Recent PhDs

Neil Strachan (PhD, 2002): “Adoption and Supply of a Distributed Energy Technology”


Technical and economic developments in distributed generation represent an opportunity for a radically different energy market paradigm, and potentially significant cuts in global carbon emissions. This thesis investigates distributed generation along two interrelated themes:

1. Early adoption and supply of the distributed technology of internal combustion engine cogeneration.
2. Private and social cost implications of distributed generation for private investors and within an energy system.

Engine based cogeneration of both power and heat has been a remarkable success in the Netherlands with over 5,000 installations and 1,500MWe of installed capacity by 1997. However, the technology has struggled in the UK with an installed capacity of 110MWe, fulfilling only 10% of its large estimated potential. Site level data was obtained for all engine cogen adoptions in both countries from 1985 through 1998, supported by actual data on costs, operating experience and energy tariffs. Institutional differences between the two countries were investigated to explain this dramatic difference. Two potential explanatory factors were not pursued in detail: the role of adopter networks, and organizational decision making under falling and volatile energy prices.

An engineering economic simulation model of engine cogen investments was developed for the UK, and extended for the Netherlands. The major result of the investment model was the existence of a minimum economic size threshold, largely due to scale invariant maintenance costs. For the UK, a 140kWe unit gave a 50:50 probability of a positive NPV on investment. Therefore, the majority (>60%) of early UK adoptions of this distributed technology were questionable economic investments. In the Netherlands, lower capital and maintenance costs, together with reduced grid connection costs, reduced the minimum economic size threshold to 100kWe. Available subsidies brought this size threshold even lower to 70kWe and improved returns for all units. However, most of their units were larger than 200kWe and almost always provided significant economic savings.

This study revealed a number of key factors in shaping how the industry had evolved in each country:

  • Feed-in-tarrifs made the technology a viable investment in the Netherlands, while hindering its adopting in the UK.
  • Supplier’s commercial strategy had a significant impact on how they sought to succeed in their business (as opposed to meet their clients’ needs).
  • Only deep knowledge of clients’ needs and matching cogeneration installations to their heat and power requirements can lead to diffusion of a new technology into its ideal niche.

Now Chaired Professor of Energy at University College London (UK).


Hisham Zerriffi (PhD, 2004 co-supervised with A. Farrell): “Electric power systems under stress: an evaluation of centralised vs. distributed system architectures.” 

The issue of electric power systems under persistent and high stress conditions and possible changes to electric power systems to deal with this issue is the subject of this dissertation. The stresses considered here are not the single event type of disruptions that occur as a result of a hurricane or other extreme weather event or the large blackouts that result from a particular set of circumstances. Instead the focus is on conditions that cause systematic and long-term performance degradation of the system such as underinvestment in infrastructure, poor maintenance, and military conflict.

While it has long been recognized that persistent stresses such as conflict and war can have a large impact on electric power systems, there has been few systematic analyses of the problem. The first goal of this research was to model and quantify the reliability and economic differences between centralized and distributed energy systems for providing electricity and heat, particularly under stress conditions. This goal was met through the development of Monte Carlo reliability simulations, applied to different system network topologies. The results of those models show significant potential improvements in energy delivery with distributed systems.

The second goal was to determine the impact of heterogeneity of local loads on the desired level of decentralization of the system and the impact of decentralization on the network requirements. This goal was met through a combination of Monte Carlo simulations applied to systems with differentiated and non-coincident loads and an optimal power flow applied to a more realistic network topology. The results of those models show the potential for improvements when loads are non-coincident and micro-grids can share power as well as the fact that the power sharing may be largely limited to local clusters of micro-grids. This research also showed the need for incorporation of stress in power systems modeling and a method for characterizing stress.

Now a professor at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC (Canada).


