Campus as a Living Lab

Campus as a Living Lab is a program that offers experiential learning opportunities to students, academic staff and support staff. These sustainability-focused living lab projects use the university campus (including grounds, buildings, biodiversity and communities) as a testing ground to develop sustainability solutions and meet sustainability goals. Campus as a Living Lab connects the classroom and the real world, creating opportunities for solution-based teaching, research and experience.

Campus as a Living Lab focuses on these objectives:


Are you an undergrad student interested in doing sustainability research or creating a project to improve sustainability on campus? Campus as a Living Lab provides guidance and funding options for student research and initiatives.

Learn more about funding options under How to Apply.


Are you a university professor or lecturer looking for real-world examples, facilities or data to use in your classes or capstone projects? Do you want to supervise and guide students who are researching sustainability at the university? Campus as a Living Lab can connect you with the data, people, information and funding you need to help you.

Learn more about funding options under How to Apply.


Are you a university staff member with an idea for a sustainability project (like a waste audit or a staff engagement campaign) for students to carry out in your department or building? Campus as a Living Lab will review your idea and promote your project to students and faculty members who can help. Program funding is available to support selected projects.

Learn more about finding options under How to Apply.

Project Criteria

Campus as a Living Lab carefully chooses its projects and participants based on the following criteria:

  • Place-Based. The project aligns with the university's vision for sustainability. It addresses on-campus sustainability challenges that connect to alumni, the city and the province.
  • Shared Responsibility. The project involves people sharing responsibility for its outcome through collaboration and co-learning.
  • Positive Impact. The project addresses a real-world problem, is practical and is measurable.
  • System Thinking. The project builds connections between environmental, social, economic, cultural and political aspects of sustainability.
  • Continuous Improvement. The project can adapt to deliver sustainability impact over time and will remain a high-quality learning experience for all participants.

The project must address at least one of the following outcomes:

  • Outreach & Engagement. Sharing knowledge, expertise, best practices and lessons learned so all members of the University and the local and global community has the knowledge and tools needed to promote a culture of sustainability.
  • Teaching. Building opportunities for engaging and educating students, faculty and staff so that everyone has the opportunity to participate in formal learning about sustainability.
  • Research. Supporting innovative research and inquiry that improves understanding related to sustainability, leading to real-world solutions and problem-solving.
  • Facilities & Operations. Developing strategies and objectives that conserve resources, decrease the production of waste, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, minimize ecological footprints, and build sustainable supply chains.

Examples of projects

View current projects and ideas

In addition Facilities and Operations has data sets on campus utilities (including water, electricity, natural gas). Data is available on request for student and faculty-lead projects. Please email Energy Management & Sustainable Operations to learn more.

How to apply

Students and faculty are eligible to apply. Getting started is easy:

  1. Review past projects
  2. Identify a project that interests you that is connected to campus sustainability
  3. Select a program that best fits your needs
  4. Submit your proposal

Programs to choose from (Sept. 2018)

Undergraduate Research Initiative

This program supports the involvement of University of Alberta undergraduate students in research activities. Several research stipends focusing on the Living Lab are available each year. URI offers individual consultations with students to explore their interests and needs.

Apply to URI

Community Service-Learning

This program integrates service-learning into existing courses in diverse subjects and disciplines. Students are paired with campus and community partners where they contribute in real ways to the organizations and gain valuable working experience. Students and faculty can integrate sustainability into this learning experience with the collaboration of the partner organizations.

Additional project funding may be available through Green Grants and the Sustainability Enhancement Fund.

Apply to CSL