A component of UBC’s industry engagement practices going forward is the concept of the campus as a living lab. Elements of the UBC campus, such as combined work-living spaces and the level of control UBC has of its own utilities, allow for the effective implementation and monitoring of new technologies.
This environment allows UBC to transform itself into a living laboratory, combining the talent of its researchers and the knowledge of its operators with the expertise of some of the world’s most innovative companies – many based in BC. In doing so, it provides new research and educational opportunities for UBC students and faculty to work with industry partners to develop and test solutions in a real-world environment.
This theme is well represented in the work of the UBC Sustainability Initiative, a strategic management group tasked with uniting the University's operational and academic efforts in sustainability. The USI has been a key player in UBC's Campus as a Living Lab projects, and has established the Research and Partnerships Office to support future research projects that will help UBC attain its aggressive sustainability goals.
Designated Living Lab projects combine campus operations and administration (e.g. energy and water management, land use and ecosystem management, buildings and infrastructure, planning) with the education, research and outreach mandates of the university. Current projects at UBC include:
- The UBC Bioeneregy Research and Demonstration Project
- The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability
In addition to supporting these large scale living lab projects, the UILO is also proactively involved in developing smaller-scale research projects that similarly utilize the ability to test the impact and implementation of new technologies in real-time with the UBC campus community.
Examples of such projects include: