Past Projects

Professional Learning Opportunity: Video gaming for experiential learning based in climate change science and Delta BC planning

Socially and scientifically responsible video games present an enormous opportunity for students to gain experience co-developing exciting new technology. For educators it is a chance to further expand resources available to them while meeting curriculum learning objectives in fun new ways. Revolutionizing the way the people experience interactive content, gaming offers students and instructors a win-win: to have fun conducting inquiry-based learning while engaging with the science of sustainability.

Climate change is a complex challenge which has been historically difficult to explain to a public audience, and even more difficult to respond to effectively. UBC’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) has been working for many years with Delta residents, municipal staff, mayor and council in developing plausible futures; scenarios that describe real places in Delta through the century.

By integrating cutting-edge technology with supporting innovating instruction, we would like to engage students to be environmental stewards. CALP researchers would like to formally present this idea to instructors, demonstrate some of the state of the art augmented reality and emersion technology being used, and discuss how we can work together to development and test a climate change video game to empower lifelong learners to creatively construct their own futures.

A video demonstration of our research is here:


Interactive Web Interface For Sustainable Energy (IWISE)

This project will provide an interactive web-environment to communicate research products completed in the ongoing “Visualizing Urban Futures” project to prepare a Visual Primer on Community Energy. The web interface will broaden and deepen community engagement and social learning on critical issues related to community energy and land-use planning. The interactive web interface will be developed with partners and community members, and will allow users to better understand and explore emerging community energy issues. The project will have the following elements:

a) Content development – to enhance the current Community Energy Primer by expanding coverage of neighbourhood retrofits and district energy systems. Comprising around 25% of the project deliverable, this will provide citizens with easy-to-understand data and visualization examples that are readily applicable to local communities.

b) Web development – an interactive interface incorporating the recently developed data and visuals on community energy in the current Primer (a static pdf file report), presented through a range of interactive communication media (text, graphics, animations, dynamic ‘fly-through’ 3D visualizations, video, etc.) allowing users to choose media to suit their learning preferences and further promote accessibility. Using the new HTML5 and other interactive presentation software, the web version will provide queriable, interactive web-mapping of various regional renewable energy supplies across Metro Vancouver, and allow users to calculate their own community’s green energy capacity for the first time.

c) Expanded user-base – (i) In addition to local citizens, the project will support practitioners, cityplanners, municipal engineers, and other associates working on land-use planning and community energy. It will provide a digital “template” for other communities beyond Metro Vancouver and enable them to populate results by entering their respective data/numbers.
(ii) One of CALP’s parallel projects is the development of an educational ‘Future Delta’ video game that demonstrates possible effects of climate change on the City of Delta and ways to mitigate it. Outputs from the digital Primer will be integrated into the video game and thus made accessible to youth across schools and colleges in Delta and more widely.

For more information on this project, please contact Dr. Stephen Sheppard at CALP.

Funded by: Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, the Neptis Foundation, and Metro Vancouver (2013 – 2015), and supported by our partner the City of Richmond.
Project Leader: Dr. Stephen Sheppard
UBC Researchers (CALP): Rory Tooke, Shirlene Cote, Sara Barron
UBC Students: TBD


Visualizing Urban Futures: Geomatics Decision Support For Canadian Urban Regions

CALP created the Illustrated Guide to Community Energy, which offers clear and compelling visuals of Metro Vancouver case studies, and new information on regional and local renewable energy resources. The Guide reveals how local involvement in community energy systems can promote more sustainable and secure energy futures, while reducing carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Its purpose is to assist municipal leaders and citizens in learning about energy options, stimulate discussion about energy choices and inspire using visual demonstrations of community energy scenarios.  

Click here to download the guide.  Coming soon:

Illustrated Guide

The Illustrated Guide to Community Energy has been developed by CALP and the Elements Lab in partnership with Metro Vancouver, citizens and staff of the City of Richmond, and the City of Surrey and with support from the Neptis Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and GEOIDE.  For more information on the Guide, please contact Rory Tooke at CALP.

(Production of this Guide was completed during the final phase of Visualising Urban Futures: Geomatics Decision Support For Canadian Urban Regions.  See below for more information on the initial project scope and research).


The need for Canada’s urban regions to become more sustainable in environmental, economic, and social terms has grown markedly over the past decade. In this light, a variety of provincial, metropolitan and local initiatives have been launched to address sector-specific, thematic dimensions of urban sustainability including urban sprawl (e.g. Ontario Places to Grow Act 2005), energy production and consumption (BC Bill 27 Green Communities 2007, Ontario Green Energy Act 2009) and transportation (e.g. Region of Waterloo Light Rapid Transit, Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan). Such initiatives are transformative in nature, demand substantial realignment of public priorities and resource allocations and, ultimately, are implemented, planned and managed at local and regional scales, with local implications for neighbourhood livability and functionality.

