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

media release

Backgrounder: SFU moves ahead with Surrey campus expansion

November 08, 2016

Marianne Meadahl, University Communications, 604.209.5770,


Link to Release:

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 a combination of SFU and private donors.

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 growing 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 Mechatronics 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 phase of a three-phase academic expansion plan developed 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 SFU’s 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 an innovation leader in the clean tech and sustainable energy sector.”

“SFU has developed deep community partnerships,” says Joanne Curry, Vice-President External Relations, and former executive director of the Surrey campus. “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.”

“Having a university of the magnitude of SFU is an important factor in the on-going growth and development of the Surrey City Centre area,” says Mayor Linda Hepner. “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. The City of Surrey is a proud partner and supporter of SFU and is one of the key funding partners of the University’s Research Chair in Energy Systems for Smart Cities. ”

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: Energy Systems 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 complete 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 energy systems and environmental engineering as well as support mechatronics student spaces with 440 full-time-equivalent student spaces, 320 undergraduates and 120 graduates.
  • A 400-seat lecture hall on the ground floor will serve the SFU Surrey campus and will be also 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 being 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,’ which 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 the South Fraser communities. Surrey, one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, houses B.C.’s largest school district. One-third of Surrey’s population is under the age of 19.
  • It will support the 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.). 

Quick Facts: Surrey campus

  • Surrey is SFU’s largest feeder district—20 per cent of Grade 12 students are admitted directly to SFU are from Surrey (more than 2,600 Gr. 12 students between 2010 and 2015).
  • Current enrolment: 3,150 FTEs. SFU’s growth plans include increasing the number to 5,000.
  • International students: 612 students (2015/16). Nearly half are in the Faculty of Applied Sciences (which includes the current Mechatronics program).
  • Approximately 300 staff/faculty are based at the campus (with many additional faculty members from other campuses teaching courses in Surrey).
  • Coop students: There are nearly 1,000 active co-op students from Surrey’s MSE and Interactive Arts and Technology programs. During this fall semester, 130 co-op positions are with companies located in Surrey.
  • Courses from each of SFU’s eight faculties are offered in Surrey, including first-and second-year sciences. This semester the Faculty of Health Sciences and Beedie School of Business offer the Health Change Lab, which focuses on social innovation. The Beedie school also partners with Mechatronics for the Tech Entrepreneurship@SFU program.
  • The Surrey campus currently houses 350,000 sq ft of classroom space, labs and offices overtop Central City Mall. New space above Central City Brew Pub also houses classroom space and will be home to SFU’s Venture Connection program, a resource for students, faculty and alumni aiming to become innovators.
  • The campus opened in temporary space in 2002, with an official opening in the award-winning Bing Thom designed space in Sept 2006.
  • The campus received LEED Silver accreditation for its Podium 2 facility renovation, which includes science labs, teaching space and offices.

SFU Surrey campus Timeline:

2002: SFU establishes temporary campus in Surrey's Central City Mall, in space formerly occupied by TechBC, with more than 230 new first-year students joining 282 existing former Tech BC undergrads and 53 grad students, studying for degrees in information technology and interactive arts (*current enrolment is 3,150 full-time equivalent or FTE students. More than 8,000 students take at least one class at the campus).

2003: The School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) is created (and is the longest running program in Surrey).

2006: The campus is transformed into a permanent 350,000 square foot architectural masterpiece, an award-winning design by architect Bing Thom, featuring multi-purpose teaching spaces and lecture theatres, along with specialized science and research labs.

2007: The Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE) program is created, one of the first of its kind in North America, and one of the most popular programs at the Surrey campus (the School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering was created in 2013).

2008: The Venture Connection program is established, with funding from Coast Capital Savings, to help students develop their innovations. Since its inception VC has engaged more than 3,100 participants with mentorship to more than 200 student teams and business development services to more than 120 early-stage startups.

2011: The Surrey campus celebrates the opening of Podium 2, a $10 million, 54,000-plus square foot newly renovated space that is home to first-and-second-year science labs and other teaching and research space, including a Pain Studies Lab and a Visual Analytics lab. A basement lab for Mechatronic Systems Engineering is also unveiled.

2013: The SFU-TD Community Engagement Centre opens, with a $750,000 donation from TD Bank Group, to foster strong links between the University and Surrey’s diverse and growing population.

2013: SFU is a founding partner with the City of Surrey, Fraser Health and others in establishing Innovation Boulevard, a partnership of business, higher education and government that is creating new health technologies to improve lives. New community-embedded labs, NeuroTech Lab and ImageTech Lab, follow in subsequent years and engage SFU researchers.

2013: Steve Dooley becomes campus executive director, following founding E.D. Joanne Curry’s move to External Relations associate VP (becoming VP External Relations in 2016).

2015: Mechatronics professor Majid Bahrami receives a 2016 national Clean50 award for his research on heating/cooling systems. (He also received a 2017 award for his research on the HAWgen system, which produces water from the atmosphere.) Prof. Bahrami has netted more than $10 million in funding for his clean tech research.

Quick Facts: SFU

  • SFU budget: $677,876K (2016/17)
  • $117,404K in sponsored research (latest figure 2014/2015) 
  • Estimated economic impact: $4.72 billion (latest figure 2012/2013) 
  • Enrolment: 35,000 students (headcount for 2015/2016) 
  • Number of staff/faculty: 6,337 total (2,811 continuing, 3,526 temporary) 
  • Number of alumni: 145,000


As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 145,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


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

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