Transforming wood waste into energy: How SFU’s new biomass plant fuels our community
Written by Pam Lim, manager, Communications & Engagement, Sustainability Office
SFU expects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from heating by 80 per cent now that the new $33-million Corix biomass plant has begun operation. The GHG saved is equivalent to the emissions from 900 homes every year.
By slashing direct emissions from operations and indirect emissions from energy purchased GHG emissions, SFU leads the way in sustainability with one of the smallest GHG footprints of any university in Canada.
“This facility will allow SFU to achieve 97 per cent of the province’s 2050 greenhouse gas target, making SFU a leader within the Canadian public sector in reducing GHG emissions,” says Larry Waddell, chief facilities officer, SFU. “I’m grateful for our partnerships with the Province, Corix Utilities and SFU Community Trust in taking this plant from idea to reality, to benefit our SFU community and local environment.”
Instead of using natural gas to heat SFU’s campus, the fully operational biomass plant, located on South Campus Road at SFU Burnaby, transforms clean wood waste, once destined for landfills, into a low carbon energy source. The plant now provides heat and hot water to most of SFU Burnaby and approximately half of the UniverCity community.
Carys Kenny-Howell, a chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry student at SFU, lives on campus, and says, “Having an alternate energy source that creates the energy for all of the people who live and work up here, I think that’s a really big step.”
"Thank you at the end to all our dedicated and committed staff who worked so diligently towards making this happen," says Waddell.
The biomass plant will help SFU achieve sustainability targets developed in the university’s five-year sustainability plan. Launched in 2020, the SFU 2025 Sustainability plan aligns with the United Nations objective of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, and includes 16 targets to reduce the university’s carbon footprint, including reducing GHG emissions by half and shifting half of the university’s energy use to renewable sources by 2025.
Read more about sustainability actions at SFU: