Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS)

PICS works in collaboration with UBC and other universities to address the multi-faceted climate change challenges in BC and around the world.

Image courtesy of elementslab

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) was established as an endowment from the BC Ministry of Environment in 2008 to develop a multidisciplinary research institute focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions. PICS is hosted and led out of the University of Victoria in partnership with UBC, as well as Simon Fraser University and the University of Northern British Columbia.

PICS current research portfolio consists of five major interdisciplinary research projects, including Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment, Transportation Futures, Low-Carbon Pathways to 2060, Natural Gas Development and Forest Carbon Management. Two of these “big five” projects, as they are referred to by PICS, are being led by principal investigators at UBC. Ron Kellett, Director of School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture is the research lead for the PICS built environment project, while Walter Merida is leading the PICS transportation futures group. In addition, the Forest Carbon Management project has a core research policy and stakeholder engagement team at UBC led by Professor George Hoberg.

Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment

The Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment (EEBE) project seeks to develop solutions for reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia’s diverse built environment, while at the same time improving quality of life. The research program is focused on finding the most effective combinations of solutions and best-supporting policies, to ensure policy to practice including on-the-ground implementation. The program is divided into two inter-related streams:

  • Policy and Finance Stream which examines the effectiveness of financing mechanisms and policy instruments to improve both new and existing buildings and communities
  • Buildings and Community Stream which explores the potential benefits of design and policy approaches, evolving rating systems and building codes, as well as integrated, community-scale energy strategies, to improve building performance, and reduce energy demand and emissions

Transportation Futures

The Transportation Futures project aims to tackle the problem of GHG emissions produced by the transportation sector by identifying viable pathways for developing low-or-zero emission transportation systems for British Columbia, focusing on technology alternatives such as battery, hydrogen fuel cell, and natural gas. The initiatives of the research project include the design of refuelling configurations, developing models to assess market, social and policy opportunities, as well as providing interdisciplinary training for highly qualified personnel in the sustainable transportation field. The three inter-related themes for this program are:

  • Integrated social, economic and technical analysis of the transportation market and public policy to evaluate the potential of a range of vehicle technologies to reduce GHG emissions
  • Low-or-zero carbon transportation infrastructures for natural gas, electricity, and hydrogen
  • Transport mode electrification and analysis of prospects for GHG reductions