Charlie Wilson (PhD, 2008 co-supervised with T. McDaniels): “Understanding and influencing energy efficient renovation decisions”


Each social science discipline offers competing and often conflicting models of human behaviour. Differences persist because disciplinary models are founded on selective assumptions and bespoke empirical data. This thesis tests the applicability of various behavioural models against a single comprehensive data set in a focal area of environmental policy: residential energy use. In so doing, some tensions and misconceptions in the behavioural bases for energy policy are teased out. More robust approaches to the promotion of individual behaviour change are elucidated.

The first part of the thesis is an extensive review of the behavioural literature. The focus is on decision making as a precursor of behaviour that is intentional and cognitively mediated. The review considers microeconomic models of utility maximisation within a broader notion of economic rationality, and behavioural economic findings on heuristics, or simple non-optimising decision rules, that are often associated with systematic biases in decision making. The review continues by looking at other instrumental or outcome-oriented decision models from behavioural psychology and technology diffusion studies in which attitudes and perceptions play a greater role. Behavioural models from social psychology instead emphasize the constraints placed on psychological factors by a decision’s context. Contextual constraints are developed further by sociological models in which individual agency is attenuated by social and technical systems, and the normative behaviour that these imply.

The second part of the thesis picks apart an empirical dataset combining both stated and revealed preference data. 809 homeowners were surveyed on a wide range of factors relating to home renovations. The sample was intentionally biased to over-represent both energy efficient renovators, and homeowners at different stages of a renovation decision. The survey data was combined with electricity and gas consumption data from the respective utilities, and data from a supplementary survey of realtors focusing on the influence of renovations on property value.

There are various headline findings. Firstly, decisions are a process not an input-output algorithm as represented in so many disciplinary models. Influences and motivations all change over a decision process. Threshold effects are also evidenced. This suggests ways for effectively targeting financial incentives which are a key lever of residential energy policy. Secondly, emotional and aesthetic factors play a driving role in renovation decisions which are then justified as instrumental after the fact using financial or environmental rationales. This emphasizes how single cross-section research (either pre- or post-decision) will substantiate different understandings of decision making. Thirdly, renovation decisions can be distinguished by their scope. Energy efficient renovations to a home’s building envelope or energy systems are in many ways distinct from renovations to a home’s amenities and living spaces. Yet the key to promoting energy efficiency may lie in the harnessing of social norms on amenity renovations. Effective energy policy needs to look beyond the energy services supply chain. Fourthly, homeowners’ expectations for a return on their renovation investments undermine the assumption of financial rationality that pervades information-based policies. Moreover, homeowners’ own knowledge of their energy costs is characterised by pervasive uncertainty and systematic over-estimation. This can, in turn, be explained by salience, availability and anchoring biases.

Now a professor at the Tyndal Centre, University of East Anglia (UK).


Raul Pacheco (PhD, 2008): “An integrated assessment of the effects of environmental regulation, land use changes and market forces on the Mexican leather and footwear industries’ restructuring.”


Traditional theories of industrial restructuring assign the most explanatory weight of the structural change phenomenon to increasing pressures via globalization and falling trade barriers. This thesis offers a new model of thinking about industrial restructuring that includes multiple stressors. The thesis focuses on three main drivers of structural change: market pressures, environmental regulation and changes in land use and land pricing, using two case studies of leather and footwear industrial clusters in Mexico, located in the cities of León and Guadalajara.  Evidence of multiple drivers of structural change is found in the dissertation. Furthermore, responses to restructuring drivers in León and Guadalajara are found to be substantially different. Firms in the leather and footwear cluster in León have implemented countervailing strategies such as price competition, government lobbying, and more recently, investment in socio-economic research (competitiveness) projects. However, firms in the leather and footwear cluster in Guadalajara focused on a specific, high-end target market. At the larger, urban scale, footwear and its allied industries in the city of León resisted change and have tried to remain in operation while the city of Guadalajara has focused on a diversification strategy, attracting new (arguably more technically advanced) industries. This thesis offers empirical and theoretical advances. Empirically, it applies a firm demographics approach to the study of industrial clusters under multiple stressors. This approach has not been previously used on Mexican data. Theoretically, it demonstrates that future analyses of industrial complexes’ structural change can be strengthened through the use of an integrated assessment framework investigating the effect of multiple stressors (market forces, land pricing, technical change, environmental regulations, and consumer preferences) on industrial restructuring.

