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BCIT’s Living Lab initiative is a pan-institutional, collaborative approach to hands-on learning that uses the campus as a vehicle to engage students, faculty and staff in solving real-world challenges.

Image of building SW1 gateway.
The integration of research, teaching and operations makes BCIT’s Gateway building an outstanding example of the Living Lab initiative.

Living Labs:

  • foster skills development through access to campus infrastructure and information,
  • demonstrate leading edge technologies and equipment, and
  • present opportunities to conceptualize, design and implement solutions that advance the state of practice.

Participatory research & learning

The term “Living Lab” references an approach to research that is participatory in nature. Research subjects and even the researchers themselves become participants who interact through the course of their daily lives with whatever it is that is being tested. Through their interactions, participants learn about how what is being tested performs, how people learn to adapt to it, and how improvements can be made.


The term was used first at BCIT in 1997 through a collaborative research initiative with SFU aimed at improving the relationship between people and their living and working environments. The concept of transforming BCIT’s campuses into living laboratories of sustainability was formerly adopted by the Institute in 2007 through an initial agreement between Administrative Services and the School of Construction and the Environment, which was later adopted by Information Technology Services.

Principles for moving forward

BCIT is now exploring how to implement the Living Lab initiative across the entire institute. The intent is to establish the protocols and build a culture that enables using the campus as a test-bed for new ideas that also foster student learning and skills development.

The following overarching principles help guide us to develop BCIT campuses as Living Labs:

  1. Make infrastructure and building systems visible and data pertaining to their operation accessible to the BCIT community for educational and applied research purposes.
  2. Adopt a problem-based learning pedagogy to engage faculty and students directly in helping to solve challenges pertaining to the campus’ operations and development.
  3. Showcase best practices both in the built and natural environment as well as in the operations and educational delivery activities of the Institute so that all students at BCIT are exposed to sustainability in action – regardless of what program they take.
  4. Pursue implementation of the Living Lab initiative while respecting the Institute’s core business, current commitments, and the limits of BCIT resources.

Read more about the history of the Living Lab initiative at BCIT

View a list of recent Living Lab projects