SFU's Living Lab program applies the university’s leading sustainability and climate research to its own infrastructure and facilities, testing innovative solutions on-site that can then be applied and scaled anywhere in the world. Through experiential and applied research with teams of staff, faculty and graduate students, Living Lab facilitate an innovative new model for sustainability-themed research at SFU.

In the Living Lab program, SFU researchers can pilot and evaluate ideas and innovations on our own campuses; staff can make evidence-based decisions about new projects, and graduate students can contribute to timely applied research.

The Living Lab program uses external funding available to graduate students, awards funding, and relevant SFU staff to test research innovation ideas.

Program criteria

  • Research teams: Each Living Lab research team is made up of one graduate student researcher who will be the research project lead, as well as one faculty member and one staff member in a university operations role. All current SFU graduate students from all faculties are eligible to apply.
  • Thematic focus: SFU’s Living Lab is currently supporting the implementation of SFU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan 2020-2025 (SFU 2025) and its targets.
  • Knowledge Mobilization and Transfer: Living Lab seeks to support projects that actively engage in knowledge mobilization effort. Research teams are asked to develop ways to share their findings with the university operations and practitioners using methods that are feasible and appropriate.
  • All Living Lab projects are required to address EDI and Reconciliation considerations, with action plans developed and implemented throughout the project life cycle.
  • All teams have 12 months to complete the project.


All current SFU graduate students are eligible to apply. Please note that in order to continue to receive funding, your registration at SFU must remain current.

Each Living Lab team will be made up of one graduate student researcher who will be conducting the research with, at minimum, one faculty member and one staff member. The graduate student researcher is expected to be the lead for the project, and as such, the Living Lab funding will go directly to the student.

Living Lab thematic focus

We welcome proposals addressing the following SFU 2025 Targets as key research areas. Project proposal may address multiple targets. 

SFU 2025 Target SFU Department
Target 1: Building and fleet Reduce operational GHG emissions by 50% Facilities
Target 2: Renewable energy Shift 50% of the fossil-fuel based energy to renewables Facilities
Target 3: Transportation Reduce transportation GHG emissions by 10% by 2025 (commuting, campus-to-campus transportation, on campus transportation) Ancillary
Target 4: Procurement and waste Reduce operational waste by 10% despite growth, expansion, and construction Facilities, Ancillary
Target 5 & 6: Food choices and Food waste Increase the amount of plant-based menu items by 50% by 2025; Reduce total food waste by 10% Ancillary

Additionally, we welcome projects from all disciplines that employ a wide range of methods (quantitative, qualitative or mixed) and are designed to implement innovative sustainability solutions. 

For more information on the SFU 2025 targets, view SFU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan 2020-2025 (SFU 2025).


A successful Living Lab Scholar — a graduate student researcher carrying out the Living Lab research — will receive a $10,000 stipend and will be able to access an additional $2,500 to be put towards research costs. Examples of eligible costs include materials and equipment purchase as well as consultations and research assistance that are directly related to the project. The funding is for all projects to be completed within 12 months.

Research Ideas from SFU Staff 

If you are a researcher and would like to meet SFU staff to discuss Living Lab research ideas, please contact Tamara Shulman (tshulman@sfu.ca). 

Research ideas

Research idea Staff Department
"You're not truly recycling until the products you purchase are made from recycled material" Todd Gattinger Facilities
Building insulation/heat loss Dan Cooper Facilities
Building standards: Which one should SFU pursue? Bernard Chan Facilities
Carbon capture for Corix Jaelim Jeon Facilities
Carbon Pricing: $150 a tonne via Metro Vancouver - could SFU have its own internal policy/pricing? Bernard Chan Facilities
Community vibrancy Sid Mehta Ancillary
Corix exploration Todd Gattinger Facilities
Corix: What happens inside that blue box? Gerald Gongos Facilities
Drought tolerant plants Dan Cooper Facilities
Energy studies for campus buildings Bernard Chan Facilities
Feasibility study for a solar project based on data and uses across campus Jaelim Jeon Facilities
Food options on campus (beyond pasta bar and vegan options) Dan Traviss/Simon Tse Ancillary
Goal of 40% EVs for Fleet by 2030: How to achieve this George Venini/Dan Cooper Facilities
Increasing composting compliance via behaviour change/signage Grady Ott/Todd Gattinger Facilities
Fleet electrification: Research into the behavioural economics and business research side David Agosti Ancillary
Mobility on campus David Agosti Facilities
Natural shaded (trees/landscaping) areas inventory/map on campus Dan Cooper Facilities
Onsite composting: What scale is possible at SFU versus trucking off mountain George Venini Facilities
Plant-based options & transition Dan Traviss Ancillary
Public transit needs David Agosti Ancillary
Remote work vs commuting (Environmental impact) Ayumi Orgar Ancillary
Research feasibility for onsite renewable energy Michelle Lin Facilities
Strategic Energy Management Planning (SEMP) Bernard Chan Facilities
Transit prices versus parking/driving prices David Agosti Ancillary
Transitioning back to reusables (Pre-covid) Sid Mehta Ancillary
Transportation data baselining David Agosti Ancillary
Understanding inverted roofs Dan Cooper Facilities
Utilizing sawdust from carpentry for Corix Bernard Chan Facilities
Waste management Dan Cooper Facilities
Waste management of plastics Michelle Lin Facilities