Now a professor Public Administration Division of CIDE (Mexico).


Negar Elmieh (PhD 2009):  “An integrated assessment of public health responses to the spread of the West Nile Virus. “

Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases provide a challenge to public health in that the frequency, location, duration, and sequelae of the disease and outbreak are not always readily identifiable.  In the absence of such information, the need to understand what drives risk perceptions, risk trade-offs, and heterogeneity in population behaviors becomes important in designing effective and appropriate risk communications, public health messages, and interventions.  In this thesis, four studies are described that examine risk perceptions, risk trade-offs, and behavioral uncertainties as they relate to West Nile virus (WNV) prevention and control strategies.  In Chapter 2, the health belief model was used to examine the influence of health beliefs and demographics on health behaviors recommended to reduce the risk of WNV.  Results showed that health beliefs and subsequent behaviors varied based on the perceived risk and disease context.  Respondents were more likely to engage in recommended health behaviors if they received timely information, understood the benefits of a particular behavior, and lived in areas exposed to WNV.  In Chapter 3, risk trade-offs of WNV interventions were examined between laypeople and health experts using multi-criteria decision analyses. Laypeople perceived some WNV interventions to be more effective than health experts reported them to be.  Health experts were most concerned about the effectiveness of such interventions. This showed that laypeople were more willing to make risk trade-offs given the scenario.  In Chapter 4, probabilistic modeling techniques were used to characterize variability and uncertainty in population, environmental, pesticide, and exposure characteristics.  By modeling a realistic mosquito abatement campaign, we found that children under 6 are potentially at risk of exposure to malathion levels that exceed standards set by Canadian and US regulatory agencies.  Chapter 5 explored behavioral and demographic risk factors associated with risk perceptions of WNV and WNV interventions.  Unique associations were found which merit further study to understand the extent of their relationships.  Together, these studies highlight the importance of targeted programs and risk communications to specific sub-populations bridging knowledge gaps.  Though the findings are specific to WNV, their implications are far-reaching and useful in preparing for other emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Now a professor at Quest (Canada).


Shannon Hagerman (PhD 2009, co-supervised with T. Satterfield): “Adapting conservation policy to the impacts of climate change: an integrated examination of ecological and social dimensions of change”


Recognition of the impacts of climate change has prompted re-assessment of existing conservation policy frameworks (here thought of as collections of means and objectives that reflect values, beliefs and expectations of control). The concern is that changing temperature and precipitation regimes will alter an extensive range of biological processes and patterns. These system dynamics are at odds with long-established conservation policies that are predicated on assumptions of stable biodiversity targets (e.g. species or ecosystems), and that seek to protect these targets by means of static protected areas. Efforts to address this challenge have so far originated from the fields of ecology and biogeography and include the core adaptive strategies of expanding protected areas and implementing migration corridors. The purpose of this research was to reach beyond these disciplines to integrate across a set of ecological and social insights to develop a more holistic understanding of challenge of adapting conservation policy to the impacts of climate change. Two overarching questions guided this research: 1) do the impacts of climate change necessitate a different set of means, objectives and expectations than are indicated by current conservation adaptation proposals (i.e. proposals that include new protected areas and migration corridors as the primary adaptive strategy); and 2) if there is evidence that this is so, what are the barriers to implementing a policy framework with new means, objectives and expectations?

