Opportunity Projects Program
Do you have a climate solutions idea that’s never been tested before? The PICS Opportunity Projects Program advances new entrants and unleashes emerging leaders with innovative research ideas and approaches for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Solutions can emerge from unexpected places, in forms not yet imagined. The targeted and relatively short-term projects under this program will encourage researchers to take bold, but calculated, risks in pursuit of high-impact results. When coupled with solution-seeking partners who are eager to implement the tools of change, this program aims to produce impactful results.
Opportunity Projects require three kinds of contributing partners:
- Solution Seekers may be based in the private sector, governmental or non-governmental organizations. They bring practical, domain knowledge and experience, and play a key role in identifying and framing the problem, developing solutions, and ultimately implementing the results.
- Research Partners bring theoretical knowledge and experience, research skills and academic excellence to the project to help generate and transform novel ideas to produce new knowledge and social, technical and institutional innovations.
- The PICS Partner is a convenor and knowledge broker that works to ensure that the project is innovative and impactful. PICS provides financial, engagement and communication support aimed at bridge-building between engaged research and evidence-based practice.
- Each award is capped at $60,000 per year, for a maximum three-year duration
- There is no restriction on the number or location of researchers, but proposals should be relevant to BC and include participation of BC researchers.
- At least half of project costs must be allocated to salaries of graduate students and postdocs at one of PICS’ research universities.
- Applications must be submitted by the project's Principle Investigator, who must be a full-time faculty member at one of the four PICS universities (Research Partner).
- There is a total program allocation of up to $600,000 annually.
For information about PICS Theme Partnerships visit our Research Engagement page.
Opportunity Projects already underway
Four Opportunity Projects have been awarded funding from the 2018 call for proposals. These projects address either climate change mitigation and/or adaptation, specifically—thermal energy storage; adaptive management of coastal kelp and fisheries by First Nations; designing a multi-family residential buildings framework that incorporates climate mitigation and adaptation needs, and developing an open-access, climate-adapted planning tool for conservation land and protected areas. Detailed descriptions below:
Integration of Mobile Thermal Storage in City of Surrey’s District Energy Network. Project lead: Majid Bahrami, SFU
District energy networks can play a central role in reducing building-related emissions due to their high efficiency and the flexibility they offer for integrating energy from renewable sources. The building sector is a major contributor to GHG emissions in Canada and worldwide. In collaboration with the City of Surrey and Canmet ENERGY, this project aims to develop a novel modular (scalable) thermochemical-based mobile thermal energy storage (M-TES). The proposed system will be capable of capturing waste heat from distributed, non-connected sources and moving this heat to connect into a district energy system. The heat stored in the M-TES can be used for load shaping and to offset requirements for generating peak power from non-renewable sources. The resulting benefits from this project include a reduced reliance on non-renewable fuels for peak loads, reduced carbon emissions and lower operating costs. The project will serve as an example for sustainable energy initiatives in other municipalities in BC and beyond.
Climate Adaptive Planning for British Columbia. Project lead: Oscar Venter, UNBC
There is currently no planning tool available that takes into account future climate change when establishing protected areas in British Columbia (BC) and projecting impacts on natural systems. This project, in partnership with The Nature Trust, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the BC Parks Foundation, will address the core question: How can we adapt our conservation plans in BC to minimize the impacts of a changing climate? The first online, open-access, fully operable and user-friendly tool will be developed to support climate–adapted systematic conservation planning across BC. This tool will be accessible and flexible for diverse user groups, as well as updatable with future enhancements in understanding climate change in BC.
Designing solutions to the hidden impacts of climate change on Canada’s undersea forests. Project lead: Anne Salomon, SFU
In 2015 First Nations communities on central BC’s coast observed an expansive outbreak of an encrusting bryozoan. This outbreak occurred in correlation with extreme ocean temperature anomalies (“warm blob”) in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Giant kelps were heavily encrusted by the bryozoan, causing them to sink to the seafloor where they rapidly disintegrated. This project—in partnership with the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance that encompasses all four First Nations of BC’s central coast (Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo/ Xai’ xais Nation, Nuxalk Nation and the Wuikinuxv Nation)—will determine whether adaptive management of traditional community-based kelp harvest and herring spawn-on-kelp fisheries can minimize the negative impact of temperature-induced bryozoan outbreaks. This project aims to enhance the resilience of both kelp forest ecosystems and coastal communities to climate change.
Adaptive Mitigation: A framework for assessing synergies, conflicts, opportunities and trade-offs between climate change mitigation and adaptation in urban neighbourhoods. Project lead: Stephanie Chang UBC
In partnership with BC Housing, this project will investigate how strategies for adaptation and mitigation in urban neighbourhoods intersect, focusing specifically on multi-family residential buildings and their immediate context, in order to maximize the opportunity for “shelter-in-place”—or safety within the building one occupies. The research goal is to develop an integrated building adaptation and mitigation assessment (IBAMA) framework and tool to help decision-makers identify solutions that simultaneously incorporate both elements. The long-term objective is that the IBAMA framework will influence future building codes, standards, and construction best practices in both British Columbia and abroad.