Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility
Burnaby, British Columbia, CANADA

Leveraging economies of scale to provide Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus and the UniverCity residential community with low-carbon thermal energy.


The Clients

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is one of Canada’s premier educational institutions and ranks among the world’s top 10 universities for its commitment to tackling climate change (Times Higher Education, 2021). As part of its mission to help build healthy, resilient and sustainable communities, the SFU Community Trust was established to oversee the planning and development of UniverCity, a sustainable master-planned community adjacent to SFU’s Burnaby campus. 

The Opportunity 

As a model for practical and affordable sustainability, UniverCity required a cost-effective, long-term and environmentally responsible, alternative energy solution that could provide heat and hot water to the community’s new housing projects. Corix subsequently developed and implemented the Neighbourhood Utility Service (NUS) in 2012, and in 2016 SFU, SFU Community Trust and Corix began exploring the opportunity to build a larger energy system that would be able to meet the thermal energy needs of both SFU’s academic campus and the expanding UniverCity community.

The Solution

Building on the success of the NUS, Corix and SFU signed an agreement for the implementation of the Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility (BMDEU) and commenced planning and construction of the $33-million biomass-based Renewable Energy Centre. Completed in 2020, the plant now provides low-carbon heat and hot water to most of SFU’s Burnaby campus and approximately half of the UniverCity community – nearly 10,000 residents and an additional 30,000 SFU students, staff and faculty. The BMDEU has drastically decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, resulting in SFU exceeding its carbon reduction targets and cutting its GHGs by more than 50 percent from 2007 levels in 2021 with savings of 11,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

bmdeu 3The Energy System

While the energy requirements for the NUS were initially provided by temporary natural gas-fired boilers, the larger scale of the BMDEU meant the transition to a permanent, low-carbon energy source was now economically viable. Following the assessment of various alternative energy sources, biomass was identified and ultimately selected for the BMDEU to meet the capacity and higher temperature requirements of SFU’s Campus district energy system, ensuring compatibility and a seamless transition to low-carbon energy. The Renewable Energy Centre utilizes locally-sourced wood waste, such as wood chips, shavings, urban and clean construction wood waste that has been banned from Metro Vancouver landfills since 2015. The 13.5 MWt biomass boiler provides an estimated 85% of annual energy demand for the system with natural gas boilers providing peaking and back-up for UniverCity customers. The system includes additional efficiency measures, such as a flue gas heat recovery system, preheating of combustion air and heat recovery from a biomass boiler cooling water system.    A two-stage emissions control system and a continuous emissions monitoring system ensure local air emissions meet or exceed Metro Vancouver’s stringent air emission requirements.




Floor Area Served

  • UniverCity: 19 residential buildings, 2.3 million sq. ft. (at buildout)
  • Campus: 3.5 million sq. ft.

System Overview

  • 19.5 MWt (13.5 MWt biomass providing 85% of total combined energy demand + 6 MWt natural gas for peaking and back-up)
  • 20 Energy Transfer Stations
  • 6km Distribution Piping System

Type of Partnership

Corix Ownership (Design, Build, Finance, Own, Operate, Maintain)

Source of Low-Carbon Energy


GHG Savings
11,600 tCO2e / year


  • BC Hydro Community Low-Carbon Grant in 2011
  • BC Hydro Energy Efficiency grant for new plants in 2020
  • PSECA grant to SFU ($4.75MM) in 2012

Our Commitment to Reconciliation

Corix acknowledges that the Burnaby Mountain DEU lies on the unceded Traditional Territories of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əmStó:lōQayqaytHul’qumi’num Treaty GroupTsleil-WaututhMusqueamSquamish, and Stz’uminus Nations.

Learn more about our Canadian Indigenous Relations.