Using a combination of case study, expert elicitation, and ethnographic methods, the results of this thesis provide empirical evidence that the impacts of climate change are seen by many experts to implicate the need for changes in conservation policy that include consideration of interventions such facilitating species distributions through disturbance, assisted migration, revised objectives, and triage-like priority setting. Yet simultaneously there is evidence of a publicly precautionary ambivalence towards these alternative elements of a potentially new policy framework, combined with durable more preservationist (less engineering) conservation values. It is contended that these value-based commitments have in part, shaped the adaptive response so far. Combined, these results highlight that policy adaptation within “science-based” conservation is a tangle of social dynamics, including durable preservationist-type values and related resistance to anticipated difficult tradeoffs implicit in a more transformative decision framework.

Now a visiting scholar at the the Institute for Resources & Sustainability at UBC (Canada).


Eric Mazzi (PhD 2010): “An integrated assessment of climate change policy, air quality and traffic safety for passenger cars in the UK.” 


Climate change mitigation policies applied to passenger cars can be effective in reducing tailpipe CO2 rates by changing vehicle mass, fuels, and drive-train technology. However, these same factors can lead to changes in vehicle emissions, vehicle safety, and, consequently, changes in health outcomes from air pollution and traffic collisions. These relationships are examined using the UK as a case study where tax regimes based on tailpipe CO2 emission rates have been in place since 2001.

Policymakers are tasked to design CO2 policies for passenger cars, but the effectiveness of new policies will depend on how well climate mitigation is balanced with other relevant risks. I examine the rationale and introduce the basic framework for an Integrated Assessment approach to quantitatively assess passenger car CO2 policies. As industrialized countries transition to more heterogeneous fleets with increasing uptake of alternative fuels and technologies, the importance of decision criteria choices, risk metrics, system boundaries, and inclusion of all relevant risks using an Integrated Assessment framework will be increasingly critical.

Since 2001, there has been a strong growth in diesel car registrations in the UK. For 2001-2020, I estimate that switching from gasoline to diesel cars reduces CO2 emissions by 0.4 mega-tonnes annually. However, current diesel cars emit higher levels of PM10 and the switch from gasoline to diesel cars is estimated to result in 90 additional deaths annually (range 20-300) from 2001-2020.

The UK has also had an increase in registrations of lighter vehicles. The relationship between tailpipe CO2 emission rates, vehicle mass, and traffic safety risks were examined. The two-car “first law” fatality risk ratio for drivers of lighter cars relative to drivers of heavier cars was estimated to be the mass ratio raised to the power 5.3.  Independent estimates of driver killed or serious injury risk in two-car collisions were found to be inversely related to vehicle CO2 emission rates. Scenario analyses show that policies combining incentives for lighter cars with a 1,600 kg upper limit for new cars should simultaneously achieve traffic safety and climate mitigation goals more effectively than policies with no upper limit on mass.

Now running the innovative Clean Energy Engineering Masters program at UBC (Canada).


Sonja Klinsky (PhD 2010): Conceptions of justice in mitigation and adaptation to climate change


Climate change presents profound justice dilemmas because of its asymmetrical costs and benefits.  This is complicated by the tendency of both climate change and justice to change their appearance across contexts.   This dissertation explores how arguments about justice are used in debates about how climate policy should be designed.

Part A focuses on how arguments about justice have been used in debates about ideal architectures for international climate policy.  A framework for analysing international climate policy proposals is developed using literature from both the philosophy and policy analysis communities.  This analysis identifies three archetypal approaches to climate change policy at this level, each of which has potential justice implications.

Part B explores public perceptions of justice in mitigation and adaptation climate policy contexts.  This section creates and applies a methodology to explore the arguments about justice considered relevant by lay public participants in a series of climate policy decision dilemmas.  Among other results, this part highlights the importance of framing in considerations of justice in climate policy.

Finally, Part C explores climate policy dilemmas currently faced by policy insiders at the sub-national level, and cross-examines the views policy-insiders and the public think each other have on these issues.  This part of the thesis identifies a range of specific justice dilemmas at the sub-national level.  It also suggests that mis-communication between policy insiders and the public may limit the range of climate policies considered politically feasible.

