Artist's rendering of a new $126-million Energy Systems Engineering building for SFU's Surrey campus.

SFU Surrey campus expansion to support clean tech and sustainable energy sectors

November 09, 2016

By Marianne Meadahl, SFU News 

Simon Fraser University is moving forward with the expansion of its Surrey campus, with a $126-million investment for a new building announced today by the federal and provincial governments.

The governments will provide a combined $90 million in funding while the remainder will come from SFU and private donors. The announcement was made today at the  Surrey campus by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, together with B.C.’s Premier Christy Clark and SFU President Andrew Petter.

The five-storey, 15,000-square-meter building will house a proposed Energy Systems and Environmental Engineering Program, an interdisciplinary engineering stream that will support the clean tech and sustainable energy sector.

SFU will also expand its research capacities in clean tech and will work with the City of Surrey and other public and private sector partners in research and commercialization.  The building will also support SFU’s Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE) program to accommodate research as well as space dedicated to student entrepreneurship through SFU’s Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU program.

This is the first of a three-phase academic expansion plan for SFU Surrey. Further programs in health systems innovation and creative technologies will follow as provincial funding becomes available.

The building represents the first major step in expanding the Surrey campus beyond its current home in the Central City complex. Embedded in Surrey’s emerging City Centre, it will strengthen SFU’s mission to be Canada’s ‘engaged university’.

“Surrey has been SFU’s top priority for expansion, and we hugely appreciate the government support announced today,” says SFU President Andrew Petter. “This state-of-the-art facility will enable our students and researchers to gain the knowledge and skills required to help British Columbia and Canada become innovation leaders in the clean tech and sustainable energy sector.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, together with B.C. Premier Christy Clark, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner and SFU President Andrew Petter, learn more about the HAWgen, a portable water generator, from co-creator and engineering science professor Majid Bahrami, during a tour of research demos prior to the building announcement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "This once-in-a-generation investment is a historic leap to position Canada as a global centre for innovation. That means making Canada a world leader in turning ideas into solutions, science into technologies, skills into jobs and start-up companies into global successes. This investment will create conditions that are conducive to innovation and long-term growth, which will in turn keep the Canadian economy globally competitive and help grow the middle class."

Premier Christy Clark said that British Columbia's thriving tech sector is a key part of Canada's leading economy, paying wages that are 75 per cent higher than average.

“The new energy systems engineering building at Simon Fraser University will help ensure British Columbians are first in line for those jobs, while driving innovation, prosperity and job creation throughout our province."

Vice-president, External Relations Joanne Curry, the former Surrey campus executive director, credits SFU’s deep community partnerships.

“Many of our community partners, including the City of Surrey, the SFU Surrey Community and India Advisory Councils, the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, the Surrey Board of Trade, and others have been instrumental in helping us move this project forward.”

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says having a university “of the magnitude of SFU” is an important factor in the city centre’s ongoing growth and development.

“The research focus of the new campus expansion, and SFU's strengths in entrepreneurship, perfectly align with the City of Surrey’s priorities of being a leader in innovation, sustainability and clean technology.”

Meanwhile students in SFU’s MSE program welcome the expansion.

“As a graduate student working on new systems to conserve energy, I am excited by the challenges and great opportunities in the clean tech sector,” says PhD student Khorshid Fayazmanesh, one of 13 graduate students in MSE’s Laboratory for Alternative Energy Conversion (LAEC). Her research focuses on adsorption cooling.

“This new specialized space will greatly benefit those eager to develop and practice engineering skills that will help meet our future energy needs.”

The building is one of the last to be designed by the late architect Bing Thom, who was a catalyst for Surrey’s City Centre through his design of SFU’s award-winning Surrey campus. It will be located at University Drive and 102 Avenue, across from the present campus.

Work to prepare the site is underway and the building is expected to open in spring 2018.

Quick facts: Sustainable Energy Engineering Building

  • The new building will be located across from Surrey’s flagship City Centre Library. By mid-2018 the first two levels are expected to be completed and will house a suite of engineering labs, classrooms and innovation workspaces. It will also contain administrative offices, study spaces, student central service spaces and plant maintenance facilities.
  • The building will accommodate proposed new degree programs in sustainable energy and environmental engineering and support mechatronics student spaces (totaling 440 full-time equivalent (FTE) student spaces, including 320 undergraduates and 120 graduates).
  • A 400-seat lecture hall on the ground floor will serve the Surrey campus and will also be accessible to the broader Surrey community.
  • Given the level of experiential teaching and learning, labs will meet high infrastructure and safety requirements.
  • The building is organized around a central grand atrium space. The expression of nature in the building will complement the new program’s focus on the environment and sustainability. Among its sustainability features:
    • Location is next to the Skytrain and transit.
    • Dedicated stalls to charge electric vehicles are included in the underground parking.
    • The building will receive heat from the City of Surrey’s district energy system.
    • LEED Gold certification is being targeted.
  • The atrium will be used as a large return-air ‘plenum’ that will reduce overall fan power and take advantage of the natural draft throughout the five-level atrium.
  • Fitting out levels 3-5 will continue after the building opens in 2018.

Quick facts: Programs

  • The Energy Systems and Environmental Engineering Program will be the second of its type in Canada and the first in Western Canada.
  • The program will build on SFU’s current research strengths in fuel cell technologies, alternative energy and big data analytics. It will offer an integrated approach to energy engineering education, blending essential elements of policy, economics, management, entrepreneurship and leadership with a strong core of energy-related engineering sciences and design.
  • The program will help to meet the rapidly increasing enrolment demand of South Fraser communities. Surrey, one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities, houses B.C.’s largest school districts. One-third of Surrey’s population is under the age of 19.
  • It will support B.C.’s labour-market needs and expand research capacity to diversify and address challenges in the energy, hydrogen, clean-tech, electricity and LNG sectors.
  • Degrees granted from the program will include bachelor of science (B.Sc.) and master of engineering (M.Eng.).