Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 60.39
Liaison Christina Olsen
Submission Date March 30, 2021

STARS v2.2

British Columbia Institute of Technology
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:

BCIT strives to be at the forefront of changing technology and the state-of-practice relevant to the success and competitiveness of the employer community. Student research activities are a key component. BCIT is committed to developing student competencies in research activities, including sourcing and assessing potential research projects, conducting research activities in an ethical manner, respecting BCIT practices that define research projects, working collaboratively with faculty, outside organizations, and other students in research teams, and presenting the results of research in a professional manner.

BCIT’s Student Innovation Challenge is an annual contest aimed at providing support, encouragement and funding to BCIT students who have “bright ideas”. Since its founding, the Student Innovation Challenge has inspired interesting and innovative students and projects. Multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged. The Challenge has 2 Categories:
1. Applied Research (Innovative project solving a real world problem)
2. Entrepreneurship (Innovative ideas, entrepreneurship, and commercial products)
Cash prizes in each category are 1st Prize – $5,000, 2nd Prize – $1,500, 3rd Prize – $500 with the Sustainability Award providing an opportunity to win $1,000 for the most sustainable idea/project in each category. https://www.bcit.ca/applied-research/students/innovate/

The School of Construction and Environment (SOCE) organizes a 2 Day Challenge event each spring. This event is designed to encourage collaboration between programs within SOCE and to provide participants with a real-world problem to solve. For students, this experience challenges their ability to be creative, innovative, resourceful and efficient. Students have just 48 hours to identify the elements of a problem, design a plan for collecting the information they need to build their solution, complete their field work and design a presentation for their peers and industry judges. Individuals on the winning team will receive a cash prize that is the equivalent to two days salary for a junior consultant. 2019 winners had registration for the Ecocity World Summit included in their prize. Past challenges include:
• Re-envisioning the Burnaby South Campus to reflect the Ecocity Standards of sustainable city development. Teams had to reflect on what they would like to see for the future of BCIT, while taking into consideration the BCIT campus plan and Indigenous teachings.
• Developing a conceptual design and plan for the proposed Center for Ecological Restoration & Climate Adaptation (CERCA) for the Burnaby Campus. CERCA is a new building that is proposed as part of BCIT’s 5-Year-Capital Plan and will feature a space to support Indigenous Learners in the field Environmental Stewardship and other related disciplines. The construction of this building will be paired with daylighting a segment of Guichon Creek, which runs below ground in a culvert along the west side of the proposed site.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) provides Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) to students in natural sciences and engineering. NSERC is the Canadian federal research funding agency mandated to promote and support postsecondary-based research and training in the natural sciences and engineering. Research priority areas include Environmental Science and Natural Resources. These awards provide students with financial support of $6,000 for a full 16-week period. BCIT supplements the amount of the award by at least 25% of its value.

Does the institution have a program to encourage academic staff from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:

Unlike research-intensive universities, BCIT’s role in research is characterized by our direct interaction with industry as providers of innovation and solutions for current and emerging industry problems and our deep commitment to developing learners that can supply the needs of industry. Our strategic research objective is to continue along that path while increasing and enhancing student participation in research and enhancing the role of interdisciplinary research groups within BCIT’s educational programs.
This two-fold approach can only be accomplished by growing on the existing success of both research and education at BCIT, by combining the strengths of both areas and by fostering an environment that is beneficial to researchers, faculty, students, staff and industry.

The School of Construction & the Environment (SOCE) offers applied research funding through its Advancing Green Value Strategies in Development Endowment. The intention of this endowment is to support applied research to advance the state of practice in sustainable development: concerned with the natural environment, the built environment and the relationship between them. The fund is a $1.2 million dollar endowment including generous donations by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and BC Housing. Funds can be used to initiate, leverage or augment a research project. Interdisciplinary research led by a SOCE faculty/researcher is encouraged. Projects should promote green value in development and “will include” but are not limited to a range of criteria including:
1. educating environmental stewardship practitioners;
2. influencing stakeholders through applied research, partnerships, and demonstrations;
3. creating community models to generate dialogue, innovation, collaboration and technology transfer;
4. sharing insights about greening the development industry – where economic efficiency and green development/land use decisions intersect;
5. influencing standards of practice and public policy (e.g. pertaining to: green roofs, ecological restoration, energy systems applications, GIS/Geomatics, climate change, civil engineering, sustainable infrastructure management).

Projects should further promote green value in development by responding to one of the themes articulated in the SOCE’s Sustainability Framework (https://www.bcit.ca/construction-environment/about-the-school/sustainability/).

For example, a cross-school collaborative research project on the use of a sustainable filtration material called biochar was recently funded. The goal of the project was to determine if biochar can remove chemical contaminants from stormwater to improve water quality in creeks and rivers. The long term goal of this project is to incorporate biochar into green infrastructures like rain gardens which can be installed on BCIT Burnaby Campus to improve the water quality in Guichon Creek. This multi-phase research project involves faculty and students from SoCE’s Civil Engineering and Ecological Restoration programs, School of Energy’s Chemical and Environmental Technology program, and the School of Computing and Academic Studies’ Chemistry program.


The Institute Research Funds (IRF) allow BCIT employees to pursue research initiatives for which they are unable to obtain funding from other sources or allow researchers to leverage institute funds to obtain research funding from external agencies and partners that they would otherwise be unable to access. IRF funding can be used to fund partial release time for researchers and students assisting with their projects. Projects are frequently collaborative, across BCIT Schools and departments and with external partners. For example, SOCE faculty Dr. Rodrigo Mora, Dr. Olga Petrov and Dr. Eric Saczuk received $25,000 for the first year of the project “Urban Microclimatic Factors Conducive to Urban Heat Island and Air Pollution: A Pilot Study at the BCIT Burnaby Campus.”


Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:

The BCIT Library has several customized guides for online library research focused on sustainability. There are general guides covering the subject areas of sustainability, the BCIT seed library and Indigenous resources. There are also program specific guides for students in the Ecological Restoration, Fish & Wildlife/Forest Management, Sustainable Business Leadership and Sustainable Energy Management. These guides can be found at: https://libguides.bcit.ca/.

The Library subscribes to most major databases and journal collections focused on sustainability, including AGRICOLA, ENVIROnetBASE, JSTOR and WaterNetBase. Access to these materials is through the list of Databases found at: https://libguides.bcit.ca/az.php.

The Library and Learning & Teaching Centre also offers scholarship and research support through the Food for Thought series of lunch and learns and have offered scholarly publishing talks and workshops for BCIT academic staff.

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.