Four lessons emerge from this dissertation.  First, justice is pragmatically important when developing climate policy.  Second, there has been a systemic lack of integration across academic, policy and public communities on questions of justice and climate policy.  Third, climate change and justice have multiple faces.  How climate change policy decisions are framed will shape the arguments stakeholders are likely to consider relevant.  Finally, methodologically a mixed methods approach may be of use in other similarly ambiguous research contexts.  Overall, explicit recognition of the importance and complexity of justice in climate policy decision-making may help us design more effective and desirable climate policies.

Now a professor at the  School of Sustainability the University of Arizona (USA).


Brian D Gouge (PhD 2012):  Modeling and Mitigating the Climate and Health Impacts of Emissions from Public Transportation Bus Fleets: An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Public Transportation


Public transportation has been widely promoted as a means of increasing the sustainability of urban transportation systems; however, the adverse impacts of these systems are often downplayed or overlooked.  An integrated assessment model was developed to explicitly address the adverse climate and health impacts of the primary exhaust emissions from heavy-duty transit bus fleets.  Models of the climate and health impact pathways were developed at several different spatial scales (e.g., macro, meso, and micro).  These models were used to quantify the potential of a novel operational control strategy based on vehicle scheduling optimisation to reduce the impacts and costs of operating a transit bus fleet.  The optimisation was found to reduce impacts and costs, but it also showed that transit agencies that optimise for operating costs and/or climate impacts alone may inadvertently increase exposure and health impacts  , highlighting the need for an integrated assessment approach.  In developing the impact pathway models, particular attention was devoted to exploring and evaluating methods of modeling vehicle activity and emissions as well as the implications of these methods on estimating exposure.  Traditional, regional/macro scale assessments based on emissions inventories were found to underestimate exposure and health impacts because they failed to account for intra-regional spatial variability in and the relationship between emissions and populations.  In addition, emissions modeling approaches based on distance-based emission factors were found to poorly characterise the spatial distribution of emissions and underestimate total emissions in comparison to modal modeling approaches because they do not fully account for the effects of vehicle activity on emissions.  However, while modal modeling approaches have several advantages, these models may still be biased as a result limited calibration.  An evaluation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s MOVES model, a modal model, revealed significant biases in the predictions of NOX, PM, and THC emissions from both diesel and CNG transit buses, suggesting that the model would benefit from further calibration and that the results it generates should be interpreted with care.


Thor Jensen (PhD 2015) The Adoption of Ground Source Heat Pumps at Multiple Scales in North America


In North America, space heating, hot water, and air conditioning use more secondary energy than any other activity within buildings, thus emitting the majority of scope 1 and scope 2 Greenhouse Gases (GHG). The Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) uses one-third the energy of traditional technologies to provide space conditioning and hot water services.

While GSHP is a well-established technology, the energy savings and lower GHG emissions have not translated into their widespread adoption. Public policy measures and financial incentives adopted to promote GSHP have failed to lead to broad adoption or lower costs. This thesis examines the adoption of GSHP in response to supportive policies among residential, institutional, and city-scale adopters.

Detailed site-level and panel data permit natural experiments on the response of residential adopters in Canada and the US to changing incentives. At higher scales, regulatory proceedings concerning the offering of Thermal Energy Services (TES) has provided a case study for analysis of utility models to finance GSHP for commercial and institutional clients.

In Canada and the US, financial incentives failed to sustain the adoption of GSHP throughout or after the period of subsidy among residential households. Neither did incentives lead to a decrease in price over time. Free-ridership problems in Canada and an inability to make inroads to areas served by natural gas have stranded GSHP technology. Further, the capital cost of GSHP results in a higher lifecycle cost than most alternatives. The economy-wide benefits of financial incentives for GSHP are limited in Canada, where most heat pumps are imported.

