Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 60.39
Liaison Christine Pinkham
Submission Date March 30, 2021

STARS v2.2

British Columbia Institute of Technology
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:

The term “Living Lab” was used first at BCIT in 1997 through a collaborative research initiative with Simon Fraser University (SFU) aimed at improving the relationship between people and their living and working environments. BCIT has been using our campuses as living labs of sustainability since 2006 when the Living Lab was identified as a strategic initiative for campus planning, to be incorporated into the Institute’s Campus Master Plan. In 2007, BCIT’s Administrative Services Department signed an MOU with BCIT’s School of Construction and the Environment to collaborate on transforming BCIT’s campuses into “living labs of sustainability.” This agreement was amended in 2008 to add Information and Technology Services Department as well. The Living Lab initiative is a pan-institutional, collaborative approach to hands-on learning that uses the campus as a vehicle to engage the community of students, faculty and staff in solving real-world challenges. At BCIT, Living Labs:
• foster skills development through access to campus infrastructure and information,
• demonstrate leading edge technologies and equipment, and
• present opportunities to conceptualize, design and implement solutions that advance the state of practice.

Link Magazine is a hub for student ideas and culture at BCIT. Published in print and online, their content is produced by a team of student editors and contributors across BCIT’s 5 campuses. Link magazines are printed 8 times annually and distributed for free at all campuses and other community events. They publish stories about inspiring and influential students at BCIT, plus essays and features on just about any topic that connects readers to the world around them - from games and gadgets, to the environment, politics and pop culture. It provides Broadcast and Media Communications students the opportunity to learn and gain experience in print and web media. The magazine puts out themed issues with April highlighting sustainability and activism. https://issuu.com/linkbcit/docs/april_2020/12

Evolution 107.9 is a non-commercial, educational, campus radio station licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to BCIT. Evolution 107.9 serves as a training ground for Radio Arts & Entertainment and Broadcast & Online Journalism students wishing to pursue a professional career or a vocational activity in the media industry. Through interactive class lectures and labs, students gain expertise as a writers, producers, reporters, anchors, video journalists, and more. The station also operates as a public service to BCIT, Burnaby and Metro Vancouver audiences, offering programming in “the public interest” and information about various BCIT campus events and issues. Evolution 107.9 is committed to soliciting and providing access in a non-discriminatory, progressive fashion to those traditionally underrepresented in the media. This includes, but is not limited to, women, cultural, ethnic and racial minorities, people of various sexual orientations, seniors, youth, children and the disabled. https://commons.bcit.ca/evolution1079/about/

The Sustainability Office hired a Broadcast and Media Communications student for the winter term in 2021 to write sustainability stories about BCIT that will used to engage the campus community throughout 2021.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:

CityStudio Vancouver was founded in 2011 to accelerate sustainability in higher education and provide students with direct opportunities to work in and with the City of Vancouver on urban challenges. BCIT is a key academic partner, supporter and funder and as of fall 2020 had involved 1,112 students and 55 faculty working on a total of 185 projects. The majority of these projects utilized the local community as a living laboratory to advance sustainability. Each term BCIT matches a number of CityStudio projects with BCIT courses and students. Examples projects from the last three years include:
• Be Smart with Sharps – a safe sharp disposal and education project. Guided by the City of Vancouver's Healthy City Strategy, BCIT Business and Nursing students were asked to explore the issue of discarded sharps in public spaces, and provide recommendations for an effective Safe Sharp Disposal education campaign.
• Restoration Plan for Everett Crowley Park (ECP). The City of Vancouver (CoV) has conducted restoration activities throughout ECP to re-establish a coastal forest ecosystem. One restored area exhibited dieback after trees were planted. To address this, Ecological Restoration students developed an experimental design to compare CoV’s usual restoration prescription versus an alternative prescription, one that will initiate the successional trajectory of a coastal forest consisting of a community of plant species suited to the future environmental conditions based on projected climatic changes for the region.

