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Sustainable Communities Award

2011 Sustainable Communities Award in the Integrated Neighbourhood Development category for UniverCity awarded to Simon Fraser University and the City of Burnaby (Federation of Canadian Municipalities)


The City of Burnaby worked with the Simon Fraser University Community Trust to develop UniverCity, a complete green-oriented community. This project received support from FCM´s Green Municipal Fund.

In February 2011, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities honoured the City of Burnaby and SFU Community Trust with the 2011 Sustainable Communities Award in the inaugural category of Integrated Neighbourhood Development, which recognizes excellence in environmental responsibility.

Most recently, the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) selected UniverCity for the 2011 Award for Planning Excellence in the category of Neighbourhood Planning.  The SFU Community Trust formally received this award at the 2011 CIP Conference on July 11, 2011.

UniverCity at SFU is continuing to develop as one of the most exciting, successful, and environmentally sustainable new complete communities in the entire region – indeed in the entire country.  A neighbourhood of 1,300 apartments and townhomes, UniverCity is now home to 3,000 residents, with a town square and a commercial high street already developed, as well as the new Highlands Elementary School that opened in fall 2010. The City of Burnaby contributed $1.4 million to Highlands, partnering with the School District to add community space and an expanded gym.

Construction continues despite the economy, and in 2010 council approved the third phase of the community plan, including innovative comprehensive green building requirements and incentives.  Currently under development is UniverCity's new Childcare Centre, which when competed will be the greenest building in the country and is aiming to be the first to meet the Living Building Challenge.  New residential projects are also under construction.

To date, the development of UniverCity has generated a $25 million endowment to fund teaching and research at SFU.  The Trust and SFU have estimated that the project will eventually generate an estimated $150 to $170 million dollars for the endowment.

Significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at UniverCity are being achieved in a number of ways and SFU Community Trust is working toward the creation of a Neighbourhood Energy Utility to provide heat and domestic hot water to new UniverCity developments. The NEU will ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent.

With regard to energy use, the average home in Metro Vancouver uses 22,744 kilowatt hours of energy per year.  In comparison, the average home at UniverCity uses 16,916 kilowatt hours per year, almost 13 per cent less than the average Metro Vancouver home.

New UniverCity development requirements will ensure that buildings will be 40 per cent more water efficient and at least 30 per cent more energy efficient than if these buildings were constructed following standard Building Code requirements.

Another addition to development guidelines adopted in 2010 is the Green Building Bonus section. This Section provides density bonuses for green buildings that exceed the minimum requirements and provide enhanced management strategies, efficiency or alternative energy systems. UniverCity’s phase-three zoning places UniverCity and the City of Burnaby at the forefront in sustainable community development.

What is UniverCity?

A neighbourhood of over 1,500 apartments and townhomes, UniverCity is now home to 5,000 residents, with a town square and a commercial high street already developed, as well as the new Highlands Elementary School.