TES provide compelling innovations to bridge barriers at higher scales. TES overcome balance sheet constraints on debt common to public sector organizations by financing capital equipment and renovations as utility payments. TES can overcome capital constraints faced by developers by financing equipment inside the building lowering construction costs. However, our case study of public procurement reveals TES to be a costly approach in the long run. The insights from this research are translated into best practices and policy advice to improve contracting, increase awareness, and align incentives for greater efficiency.


Michiko Namazu (PhD 2016) The Evolution of Carsharing: Heterogeneity in Adoption and Impacts 


The focus of this thesis lies on understanding how heterogeneity in carshaing (CS) and members at different stages of its adoption in society shape its impacts on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and car ownership. Past studies have two shortcomings: they do not acknowledge the bias that could arise due to the keen interest of early adopters, and they did not tease out the role of service type in observing outcomes of interest.

The serial studies in this thesis found the potential of CS to reduce GHGs and vehicle dependency. However, this does not mean that CS promises to always provide these benefits to everyone. The positive effects found among early adopters do not guarantee that the same effects would be realized among coming adopters especially because early adopters of CS are atypical of the general public in many individual and household characteristics. This is the one of the two primary findings from this thesis: the dynamics of CS service diffusion. As the adoption stage matures, the usage and roles of CS would be changing hence the effects.

The second primary finding is the importance of heterogeneity between CS services. Two distinct CS services were found to have different impacts in vehicle ownership change, suggesting that the heterogeneities among CS services affect how the services are utilized; hence what kind of effects the CS services bring to society. Policy makers often generalize various CS services as CS; however, the heterogeneities will need a more careful attention and specifically tailored policies in order to ensure CS impacts continue to align with sound urban transport policy.

These dynamic changes will affect how CS services should be maintained. Managing shared properties has been a challenging issue, and this may become even more difficult with more diverse users and CS service models.

Active knowledge sharing and collaborations among stakeholders (policy makers, CS providers, and scholars) may be a kay factor to bring further benefits to all. As CS carries the word of “sharing”, if these stakeholders could build a better collaborative “sharing” environment, a large part of the potential of CS may be feasible.


Maryam Rezaei (PhD 2017) Power to the People: Thinking (and rethinking) energy poverty in British Columbia, Canada


Energy poverty, or the experience of struggling to meet one’s energy needs, is increasingly the subject of attention in Canada — though no established definition for it exists and the definitions that are used often obscure its connections with the systemic processes that create it. In this dissertation, I situate energy poverty as a justice issue and operationalize various understandings of justice (distributive, procedural, recognition-based and restorative) to discuss how energy poverty may be conceptualized in the settler- colonial context of Canada, and, indeed, how different conceptualization reveal different processes of its creation, as well as different approaches to addressing it.

Based on empirical work with two First Nations communities in British Columbia (Musqueam and Tsay Keh Dene), I outline the unfolding of energy poverty in BC amidst a constructed narrative of energy plenty, which aims to expand the reach of the extractive energy industry in the province. In doing so, I link specific energy planning processes that create precarious energy access, with mundane details of how energy poverty manifests itself in household practices that use energy. This linking of the experience of those who experience energy poverty and energy planning processes that create it reveals not only how industrial energy demand in BC is privileged over residential energy use broadly, but also how the energy demands of off-grid indigenous communities such as Tsay Keh are deemed ‘artificial and illegitimate in the community energy planning process.

This ethnographic work (including surveys, interviews, energy mapping exercises and energy ana- lytics) is complemented with a statistical analysis of data from Statistics Canadas Survey of Household Spending. This analysis highlights patterns in energy poverty across Canada and demonstrates a gap between the experience of energy poverty and the design and targeting of the residential energy retrofit programs that aim to address it. I conclude by making a series of recommendations for those who fight for energy justice, including the development of community-based energy programming (e.g. deep retrofits and community renewable projects) and broadening the scope of energy poverty alleviation programs from a focus on low-income households to include lower-middle class households as well.


