Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility Project

As part of its commitment to sustainability, Simon Fraser University (SFU) and SFU Community Trust have partnered with Corix Utilities to provide cost-effective, low carbon energy via a proposed Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility. 

Project Updates

On February 28, 2017, Corix Multi-Utility Services Inc. (Corix) filed its Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility requesting approval for:

  1.  A Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) pursuant to section 45 of the Utilities Commission Act (UCA), authorizing the construction and operation by Corix of the biomass central energy plant and the associated facilities (Project Facilities); and

  2. Approval pursuant to sections 60 and 61 of the UCA of the Amended and Restated Thermal Energy Services Agreement, dated as of January 27, 2017, between Corix and Simon Fraser University including the cost of service, cost allocation and rate design principles set out in Schedule 1 (Cost of Service Parameters) and Schedule 2 (Cost Allocation and Rate Design Principles).

On September 15, 2017, by Order C-5-17:

  1. Pursuant to sections 45 and 46 of the UCA, a CPCN is granted to Corix Multi-Utility Services Inc. authorizing the construction and operation of a biomass central energy plant and the associated facilities. 

  2. Pursuant to sections 60 and 61 of the UCA, the Commission orders that the amended and restated Thermal Energy Services Agreement as of January 27, 2017, including Schedule 1 and Schedule 2, is approved subject to the amendment of Schedule 1 in order to reflect the revised deferral account wording within 60 days of the Order.

Please see the BCUC website for all documents pertaining to the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility. 

We will keep you informed during all phases of the project. Community input will be considered along with technical and financial considerations as decisions are made throughout the project.

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What is the Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility Project?

The proposed project will provide cost-effective, low carbon energy to the SFU campus and all new buildings at UniverCity, creating an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to fossil fuel and electricity use.

It is an extension of the regulated district energy utility that currently provides energy for space heating and hot water to existing buildings at UniverCity.

The project will capitalize on economies of scale to increase efficiency and lower customer rates when compared to individual systems. The existing systems will connect to a central energy plant in order to heat SFU’s Burnaby campus buildings and all future developments at UniverCity.

After extensive evaluation of alternative energy sources, biomass (wood waste) was selected as the preferred alternative energy source to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets, while meeting the thermal energy needs of the growing Burnaby Mountain community.

The goal of the Burnaby Mountain project is to deliver maximum benefits to the Burnaby Mountain community and the environment. The project will also help the City of Burnaby in meeting its municipal greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Proposed Biomass Facility
Proposed Biomass Facility

Who is Corix Utilities?

Corix is a Vancouver-based company with extensive expertise in the design, construction, and operation of innovative energy, water, and wastewater systems. Corix has experience with over 1,200 utility systems in over 7 provinces and 27 states.

Partnership with SFU and SFU Community Trust

The Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility is being developed by Corix  in partnership with SFU and SFU Community Trust. Corix was selected through a competitive bid process based on its established expertise and track record of successful community partnerships for energy and utility systems including:

  • Neighbourhood Utility Service - UniverCity development in Burnaby, BC
  • Neighbourhood District Energy System - Wesbrook neighbourhood at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC
  • Oval Village District Energy Utility - Richmond, BC

Corix will design, construct, own, and operate the Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility with oversight by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC). The BCUC regulates all privately-owned energy utilities in BC, and approves rate structures and customer billing models to ensure transparency.

What is a District Energy System?

District energy systems can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions through higher efficiencies and the ability to use a variety of alternative energy sources including biomass, GeoExchange, solar, and waste heat recovery.

District energy systems are a way of sharing energy efficiently across a community. They typically use a central energy plant to produce hot water, which is then distributed through an underground network of insulated pipes to heat exchangers located in each building. The heat exchangers, in turn, provide space heating and domestic hot water for customers, and the water in the system is then returned to the central energy plant to be re-heated and re-circulated. Learn more about district energy.

Why Biomass?

SFU, SFU Community Trust, and Corix completed the screening of several different, proven alternative energy technologies for the Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility based on criteria identified for the project.

