Biomass Plant Powers Up SFU Burnaby & UniverCity


A new biomass plant located on Burnaby Mountain is now in full operation, providing heat and hot water to most of SFU’s Burnaby campus and approximately half of the UniverCity community. This plant has drastically decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making Simon Fraser University (SFU) a leader in the use of green energy with one of the smallest GHG footprints of any university in Canada.

Developed in partnership with Corix Utilities, a leading developer and operator of district energy systems, the $33-million high-efficiency plant diverts wood waste, once destined for the landfill, into a low carbon energy source providing heat and hot water. The “fuel” is made up of clean wood waste (e.g. wood chips and shavings) from harvested log processing, local urban wood waste and construction projects. The biomass is delivered to the site, located on South Campus road, during off-peak traffic hours.

“SFU Burnaby’s greenhouse gas emissions from heating are expected to drop by 80 per cent, the equivalent of emissions from 900 homes every year,” says Larry Waddell, chief facilities officer, SFU. “This facility will also allow SFU to achieve 97 per cent of the province’s 2050 greenhouse gas target, making SFU one of the public sector leaders in Canada in reducing GHG emissions. I’m grateful for our partnerships with the Province, Corix Utilities and SFU Community Trust in taking this plant from idea to reality, to benefit our SFU community and local environment.”

“The SFU Community Trust have been advocates for low carbon energy solutions coupled with energy efficient buildings for over 10 years,” says Dale Mikkelsen, chief operating officer, SFU Community Trust. “Having buildings at UniverCity connect to the Corix energy plant will ensure that homes will have high quality energy for space heating and hot water, while significantly reducing their carbon footprint.”

“The SFU biomass plant is representative of the many exciting advances being made in renewable and district energy technology, and how we’ll need to design and build communities if we’re to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels,” says Travis Hickford-Kulak, president, Energy Services Canada, Corix Utilities. “We’re very proud to have partnered with SFU, the SFU Community Trust, the Province, and other stakeholders, in bringing this innovative project to fruition.”

Carys Kenny-Howell, a chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry student at SFU, who lives on campus, supports the project. “It’s just something that’s really important. Having an alternate energy source creating the energy for all of the people living and working up here, I think that’s a really big step,” says Carys.


The Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility (BMDEU), is a collaboration between Simon Fraser University (SFU), SFU Community Trust and Corix Multi-Utility Services Inc.

Biomass energy is more reliable compared to traditional electricity-based systems resulting in less weather-related power outages.

The plant’s efficiency translates to lower customer rates compared to individual systems.

The project created 80 locally hired, green infrastructure jobs during design and construction.

While fossil fuel combustion takes carbon from underground and puts it into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary cause of climate change, biomass combustion recycles the carbon already in the natural carbon cycle with no additional CO2 added to the atmosphere.

The Corix plant helps to achieve SFU’s Sustainability 2025 Plan targets which aim to reduce SFU’s total direct GHG emissions by 50 per cent by 2025.

SFU received a $4.75 million Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement grant from the Province of British Columbia to assist with financing of the project. The plant was financed and constructed, and is owned and operated by Corix and regulated by the BC Utilities Commission.

This Release can also be found on the Simon Fraser University Media Releases webpage.

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