Justin Ritchie (PhD 2017) Long-run energy resource economics: reconciling uncertain carbon signals for integrated assessments of global environmental change


Studies of global environmental change require a long-term perspective that must contend with uncertain future human and Earth system processes. In this context, the scientific community frames possibilities for technological change in energy resource use with integrated assessment models (IAMs). IAMs combine various threads of scientific knowledge to allow systematic studies of hypothetical socioeconomic and technological developments.

Many engineering-focused IAMs maintain economic concepts of energy use initiated by studies which responded to the 1970s energy crises by anticipating that growing demand for energy could rely on a coal backstop supply. Thus, many scenarios of vast coal combustion were produced to illustrate this outlook, where humanity had no choice but to become “the intelligent mole”. Such coal backstop scenarios played an important role in early climate model development because they provided a strong carbon signal.

Initial economic models of climate policy costs were based on assuming that the high-carbon backstop would always be cheaper than the low-carbon backstop. These ideas anchored expectations for future climate change as the IPCC assessment process was established, and continue to shape the uncertainty range considered by today’s studies that use standard greenhouse gas emission scenarios as the common language for discourses about the science of global change.

This thesis examines the modeling concepts used to structure uncertain energy resource developments for long-term studies of global environmental change with a special focus on coal. The concept of a vast coal backstop energy supply is evaluated based on understanding relevant uncertainties in the data. These findings are applied to develop empirical constraints for an IAM coal supply curve, and to produce scenarios of climate policy costs and pathways of technology development. It is found that an observationally constrained outlook for future coal production significantly reduces the costs of climate policy goals calculated by IAMs. In the example considered by this thesis, an empirically consistent coal supply curve produces climate policy costs for a 1.5°C target which are equivalent to those for a 2°C goal that must overcome a vast coal backstop supply: the default configuration of many IAMs.

Because the IAMs used in the research community represent long-run energy system developments with a return to coal hypothesis, they develop multi-decade scenarios where global per-capita coal use can only increase, in contrast to the historical trend of gradual decline. An energy system phase space method is developed to map whether these long-run scenarios provide sufficient coverage of future uncertainties, and it is found that IAM scenarios are needlessly constrained to produce outlooks for transitions toward a global energy supply with increasing carbon intensity. When these energy system scenarios are combined with socioeconomic projections which assume various rates of per-capita income convergence for the global population, they serve to reproduce a style of reasoning that links aspirational equity goals with worst-case environmental consequences.


Ghazal Ebrahimi (PhD 2018) Exploring the Effectiveness of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) in Delivering High Performance Buildings 


Research studies have shown significant discrepancies between the anticipated and actual performance of buildings in a verity of metrics. Various reasons for the persistent issue of performance gap have been identified in industry reports and academic literature. A review of these studies indicates that the root cause of performance gaps is the segregation of processes, services, and actors involved in building projects. This results in broken agency, self-interest behavior, and uncoordinated efforts, which make it difficult to optimize a building as a system.

The method used for delivery of a building has been found to have an important role in defining the nature of the relationships between project participants, the structure and organization of the project, and eventually the end results. Many have emphasized the need for more collaborative and integrated approaches towards project delivery in the building industry.

This thesis employs qualitative methods to understand whether Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), a method that provides a collaborative framework through contractual principles, can be a solution for delivery of truly high performance buildings. The serial studies in this thesis found that there are multiple benefits associated with IPD; however realizing these benefits can be impeded if the project, owner, and the broader team lack the set of characteristics which make them suitable for Integrated Project Delivery. IPD is an innovation and its implementation requires a supportive context, investment in preparation, acculturation, and capacity building.