This project will address these needs by producing “digital stories based in data”, based on interactive scenario exploration tools and methods that link future land use choices, transportation infrastructure, energy and climate change (GHG) strategies. Specifically, the project proposes to develop and test a suite of prototype web-based “spatial dashboard” decision tools, coupled with immersive geovisualization environments, to foster information-rich and scenario-based exploration of land use and select urban sustainability issues. The tools will be applied to three interrelated problem domains highly relevant in the Canadian urban context: a) urban intensification and land use change, b) transportation systems, and c) urban energy demand, renewable energy potential, and GHG emissions reductions.

This project will seek to overcome this barrier in three key ways. First, a multi-scale approach will be adopted to permit neighbourhood level changes to land use, transportation and energy use / generation to be understood in light of regional land use/transportation systems. Second, development and evaluation of the tools and use protocols will be conducted across the urban regions of Toronto, Vancouver and Waterloo, with some variation for local concerns and expertise, in order to ensure transferability of research outputs. Finally, our research will be anchored in practice through deep involvement of key local and regional partners (e.g. Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority, Metro Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Waterloo Region, Toronto District School Board), working closely with NEPTIS on overall tool development and usability. Thus, end-user engagement is a cross-cutting dimension of this project, involving a spectrum of local decision makers, domain experts, and interested citizens, that will ensure the research is relevant to practice.

Read the 2011 GEOIDE Progress Report for this project TSII-201.  Please contact Rory Tooke at CALP for more information.

Funded by: GEOIDE Networks of Centres of Excellence/Neptis Foundation (2011 – 2013) (Phase IV Project:  TSII-201)
and supported by other funding partners:  Vancouver Foundation; MetroVancouver; and Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
Project Leader: Dr. Stephen Sheppard
UBC Researchers (CALP):  Sara Barron and Shirlene Cote
UBC Researchers (Elements Lab) Dr. Ron Kellett and Dr. Cynthia Girling
UBC Students:  Rory Tooke, Lukas Holy, Kevin Zhang, Glenis Canete
CALP Affiliates: Ellen Pond and David Flanders

Local Climate Change Visioning Online Training Modules

These training modules are designed to enable users across Canada to develop their own local scenarios, identify relevant spatial data, assess visualization needs, and determine visualization media and production methods for local implementation. These training modules incorporate Delta RAC, and other prior CALP visualization materials.  Please refer to CALP’s Guidance Manual and the Delta RAC Sea Level Rise Adaptation website for more information.

We hope that the modules will enable more rapid uptake of processes and tools that enhance public engagement, policy development, and decision support around climate change issues.

Training Module 1 Spatial & Local Scenario Building aims to help users develop local scenarios to help take climate change into account for community planning. Scenarios_Module_Final_web

Training Module 2 Data Integration aims to help users identify, access and develop data, including spatial data, for the purposes of scenario building and visualization, and how to integrate these into a local climate change planning process. Data_Module_Final

Training Module 3 Visualization Design & Production aims to help users assess their visualization needs and determine the appropriate visualization media and production methods for local implementation. Visualization_Module_Final_web

These training modules were made possible by support and funding from Natural Resources Canada (Regional Adaptation Collaborative) and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (2012)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen Sheppard
CALP Researchers: Sara Barron
CALP Affiliates: Ellen Pond, David Flanders

Climate change is here, bringing unprecedented challenges, but also new opportunities.  One group that CALP works with is SFU’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT).  This group equips decision-makers with resources that will assist industry, governments, and communities to adapt to the impacts.  Visit their website for more information.

Community-based Game Design & Evaluation for Local Climate Change Action

This project will for the first time use an interactive educational video game to enable exploration and querying of local climate change. This approach combines climate change science, energy modeling, community planning and creative problem solving to allow users to explore potential impacts, adaptation solutions, and mitigation strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Building on the team’s recent action research using the established power of science-based visualizations methods the aim is to increase awareness, inquiry and participation in climate change action. Taking advantage of the Future Delta prototype (see link below), developed as a proof of concept for a small area of Delta BC, this work extends to the broader community to create a virtual environment that will act as a tool for public use and engagement on local climate change solutions. Combining climate change modeling, 3D visualizations of real places and user interactivity we aim to make climate change science and solutions more salient and engaging to those people that conventional climate science often fails to reach.

This immersive and interactive tool will provide an active learning environment of play and exploration that can be integrated into high school curricula, as well as accessed by anyone in the broader community. Users will be invited to help design the game collaboratively with the researchers. The intention is to empower users to visualize and intuitively grasp critical scientific data while enjoying challenge, action and engagement in individual and group choices and strategies. The research aims to reach audiences across a range of age-groups, cultures, and attitudes to climate change, and discover how they react to the climate change impacts and choices in a simulated exploratory environment. We hope to raise the profile of the immediate and real issues of climate change in the Delta community as well as a suite of feasible response options. Grounded in a real place, informed by scientific information, and rigorously evaluated for effectiveness, this research will bridge the communicative power of interactive multimedia with climate change action experimentation.

This collaborative project, employs a team of people from UBC’s Creative Studies, School of Music and The Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning with the goal of working with general audiences and across disciplines to catalyze effective communication design. To play the game prototype visit

For more information on this project contact Dr. Stephen Sheppard.