Benefits to the
Benefits to the
Viability of Sustainable
Energy Project
  • - Greenhouse gas reduction
  • - Use of alternative energy sources
  • - Location and land use
  • Long-term durability and reliability
  • - Competitive rates
  • - Reliability
  • - Modularity and flexibility

  • - Fuel availability supply and delivery
  • - Appropriate return on investment
  • - Regulatory approval

The following technologies were evaluated:

  • High-efficiency natural gas boilers
  • Sewer heat recovery and ground source heat pumps
  • Biomass
  • Waste heat recovery
  • Combined heat and power based on natural gas and biogas
  • Solar and wind applications

Biomass was ultimately chosen as the preferred technology to meet the energy demand requirements of both the SFU campus and UniverCity.

Biomass fuel for the project will be clean wood waste, such as wood chips and shavings, as well as urban and clean construction wood waste, which will be sourced locally and delivered to the site during off-peak traffic hours. The use of local wood waste supports Metro Vancouver’s clean wood recycling policy by re-using clean construction and urban wood waste banned from Metro Vancouver landfills in 2015.

Technology Process

How does the process work?

Biomass Technology Process Click to enlarge the Technology Process.

Project Benefits

  • Energy Efficiency and Reduced Carbon Footprint - Greater energy efficiency and the use of alternative energy sources will create an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to fossil fuel and electricity use, and supports City of Burnaby municipal greenhouse gas reduction targets of 5% in 2041 compared to 2010 levels.

  • Reliability - 24/7 direct access to heat and hot water, plus dedicated maintenance and service teams. Reduced frequency of weather-related power outages when compared to traditional electricity-based systems.

  • Resilience - Flexibility to add or change energy sources over time without having to modify residential building systems.
  • Price Stability and Cost Management - Alternative fuel sources reduce exposure to fluctuating gas and electricity prices. Potential savings on building operations and maintenance costs, eliminating the need for each building to have its own boiler, hot water storage tank, and other associated equipment. 

  • Competitive Rates - Due diligence studies indicate that on a life cycle basis, customers’ energy costs would be similar to current energy costs within the community.

  • Support Local Economy -  Creation of an estimated 80 locally-hired, green infrastructure jobs during design and construction, building local expertise in the implementation of green technologies in district energy applications.
  • Education - Leadership in the creation of an innovative collaboration model that could be used by other communities.

Construction and Location

One of the goals of the Burnaby Mountain project is to deliver maximum benefits to the community and environment while integrating seamlessly into the location.

  • Location - The facility will be located on the south side of SFU’s Burnaby campus across from the South Sciences Building on South Campus road, and will significantly improve the visual character of this undeveloped site.

  • Construction - Once approved, construction on the project would begin in early 2018, following the issuance of all permits by the City of Burnaby and Metro Vancouver, and is scheduled to complete mid-2019.

    The construction will not disrupt the residential community or the campus. Large sections of the project would be built without impacting existing traffic corridors on South Campus Road. Traffic impacts would be minimized whenever possible, in order to maintain access to buildings and businesses and maximize traffic flow predictability. A proposed traffic plan approved by SFU will be in place to eliminate any potential traffic delays.
  • Noise - The plant will meet or exceed the City of Burnaby’s noise control bylaws. The location of the project is 35 metres from the closest campus building and 620 metres from the closest residential building, and is ideally situated in a treed area. 

  • Traffic - The project’s impact to traffic flow will be minimal and well managed, and is estimated to require an average of four trucks a day. The proposed project has a designated truck route located off South Campus Road, and will not disrupt regular traffic flow. Deliveries will be scheduled to minimize impacts on the community, at off-peak times when there are fewer cars on the road.
Biomass Plant Location and Truck Route
Biomass Plant Location and Truck Route

Environment and Air Quality

Once the project is fully implemented, the system will reduce an estimated 11,600 tonnes of CO2 annually, representing an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to fossil fuel and electricity use.

Using wood waste for energy has a positive impact on controlling climate change. While fossil fuel combustion takes carbon from underground and puts it into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the primary cause of climate change, biomass combustion recycles the carbon that was already in the natural carbon cycle, not adding any additional CO2 to the atmosphere.
Biomass and CO2 CycleMetro Vancouver has set some of the most stringent limits for particulate matter emissions in the world.

Air emissions from the biomass facility will meet or exceed Metro Vancouver’s bylaw requirements and will be continuously monitored.

Particulate Matter Emissions Limits Comparison

Timelines and Approval Process

Timelines and Approval Process

Click to enlarge the Timelines and Approval Process.

UniverCity Neighborhood Aerial Shot

UniverCity Neighborhood