A number of challenges have been reported in the process of implementing IPD; some have been persistent. The findings shows that improving the efficacy of this method requires rethinking current IPD implementation process; development of novel approaches to project planning and management; and more fundamentally a cultural change in the building industry.

In general, this thesis indicates that while employing IPD rather than conventional alternatives can benefit the project in many ways, implementing this method does not guarantee improved project outcomes. Delivering truly high performance buildings is fundamentally a social and cultural challenge. Addressing this issue requires a number of shifts in the current structure of the industry and our understating of professional roles and essential capabilities.

Krista English (PhD 2018) Using Network Science to Understand the Knowledge Translation Pathways that Support Evidence-Informed Decision-Making


Evidence-informed public policy has demonstrated positive outcomes for populations. Within the health sector, the concept of evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) suggests that knowledge generated from scientific research will be translated into evidence to support better policy. To facilitate this process, the concept of knowledge translation (KT) was developed within the Canadian health context fewer than 20 years ago.

Achieving the aspirational goals of EIDM and KT has proven difficult. Literature reviews have found that only 20% of knowledge transfer and exchange studies discussed real-world application and 14% of health research findings enter day-to-day practice, taking 17-20 years to do so.

New knowledge emerges through collaboration. Many aspects of KT involve complex social processes fundamentally embedded in relationships. There is compelling research showing a group’s success in solving complex problems is primarily correlated to the quality of relationships individuals form. Existing KT frameworks are almost exclusively void of the interpersonal network and therefore only tell part of the story.

Epidemiology has embraced network science for quantitatively describing the transmission dynamics of communicable diseases as a contagion phenomenon. This dissertation uses a similar approach to suggest that KT shares fundamental properties with other contagion phenomenon. The characteristics of individuals as well as the underlying network structure and heterogeneous patterns of combining and exchanging knowledge between individuals translates seamlessly.

Two applications are used to support this novel contribution. At the macro- level, a bibliometric analysis is used to understand the international co-authorship trends in health policy and systems research (HPSR). The resulting data were used in a network analysis to understand the degree to which economic regions served by HPSR actually participate. At the micro-level, a survey was conducted in a public health agency with an embedded research mandate. The survey captured demographics, knowledge about research and interpersonal networks on which research knowledge flows. These results were used to show the knowledge flow pathways within the respective networks.

Bibliometric and survey outcomes parameterize scalable, generalizable networks. Both macro- and micro applications use networks to develop strategies and highlight metrics that facilitate meaningful inclusion of the intended end users throughout the research process to improve KT for EIDM.

Jackie Lerner (PhD 2018) If you build it, will they come? Using historical development patterns to better anticipate future development scenarios in cumulative effects assessment


In Canada and the United States, as in many other jurisdictions worldwide, environmental impact assessments required as part of the permitting process for proposed resource development projects include cumulative effects assessments, which aim to predict a proposed project’s environmental impacts in combination with those of past, present, and future projects. This last category of projects has been problematic for analysts. Detailed information about future projects is usually scant, and this limitation is often cited as a justification for excluding future projects from consideration. Conversely, a more speculative approach to estimating the potential economic benefits of future projects is widely accepted. Thus, the authorities responsible for permitting projects are often given restrictive assessments of environmental impacts and optimistic assessments of economic benefits.

The goal of this dissertation is to introduce a practical approach to balancing the asymmetry described above—a method for considering induced development in CEA in order to give potential environmental impacts the same weight that potential economic benefits currently receive. To do this, I mine historical development patterns in a specific geographic context for empirical evidence of how projects build on top of preceding projects’ footprints of proximate services, labour, water and energy supplies, and routes to market, and use this evidence to forecast the probable outcomes of permitting a proposed project in terms of future induced development. The initial iteration of the method uses British Columbia as a case study, and makes use of data on that province’s historical development. This first iteration is intended as a means of exploring and demonstrating the method’s value in a specific application, while providing a framework that can be refined and applied to other contexts.