SFU project to reduce university's heating GHG emissions by 80 per cent
A new neighbourhood energy utility on Burnaby Mountain will supply enough heat for the entire Simon Fraser University campus and future homes in the UniverCity residential development.
And the provincial government is providing $4.7 million to help make it happen, saying in a press release that the project will eliminate 11,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, equivalent to that generated by more than 900 homes.
SFU is partnering with SFU Community Trust, Corix Utilities, and BC Hydro on the energy system, which involves a high-efficiency heating plant that uses biomass—recycled wood waste from construction sites that would normally go to landfills—as the primary fuel source.
SFU Burnaby’s aging natural gas boilers, which are at the end of their useful life, were responsible for 85 per cent of the university’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2007. Under B.C.’s Bill 44, which imposes penalties for carbon emissions by public bodies, these emissions cost the school approximately $1 million each year.
The new central heating plant (combined with a process that captures waste energy from the university’s technical equipment), along with an option for green electricity generation (with BC Hydro as a buyer), will reduce SFU’s heating GHG emissions by 80 per cent, saving the school the cost of carbon offsets.
The combined heat and power project, estimated to cost $39.1 million, will generate up to 36 megawatts, enough to supply more than 90 per cent of the total energy needs for SFU and UniverCity combined.
Corix Energy Systems, a B.C. company, will own the utility and be responsible for operating and maintenance costs. SFU will buy the energy from Corix at a rate set by the B.C. Utilities Commission.
SFU’s current boilers use natural gas and have a diesel-oil-fuelled backup. Located underneath the library, their replacement will allow the space to be reclaimed for use in the university’s future expansion plans.
“As Canada’s most community-engaged research university, Simon Fraser is committed to implementing as well as researching sustainable energy solutions,” said SFU president Andrew Petter. “This project is an innovative and efficient system that reflects SFU’s determination to be a community leader in sustainable practices.”
The provincial funding is part of the $75-million Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement established in 2008 to help universities and all other public sector organizations save energy, reduce emissions and make B.C. North America’s first carbon-neutral government.
“It promises to be one of the greatest emission reductions we’ve seen from a public sector organization since we challenged the sector to achieve net-zero carbon emissions,” said B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake in a press release. “It’s going to be exciting to watch this project transform an entire community and influence the next generation’s thinking and behaviour.”