Media Release


Engineering Science

Collaboration aids Surrey’s environmental goals

October 01, 2012

Erik Kjeang, 778.782.8791; (best reached via email)
Syed Ahmed,
Rob Costanzo, 604.590.7287;
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017/4323;

A new waste disposal program launched today by the city of Surrey is designed to improve environmental responsibility – that also applies to the fleet of trucks that will carry out the program, thanks in part to Simon Fraser University researchers.

City staff and SFU Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE) researchers collaborated on a study in 2009 of the environmental impact of the city’s fleet of diesel waste disposal trucks, comparing them with alternative CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles. The researchers used real-time operational data provided by the city and an established Canadian life cycle analysis tool called GHGenius.

The measurements consider everything from a vehicle’s production and operation to its disposal and recycling.

The SFU researchers, led by professors Erik Kjeang and Kourosh Malek, found while there was no net energy savings in replacing the fleet, improved cost effectiveness could be factored into a 24 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas and further reductions in CAC (Criteria Air Contaminants) emissions, which include a variety of pollutants that could affect health, leading to associated costs.

A manuscript based on the study has recently been accepted for publication in the international journal Energy Policy.

Having used the SFU findings to aid their decision to replace the waste disposal diesel fleet, city staff members are continuing collaborations with SFU to analyse their full fleet. This time they are using a customized life cycle analysis (LCA) tool produced by the SFU researchers, including MSE post-doc fellows Syed Ahmed and Mehdi Shahraeeni and undergraduate student Peter Johnston.

“After the initial study we wanted to create a model that would tell us as widely as possible the impact of all of the city’s vehicles, to produce a comprehensive understanding of how they could best meet the city’s needs and environmental goals,” says Kjeang.

The team is working on an “alpha” version of the online tool, with funding from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), MITACS and the City of Surrey. They hope to enable it to solve more sophisticated algorithms related to emission effects and lifecycle cost.  The tool specializes in assessment of alternative, low-carbon emission vehicles such as CNG, electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

“The new tool will combine a diverse set of operational and techno-economic attributes for fleet management that none of the existing LCA tools can provide alone,” says Malek.

Adds Kjeang: “The goal is to provide the City of Surrey staff with the underlying scientific knowledge and numerical algorithms so they can plug in their own data and determine their own results.”

The SFU team is collaborating with the city on other longer-term projects, including the potential development of alternative fuel sources such as biomethane. Their tool is expected to play a role in predicting the benefits of such fuel options.

Rob Costanzo, deputy manager of operations for the city’s engineering department, says the researchers’ input has helped city engineers substantively in their decision-making.

“It has been extremely beneficial to involve academia as we address issues of environmental responsibility,” says Costanzo. “The SFU researchers are a natural fit to join forces with our engineering department and we anticipate much more to come from our collaborative efforts.”

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.