For more information on these and other CityStudio projects please go to: https://citystudiovancouver.com/schools/bcit/

The Energy OASIS (Open Access to Sustainable Intermittent Sources) project demonstrates solutions that could be employed to help reduce the impact of fast-charging on the electric grid. The Energy OASIS project integrates photovoltaic panels and Li-Ion energy storage for a Level-3 fast charge electric vehicle charge station within BCIT’s Smart Microgrid system.

Energy OASIS addresses the intermittent nature of the renewable sources of energy used for EV charging through an “energy firming-up path” using Energy Storage and an Advanced Energy Management System (EMS). The Energy OASIS facility is comprised of: a 250 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) parking canopy paired with a 500 kWhr lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS); two DC Fast Charge (DCFC) EV charge stations; six Level 2 EV charge stations; and an advanced energy management system (EMS). The EMS predicts electrical generation based on weather forecasts, and EV charge profiles based on historical trends and EV charge reservations. The system can “island” itself from the electrical grid, for example in times of grid blackout, and continue to deliver electricity and charge EVs with either generated or stored energy. These charging stations and others located by NE3 have interpretive signage and are open to the public to use for charging their vehicles.

https://www.bcit.ca/applied-research/smart-microgrid/projects/energy-oasis/


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:

The Emission Reduction and Research Test Hub (ERRTH) is located on the Annacis Island campus. As an applied research facility, and one of only a few of its kind, ERRTH provides critical data needed to develop new technologies that reduce engine emissions from vehicles of all kinds. It is the home of the only Portable Emissions Measurement System on the West Coast. ERRTH tests and measures exhaust gas emissions for all modes of transportation and fuel types. Students are engaged in the research and benefit from the hands-on learning.

Students in the Electrical Engineering program at BCIT benefit from direct access to BCIT's own solar panel installations to train in renewable energy technology and solar PV management/maintenance.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:

The North Campus Infrastructure Project (NCIP) originated with the need to replace a major power receiving substation for the Burnaby campus. Civil Engineering students were allocated a portion of the project and prepared construction execution plans, cost estimates and scheduling for their assigned portions. The North Campus Infrastructure Project’s holistic approach and expanded scope led to improvements that include: climate adaptation elements, enhanced outdoor gathering spaces, additional bike lanes and pedestrian greenways, as well as support for increased energy conservation and resilience through BCIT’s collaboration with BC Hydro to design and construct Canada’s first Smart Power Microgrid. As a result of this initiative, BCIT became Canada’s first education-sector recipient of the Envision Gold award for sustainable infrastructure. More information can be found at the following link and in PRE-2. https://www.bcit.ca/facilities/project-services/completed-projects/north-campus-project/

The Centre for Architectural Ecology has built a research base on the Burnaby campus, the Elevated Lab, which is used to educate and train students and the next generation of local professionals in leading-edge green roof, living wall, and green façade technologies. These different systems have many direct impacts on the environment and community, such as limiting stormwater runoff, insulating and protecting buildings, reducing noise pollution, limiting energy consumption, cleaning the air and introducing greater biodiversity into the urban cores. Over 200 BCIT students aided in the construction of the Lab. An article written by Sean Murphy, a student in Broadcast & Online Journalism provides a good overview: https://www.linkbcit.ca/raising-the-roof/
https://commons.bcit.ca/greenroof/

The Facilities and Campus Development team routinely provides detailed data about building systems and engineering services to students across diverse programs including Building Sciences, Engineering, and Ecological Restoration, for the purposes of using up-to-date campus data that students can then utilize in their programs. Future building projects are also incorporating student engagement into their processes, through exposing internal building 'guts' with (for example) windows to enable students to see mechanical systems, in addition to deeper engagement to identify ways that programs can be engaged in the design process. These types of windows are located on several buildings across the Burnaby campus.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:

The BCIT Energy Team built an interactive tool to monitor real-time energy use of buildings across BCIT campuses. The BCIT Energy Dashboard is a visualization of energy use and provides insight to help improve the energy efficiency and sustainability goals at BCIT. The dashboard not only helps with internal greenhouse gas reduction efforts, but it also facilitates student and staff engagement in energy management. Real-time metering marks an important achievement for transforming BCIT campuses into living labs of sustainability. https://engagementdashboard.com/bcit/bcit

