media release

SFU secures funding for climate change solutions

May 13, 2014

Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035,
Robyn Meyer, PICS senior comm., 250.588.4053,

Four Simon Fraser University research initiatives are among 11 new projects to receive 2014 fellowships collectively worth almost half-a-million dollars from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS).

The SFU initiatives will together receive $156,000 in PICS funding. They aim to achieve the following: develop new climate-friendly refrigerators, improve carbon pollution cost accountability, address climate-change issues in First Nations communities and manage climate-change-related extreme heat events.

The University of Victoria hosts and leads PICS in collaboration with Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Northern British Columbia.

PICS was created in 2008 with a $90-million endowment fund from the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

PICS’ mission is to establish partnerships with governments, the private sector, researchers and civil society to research, monitor and assess climate change’s potential impacts. PICS also evaluates, develops and promotes viable mitigation and adaptation options to better inform climate change options and actions.

PICS executive director Tom Pedersen says the world requires technical innovation and societal change to cope with climate change and to reduce human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

“With an emphasis on practical solutions,” adds Pedersen, “these fellowships will help British Columbia at a policy, personal and organizational level to take the right steps toward mitigating and slowing climate change.”

Doctoral and master’s students under the guidance of established researchers will carry out the two-to-three year projects supported by these fellowships. The researchers will work with experts from a range of university disciplines, as well as governments, NGOs and industry.

Backgrounder on SFU fellowships:

Project proponent: Majid Bahrami, Mechatronic Systems Engineering assoc. prof.
Doctoral student: Khorshid Fayazmanesh, 604.773.1453,
Project collaborators: SFU’s Laboratory of Alternative Energy Conversion, 4DLABS and Dept. of Chemistry

Development of advanced composite materials for adsorption cooling systems
Refrigeration and air-conditioning systems worldwide consume a significant amount of electricity and contribute to global warming. Although less harmful than their ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) predecessor, commonly used vapour-compression devices are greenhouse gas (GHG) creators, as well as big energy users. This project supports the creation of a new generation of energy-efficient adsorption cooling systems that typically use water as a refrigerant, and are powered by solar energy or waste heat. By testing new materials and prototypes, and creating more compact systems with greater cooling powers, researchers hope to increase the commercial use of this sustainable technology.

Project proponent: Mark Jaccard, professor, School of Resource & Environmental Management
Master’s student: Kaitlin Boyd, 250.572.0989,
Project collaboration: Project incorporates scientific research from the areas of climatology, ecology and economics, among others.

The social cost of carbon and Canadian climate policy
This project will provide a refined and more accurate calculation of the social cost of carbon (SCC), which is a key economic measure for estimating the marginal cost of damage from climate change. It is particularly germane given Canada’s stated 2020 greenhouse gas reduction targets: a 17 per cent reduction from 2005 levels. Using the world-leading models and the most up-to-date scientific/economic research, including estimates of the cost of non-market damages, the results will be compared to current SCC estimates. An improved SCC will allow for more robust benefit-cost analyses and environmental impact assessments of new infrastructure and development projects in B.C. and throughout Canada, such as building liquefied natural gas plants or additional pipelines. The research will be of value to economists, policymakers and politicians as the climate system warms and the associated economic, social and environmental costs to Canadians become significant.

Project proponent: David Zandvliet, associate professor, Institute for Environmental Learning, Faculty of Education
Master’s student: Barbara Wilson, 250.559.8884,, (Note: lives in Haida Gwaii and working on project in Skidegate)
Project collaborators: Council of the Haida Nation and other researchers

Educating/mobilizing communities in a changing climate:
Initiating action on Haida Gwaii

This project will draw on the traditions and culture of the Haida Nation to develop climate-change mitigation and adaptation strategies for those living on Haida Gwaii, off B.C.’s north coast. It will also contribute to solutions for other First Nations communities. This work will also develop specific steps toward achieving resolutions set by the Haida’s governing body, the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), in areas such as financial support. It will identify available technologies or alternative energy sources to the mainstay, diesel. First Nations communities face unique challenges to their culture and way of life from climate change, and this study will help better represent their interests. The research will be carried out by a respected scholar and elder from Haida Gwaii, and will engage a broad range of stakeholders including educators, business leaders, youth and the CHN.

Project proponent: Anders Knudby, assistant professor, Dept. of Geography, assistant prof.
Doctoral student: Derrick Ho, 778.782.4556,
Project collaborators: UBC, City of Vancouver, BC Centre for Disease Control, plus urban planning and public health authorities

Mapping and managing heat-related vulnerability and mortality in BC:
A GVRD case study

This project will develop an urban heat-vulnerability index to help B.C. municipalities and health authorities better prepare and adapt to the increased frequency, severity and duration of extreme heat events experienced as a result of climate change. The research will focus on the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) but will be applicable to other coastal cities in B.C. Using satellite images and local weather-station readings to map temperatures during extreme heat events, the project will combine temperature maps with building, socio-economic and demographic information as well as data on heat-related health problems. Expected project outcomes include enhanced management of heat emergencies, heat-focused protocols for urban planning, reduced heat-related morbidity and mortality, prevention of large-scale climate sensitive-diseases and improved building design to reduce climate change impacts.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

<p><a href="/content/sfu/sfunews/comment_guidelines.html?keepThis=true&amp;TB_iframe=true&amp;height=700&amp;width=700" class="thickbox">Comment Guidelines</a><br>