Orchard Commons at UBC

Our approach

UBC's Campus as a Living Lab (CLL) provides a collaborative framework for faculty, staff, students and partners to address urgent global sustainability challenges. We seek to increase UBC’s collective impact by scaling up projects, enhancing knowledge exchange, and catalyzing effective policy influence and action as an agent of change.

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Managed by the Sustainability Hub, CLL supports integration and collaboration among people from different disciplines across the university, along with local, regional and global partners, and enables the sharing of knowledge and experiences. CLL uses campus infrastructure, assets and resources to support applied research projects that have an operational benefit for the university, advance faculty research agendas, and create opportunities for student learning and knowledge exchanges.


We aspire to be a globally-impactful hub for living lab research, demonstration, learning and knowledge exchange that helps address the world’s most urgent sustainability challenges.


As a leading public research university, we have a commitment and responsibility to leverage our academic and operational capabilities to respond to global problems through our local context.


We provide a collaborative framework for researchers, students, operations staff and external partners to leverage the campus to explore, develop and test new ideas, and to share the knowledge gained from these experiences.

Our values

Our work is guided by a set of core values, in addition to the values laid out in UBC’s Strategic Plan, Shaping the Next Century. 

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1. Sustainability

We support and develop projects that contribute to ecological, social and economic sustainability, address the climate and biodiversity crises, and are aligned with the long-term strategic vision for the UBC campus and its community. 

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2. Equity and Inclusion

We embed justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in all our projects and in our engagement with UBC community members and external partners.

3. Transparency

We build collaborations and partnerships through clear and open processes, and ensuring fair, ethical, consensual and transparent engagement.

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4. Collaborative Learning

We embrace participatory and reciprocal ways of learning and sharing knowledge, reflective of the different communities, knowledge systems and experiences of those engaged in our projects. 


History: The evolution of Campus as a Living Lab

Campus as a Living Lab has been an approach to innovation and applied research at the UBC since the early 2000's. For over 20 years, living lab projects have taken on a variety of forms, from large capital projects that demonstrate first-of-a kind ideas, to research-industry partnerships that pilot innovative technologies, to the integration of student learning with operational priorities.

Today there are many units and programs across the university that engage in living lab style research and activities. For example, the UBC Farm supports a number of living lab projects on biodiversity and agricultural innovations, and our biomass energy plant houses the Biorefining Research and Innovation Centre.

Recently, in response to the increasing urgency of global sustainability crises and UBC’s Strategic Plan and Climate Emergency Declaration, we are revitalizing and restructuring Campus as a Living Lab as a mechanism to more effectively leverage university expertise and resources to address these complex challenges.

The renewed CLL program is managed by the Urban Innovation Research team within UBC’s Sustainability Hub. We are building on our experiences with high-profile CLL projects, such as Brock Commons Tallwood House, to develop new programs and resources to advance and expand living lab projects and collaborations across UBC academics and operations, and to share experiences and learning beyond the confines of our campus. Our goal is to increase the real-world impact of diverse living lab projects, accelerating progress in sustainability policies and practices locally, regionally and globally.

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Have an idea to advance sustainability? Looking for an opportunity to get involved?