Living Lab

COVID-19 Acknowledgement

SFU acknowledges that the Living Lab is launching during a global pandemic. It is important for graduate students and faculty researchers to consider how their proposed Living Lab project can be completed while adhering to COVID-19 safety and health protocols. Please visit the links below to learn about the latest COVID-19 updates as it pertains to research and on-campus activity:

What is the Living Lab?

The Living Lab facilitates sustainability-themed research at SFU by creating structured collaborations between staff, faculty and graduate students. The program aims to provide opportunities for applied research and experiential learning that improve the sustainability of SFU's three campus communities where we study, work and live. SFU’s Living Lab launches in the fall 2020 semester.

Living Lab research areas

During the pilot year (2020-2021), Living Lab research projects will be focused on the following four research areas:

  • Building and fleet emissions: reducing SFU’s operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Renewable energy on campus: research solutions to shift SFU’s energy sources to renewables
  • Transportation emissions: reducing SFU’s transportation GHG emissions
  • Procurement and waste: reducing operational waste

These areas were chosen as they are the most active targets in the SFU 2025 Sustainability Plan. This plan provides the foundation for SFU’s sustainability and climate action efforts. To ensure Living Lab research projects are given mobilization and support, proposals are encouraged to explore topics within these areas. Proposals that consider the interconnection between climate mitigation and climate adaptation within these three areas are also encouraged.

Research Ideas from SFU Staff 

If you are a researcher and would like to meet the SFU staff to discuss further on any of these research ideas, please contact them directly or contact the Sustainability Office ( to set up a meeting.

(Updated October 14, 2020)

1. Cutlery on Campus (PLA vs wood vs metal)
[SFU 2025 Target #4 Procurement and waste]

Research questions:

  • What is the future and what are the best practices for making it sustainable (environmental and financial)?
  • What are the long and short term benefits compared to using Single Use Plastics?
  • Can wood or bamboo cutlery meet the user needs that PLA or metal cutlery designs can achieve?
  • Do the loss rates of reusable cutlery leave a great impact the carbon footprint versus single-use PLA or wood items?
  • What financial model should be considered to ensure longterm viability is achieved?

Staff: Dan Traviss and Simon Tse, Ancillary Services - SFU Food

2. Transportation
[SFU 2025 Target #3 Transportation]

Research topics:

  • EV charging stations
  • EV fleet & affordability of EV cars
  • Micromobility on campus
  • Cyclist safety & infrastructure and promotion cycling

Staff: Parking & Sustainable Mobility

3. Digital Hoarding
[SFU 2025 Target #4 Procurement and waste]

Research topic/question: Digital hoarding — how much of the electronic materials stored in SFU's servers are no longer in need and how is digital hoarding hindering SFU from meeting its sustainability targets?

Staff: Sandeep Sidhu, IT Services

How it works



Graduate students and faculty submit their Living Lab research proposal

November 13th, 2020

SFU’s Living Lab Advisory Committee review research proposals

November, 2020

Living Lab Scholars with successful research proposals are notified

Early December 2020

Living Lab Scholars receive their funding (maximum of $12,500 per research project)

First week of January 2021

Research projects start

January 2021

Research proposal requirements

The deadline to submit has now passed. Stay tuned for an announcement regarding applications for Round 2, in 2021. 

For Round 1:
Applications needed to include the following documents and meet the selection criteria to be considered for approval and funding. Detailed information can be found in the Call for Proposal:

  • Living Lab application form
  • Living Lab application checklist
  • Letter of intent (maximum 3 pages) which include the following:
    • How your research project can support SFU advance the climate action targets under the SFU 2025 Sustainability Plan;
    • How your project interacts with justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion issues (directly and indirectly) and how you plan to address them through the project goals and objectives
    • A brief project plan with a monthly timeline (the project should be completed over the course of 12 months); and
    • How you will communicate your findings with the academic community and practitioners: be as specific as you can and indicate which of the following is applicable: journal articles, operational guideline, public events, blog post, conference, etc).
  • Support letter from faculty supervisor
  • Student’s curriculum vitae

To get the complete details on the Living Lab's current call for proposals, click on the button below

How to submit research proposals

The deadline to submit has now passed. Stay tuned for an announcement regarding applications for Round 2.

For an example of what was requested during Round 1:

Application Form                           Application Checklist

Why participate in SFU’s Living Lab?

A Living Lab project team will consist of SFU faculty, staff and graduate students, and work on a sustainability challenge facing our campus.

For Graduate Students

Living Lab gives opportunities for graduate students to work on research projects right here on campus, developed by the SFU faculty and staff. Graduate students will be able to access research funding and networking opportunities. Each graduate student researcher will receive $10,000 stipend and have access to $2,500 to cover research-related costs.


For Faculty

The Living Lab creates campus-based research opportunities where faculty members can apply their expertise to University projects and use these projects as sites for research study


For Staff

The Living Lab provides valuable connections to leading sustainability experts and opportunities to pilot solutions and make operational improvements to help meet institutional sustainability targets. The Living Lab can uncover meaningful opportunities to pilot solutions to your operational challenges.

Living Lab Advisory Committee Members

  • Zafar Adeel (Professor of Professional Practice, School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM))
  • Lupin Battersby (Knowledge Mobilization Officer)
  • Stephanie Bertels (Associate Professor, Beedie School of Business)
  • Nastenka Calle Delgado (SFU Program Manager, PICS)
  • John Clague (Professor Emeritus, Department of Earth Sciences)
  • Maya Gislason (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences)

Please note that committee members are allowed to submit proposals and will be asked to recuse themselves from the evaluation of their proposals

  • Shane Gunster (Associate Professor, School of Communication)
  • Anil Hira (Professor, Department of Political Science)
  • Sid Mehta (Senior Director, Ancillary Services)
  • Shaheen Nanji (Acting Executive Director, SFU International)
  • Taco Niet (Assistant Progessor of Professional Practice, School of Sustainable Energy Engineering)
  • Cindy Xin (Director of Research, Faculty of Education)
  • David Zandvliet (Professor, Faculty of Education)

SFU Sustainability Office

The SFU Sustainability Office is the university’s central unit supporting, developing and implementing institution-wide sustainability plans, policies, project and initiatives. The Sustainability Office also provides best practices services to scale student, faculty, and staff sustainability initiatives across all portfolios, units, and departments.

Office of the Vice-President, Research and International

SFU’s Office of the Vice-President, Research and International (VPRI Office) serves to encourage, facilitate, administer and promote research at SFU; advocate for university research generally; and guide policy development at university and government levels. Led by the VPRI Office, SFU’s 2016-2020 Strategic Research Plan positions the university to continue to grow its capacity in research and knowledge mobilization across diverse sectors. SFU has an international footprint of partnerships with 2947 institutions worldwide, in 125 countries.

Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) is a research and engagement network oriented toward delivering high-impact climate solutions that are actively applied by decision-makers.  PICS shares a global vision of net-negative greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century alongside all communities adapting to a changing climate. PICS is hosted and led by the University of Victoria in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Northern British Columbia. 


SFU's Living Lab is funded in part by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.