BCIT is actively engaged in energy research, using the campus as a living lab of sustainability. A few of our notable energy projects that engage students include:
• Smart Micro-Grid: https://www.bcit.ca/applied-research/smart-microgrid/
• Energy OASIS: https://www.bcit.ca/applied-research/smart-microgrid/projects/energy-oasis/
• Factor Four: https://commons.bcit.ca/factorfour/
• Spartan Controls Centre for Energy Education and Research: https://www.bcit.ca/energy/research/spartan-controls-centre-for-energy-education-research/

BCIT has Energy Management and Building Science programs, in which Facilities Services provides read-only access to the BCIT building automation and energy metering software to allow students to view how the campus buildings are operating in real time. Both programs continue to use BCIT buildings as case studies to perform energy audits and studies, while working with the institutions operations team to implement recommendations that come from student projects. Building drawings, as well as electrical and mechanical schematics for some buildings and a suite of related teaching resources are also available on the Factor Four web pages.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:

BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG) addresses issues of product quality, process improvement and human health using basic and applied science along with state of the art technology. Their goal is to ensure that all Canadians can achieve the potential health and economic benefits offered by medicinal plants, natural health products and the food industry. Food Technology Students are required to complete an industry project during their final term of study. NRG researchers help supervise students throughout this process in the research lab when projects require the use of advanced analytical equipment and methodology.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:

The Burnaby campus is the largest campus at 130.7 acres. It has a network of approximately 54 buildings located on the north end of campus. The south end of campus has a forested area with second growth trees and other vegetation characteristic of its Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone (CWHdm). The campus is situated in the Brunette River watershed and Guichon Creek runs from the south forest to the north end of campus. The campus grounds are regularly utilized for experiential student learning.

For example, students from our Forest and Natural Areas Management (FNAM) and Fish, Wildlife and Recreation (FWR) programs sampled soils in the Factor Four area at the north end of campus and compared them to soils taken from the south campus forest. Healthy soils are important indicators of ecological health. They contribute to air quality, storm water management, water quality and plant growth. Eighteen sights were samples and analyzed for 11 variables. It was found that the soils in the two areas didn’t differ greatly in terms of the 11 variables. However the soil in the Factor Four area is substantially more compact and may limit root expansion.

In September 2020, students from the School of Construction and the Environment’s Ecological Restoration, Forest and Natural Areas Management, and Fish, Wildlife and Recreation programs worked together in collaboration with staff to build a small wetland at the south end of the Burnaby campus near Guichon Creek. They excavated and reshaped the area of the basin of the wetland, planted wetland plants, added bat and bird houses, making it closer to what the original habitat function was.

The Facilities department will build a proposed wooden walkway in summer 2021. Students will collaborate on educational signage to engage the BCIT community and its neighbours. The students who built the wetland, and others, will be able to continue to use the area as a living lab, observing it develop and thrive in the years to come.

More information on the project and how they provided students hands-on experience in a COVID-19 compliant way can be found in the article and video at the link: https://commons.bcit.ca/news/2020/11/south-wetland-restoration-project/

Ecological Restoration students conduct capstone projects in their final year. For this, several teams of students have developed restoration plans for sites on the BCIT Burnaby campus. These plans have helped BCIT understand current conditions, and have provided recommendations for enhancing ecological values.

Survey students have installed markers on buildings and various structures across campus to enable a stable testing area to verify and train on surveying techniques.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:

The Sustainability Office and Corporate Services Department collaborate with a student team on a Capstone Project that investigated different possible food service ware options for facilities. The project largely included research on sustainable single-use and reusable service ware. The goal of this report was to aid BCIT Food Services, Operations, and the Sustainability Office in making an informed decision regarding their procurement practices based on an analysis of financial, environmental, and operational considerations. In order to gather this information, the student team conducted secondary research, key informant interviews, surveys and observational research. The project provided key insights and recommendations to BCIT.


IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:

The Annacis Island Campus is home to a number of programs from the School of Transportation including heavy duty mechanics with applications in commercial transport, industrial railways and marine environments. A 500-metre long stretch of tracks with locomotives, rail cars and other equipment immerse students in hands-on learning. The Emission Reduction and Research Test Hub (ERRTH), described in “Air & Climate”, gives students the opportunity for hands-on emission testing of all forms of transportation, from cars and trucks to boats and trains.

The Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team (SMART) teamed up with Digital Design and Development program students to design and produce three short animated videos to help illustrate the proper way of good etiquette when charging an electric vehicle. The SMART team as a whole works on research, development, and communication initiatives aimed at innovative solutions for reducing barriers to electric vehicle adoption. The team was awarded the 2021 ECO Canada Community Impact Award for this project.

https://commons.bcit.ca/news/2021/02/bcit-smart-team-wins-eco-canada-community-impact-award/


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:

The Wood-Waste-to-Energy Project, featured in Innovation credit D, was borne out of a concept from BCIT instructors that enables woodworking shops and studios in remote areas, many of them on First Nations reserves, to heat their building while relying less on costly and polluting fossil fuel energy sources. Implementation of this technology at BCIT improves accessibility to the regional woodworking industry, providing a hands-on example to foster broader deployment.

BCIT saw this opportunity as a way to reduce; solid waste disposal, greenhouse gas emissions, and utility costs, as well as engage faculty and students in a hands-on, living-lab piece of working campus infrastructure.

Ensuring only clean, kiln-dried lumber offcuts are used for the fuel stream is a crucial component of the air quality emissions permit. This engages students in the woodworking programs, who sort wood waste and have a hands-on connection to the fuel that heats their working spaces. Faculty and students from the School of Construction and Environment are also using the project for research, determining whether alternative fuels can be safely combusted (e.g. sawdust, alternatives to glued/painted wood), and whether fly ash from the boiler can be used for horticultural purposes on campus instead of going to landfill.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:

During the 1920’s Guichon Creek was still a vibrant part of the ecosystem, and people could catch fish along its banks. From 1930 to 1960 the creek was urbanized and the lower half was culverted. In the 70’s and 80’s restoration work began at the South end of the creek. BCIT, students, the River’s Institute and the City of Burnaby worked to restore the creek.

Guichon Creek transects the east side of BCIT’s Burnaby Campus and is a fish bearing stream at its south end. Near the mid-point on campus, Guichon Creek spills into a large concrete culvert and travels underground through the north-east quadrant of the campus.

BCIT’s Campus Development Plan identifies daylighting the entire length of Guichon Creek as an important objective that supports the Institute’s sustainability goal to become ecologically restored and a functional aquatic ecosystem.

The restoration of the creek also provides a Living Lab opportunity for students in our Fish, Wildlife and Recreation program and our Ecological Restoration program. Students work along the creek to learn and conduct a variety of assessments used in natural resources management. Among other parameters, student assess fish, invertebrates, and water quality. This work helps students deeper understand the interconnectedness of sustainability, and advances sustainability on campus by helping us identify ways of enhancing Guichon Creek.

Hydrological data from the creek has been utilized by Engineering students as a real-world testing site, to supplement classroom activities.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:

Factor Four is a large scale living lab project housed within the School of Construction and Environment. The initiative includes various buildings on the Burnaby campus, composed into the “Factor Four Area”.

BCIT Factor Four aims at a fourfold improvement in resource efficiency – the amount of wealth (services) generated per unit of resource used – within the Factor Four Area. The purpose is to use these buildings to explore whether a fourfold (75%) reduction in materials and energy use can be achieved without compromising service levels (building occupant health and comfort and educational program delivery). Our aim is to adaptively restructure the built environment to create an EcoCity fractal. Since 2009, this initiative has achieved a 50% reduction in energy and greenhouse gas emissions across seven buildings, as well as 80% reductions in individual buildings. Over 250 students from 12 programs have been engaged in over 26 projects.

https://commons.bcit.ca/factorfour/2019/10/04/2019-implementation-update-report/
https://commons.bcit.ca/factorfour/files/2019/10/Implimentation-Report-October-2019.pdf
https://youtu.be/5Em75vlHDdM


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
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Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.