Funded by: SSHRC – Insight Grant (April 2012 – March 2017)
Principal Investigator:  Dr. Stephen Sheppard
Co-Investigator:  Dr. Aleks Dulic, Creative Studies, UBC Okanagan
UBC Researchers (CALP Affiliates):  Dr. Olaf Schroth, David Flanders
UBC Students: Alicia Lavalle, Nick Sinkewicz, Malavika Mantripragada
SFU Student:  Amber Choo

Delta RAC Sea Level rise project website

CALP launched a website about our sea level rise project with the Corporation of Delta,  The website provides visualizations of future adaptation scenarios, and three online training modules (see NEWS item for more info), which summarize some of the basic content of CALP’s Guidance Manual.  The modules can be accessed through the link above, and by sequentially clicking “Training Modules”.  For more information on this project, please contact David Flanders at CALP or Dr. Stephen Sheppard.

This project was made possible by funding from Natural Resources Canada (Regional Adaptation Collaborative) and the Fraser Basin Council (2012)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen Sheppard
CALP Researchers: Sara Barron, Glenis Canete
CALP Affiliates: Ellen Pond, David Flanders

Greenest City Conversations Project

These workshops were developed by a team of researchers at the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at UBC, working with Community Planning at the City of Vancouver as part of the Greenest City Conversation Project.

Workshop participants explored how we can plan for a more resilient energy future at the neighbourhood scale, and design a low-carbon neighbourhood by choosing from a range of strategies including integrated land use and redevelopment,  transportation alternatives, technology changes, and behavioural/cultural shifts.

The May 26th workshop was held in the historic Marpole United Church, and the June 9th workshop at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Grandview-Woodland.

For more information on this project and to view the workshop findings and results, please visit:

Funded by:  GRAND Network Centres for Excellence (2010 – 2012) and City of Vancouver

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen Sheppard
UBC Researchers: Sara Barron
UBC Students:  Jon Salter, Nicole Miller, Glenis Canete
CALP Affiliates:  Ellen Pond

4D Visioning for Climate Decision-Making: Strengthening the local climate change visioning process for communities.

This research project is a continuation of the Local Climate Change Visioning Tools and Process for Community Decision Making project.  Our aim is to develop a prototype for improved community planning to localize, spatialize, and visualize climate change effects using downscaled climate modeling, geospatial information, and the best available land-use models. Versions of the prototype process and tools will be tested in four case study communities across Canada:  in Greater Vancouver, downtown Toronto, the Bow River watershed in Alberta, and Clyde River in Nunavut.

Clyde River is an arctic Hamlet of approximately 1,000 people in Canada’s Nunavut Territory.  Arctic regions are seeing rapid changes in weather, landscape and lifestyle as a result of climate change, communities are geographically dispersed and culturally distinct from the central government.  Climate change planning in this context is especially challenging, and this project seeks to understand the role that 4D visioning might play in assisting communities and governments better adapt to the changes ahead.

Researchers from CALP are working with the Ittaq Heritage and Research Centre in Clyde River, and with Natural Resources Canada to collaboratively develop and model future development scenarios based on key community priorities.  Community meetings, radio shows, mapping workshops, and 3D modeling have all been used to communicate these scenarios to different audiences.

Future work will continue to share this work with relevant decision-makers in the Government of Nunavut and beyond, and to evaluate its potential usefulness to future planning projects in the north.

View the latest poster series from the March 2012 trip to Clyde River, Nunavut, which completes 4 years of collaborative research for this case study in connection to landscape hazards, climate, population, community design, land use, energy use and quality of life in Clyde River both now and in the future.

Download a 2-page summary of the project from January, 2011.   Other information may be available on the ITTAQ’s website (under their Projects page).

Read Laura Cornish’s MA thesis: Can 4D Visioning Foster Community Responses on Climate Change?

For more information on this project please contact, David Flanders

Funded by: GEOIDE Networks of Centres of Excellence (Phase IV 2009 – 2012)
Project Leader: Dr. Stephen Sheppard
CALP Researchers:  David Flanders, Ellen Pond, Sara Barron, Olaf Schroth, Kristi Tatebe
UBC Students: Laura Cornish, Nick Sinkewicz, Jia Cheng

Carbon Management in BC. Call for Applied Research: Community Fire Interface Biomass Utilization for Heating Fuel

Many rural communities in BC are faced with increasing heating costs and growing demand for heat, yet are also surrounded by a rich resource of an alternative local, low-carbon heating fuel: biomass.  Read more

BC Hydro Theatre

The BC Hydro Theatre (or as CALP refers to it  as “the Decision Theatre”), will feature advanced visualization and interaction technologies to engage audiences in simulations of sustainability scenarios in Metro Vancouver and beyond. Groups will be able to “fly” to different locations, visualize the neighbourhood now and in the future, and manipulate information using wireless devices connected to large visual display screens in order to consider the potential impacts of climate change, energy use and sustainability. Reconfigurable screens will maximize flexibility and allow experimentation with the theatre technology itself. For information on the Theatre see and for more detailed information please contact the Theatre Manager: Tim Herron 

This project was made possible with funding from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), BC Hydro and other funding partners.  Please visit the CIRS’ website for more information.