pando | Sustainable Communities, a multilingual online network that facilitates connection, collaboration and knowledge-sharing among sustainable communities researchers in academia and practitioners in government, NGOs and private-sector organizations. Designed for a user base of planners, local government staff, elected officials, consultants, developers, professors, and students in graduate and doctoral programs, Pando allows members to create profiles, engage in forum discussions, share resources and learning, post events, make new professional connections, organize meetings, and receive customized content. The network promises to stimulate interdisciplinary thinking, more relevant community-based sustainability research, and speedier dissemination of good ideas. It was officially unveiled in Brazil to a global researcher/practitioner community at events surrounding the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

Visit Pando | Sustainable Communities (

Place-Based Policy Making and Community Resilience-Building for Climate Change.

Political science professor Michael Howlett lead this collaborative project, involving academics nationwide and federal government departments. This project evaluated the capacity of local governments and communities to participate in multi-level government climate change decision-making and to implement high-quality evidence-based or place-based policy initiatives.


Research in Partnerships with other Institutions

Greenest City Conversations Project.

Greenest City Conversations (GCC) is a multi-partner research project aimed at fostering and evaluating public engagement on sustainability policies. Its two goals are (1) to create discussion and analyze public attitudes towards sustainability policies; and (2) to assess the impacts of different modes of public engagement including digital media, scenario visualization, mobile applications, tabletop games, and art performances.

Project team: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, City of Vancouver


Outreach: Plublic Lecture "Engaging with Greenest City Conversations"

A day in my carbon neutral life

What we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint can be significantly limited by the world we live in — for example, where we can afford to live, how the goods we buy are produced and what transportation systems exist. Through a reality-TV style multimedia production, this project will explore the changes needed to get there. This project – which profiles real BC families from different income, cultural and geographic backgrounds — will help demystify the changes needed in how we live, work, play and move around, if BC is to become carbon neutral.

Project Team: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina Institute, SAP Canada, BC Healthy Communities, Vancity

Product: The Good Life, The Green Life video

Outreach: Public Lecture "The Good Life, The Green Life"

Assessing the Potential Aquatic Habitat Value of Streams Responding to a Changing Climate.

This project will produce numerical models predicting the impacts of climate change on potential fish habitat in BC streams, based on forecast changes in stream flow and sediment supply. The findings will be used to determine the best model for use by decision-makers trying to protect fish stocks. If the pilot study is successful, researchers will develop a generic version of the model that is applicable to a wider range of BC stream types and fish species.

Project team: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations


The Alouette River basin: the developing urban fringe at the interface with protected landscapes in coastal British Columbia and consequences for ecosystem resilience.

As temperatures warm, summer precipitation declines, and human demands for water increase, periods of water shortage are likely. This project will use long-term flow data from an urban and agricultural watershed to examine how changes in hydrology might affect water supplies to freshwater ecosystems downstream, and how different uses of water by humans (e.g. wells, diversions, legal and illegal withdrawals) might impact the fish and other species living in and alongside water.

Project team: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University


Climate and ecosystem dynamics on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands: A historical perspective on strategies for restoration, management, and population recovery Garry oak is BC's only native oak.

Three major factors causing its decline are fire suppression, deer browsing, and climate change, along with related stressors such as invasive species. This project involves "on-the-ground" research using prescribed fire and deer exclosures, as well monitoring ecosystem change due to climate change. Understanding how these factors interact will help restore and maintain Garry oak ecosystems.

Project team: University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, University of Guelph, University of Sherbrooke, Parks Canada


Pellatt, M. & Gedalof, Z. 2014. Environmental change in Garry oak (Quercus garryana) ecosystems: the evolution of an eco-cultural landscape.

McCune, J. & Pellatt, M. 2013. Phytoliths of Southeastern Vancouver Island, Canada, and their potential use to reconstruct shifting boundaries between Douglas-fir forest and oak savannah.

Meeting the climate change challenge: community responses to BC climate policy.

British Columbia is at the forefront of innovative climate policies, such as the carbon tax and the requirement for all public sector organizations to be carbon neutral. Meeting the Climate Change Challenge (MC3) is partnering with BC municipalities, regional districts and First Nations communities to identify and investigate innovative municipal approaches to provincial climate policy and document best practices, as well as encourage knowledge exchange and mobilization between communities in order to encourage other jurisdictions across North America to develop active climate policy regimes. For more information, visit

Project team: Royal Roads University, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University

Outreach: Public Lecture "Meeting the Climate Change Challenge"