Six ways SFU reduces greenhouse gas emissions

August 03, 2023

SFU’s Climate Change Accountability Report for 2022 was recently released. SFU made remarkable strides by reporting a 52 per cent reduction in emissions in 2022. This achievement is even more notable considering that the university's physical footprint has expanded by approximately 30 per cent since it began annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting in 2007.

So how did we do it?

One: Energy efficiency and conservation projects

Since 2007, SFU has completed a number of energy efficiency upgrade projects and building control optimizations to reduce energy consumption across all three campuses. The value of these efforts can be measured by a steady reduction in energy consumption and GHG emissions for SFU. SFU also, became the first university to win not just one but two awards from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE) BC Chapter.

Two: Renewable energy

The Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility continues to make a major difference in helping the university achieve its GHG reduction goals. Experts from our Facilities Services team and Corix configure our heating system year-round via the biomass energy facility to further reduce GHG emissions.

A pilot project to acquire renewable natural gas (RNG) from FortisBC has also been undertaken. Using RNG instead of conventional natural gas can help SFU to further reduce GHG emissions.

Three: Greener buildings

With every new capital project at the university, we are incorporating high-performance green building standards. This can be seen in buildings such as the Dining Commons and SFU Surrey on University Drive, which are both built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standards. Future buildings such as the First Peoples Gathering House and Gibson Art Museum will also be built to LEED gold standards.

Four:  Long-term partnerships

In 2022, SFU partnered with the City of Burnaby to advance the new Civic Innovation Lab. SFU will share its leading-edge research and strengths in innovation and sustainability to advance practical solutions for the city’s most pressing urban issues, from diversity and housing to sustainable growth and environmental challenges, caused by climate change.

Five:  Upgrades to facilitate research on campus

Every day, research is happening 24/7 on our campuses, which takes a lot of energy to power. In 2022, SFU upgraded more than 50 fume hoods in the Shrum Science Centre buildings, not only reducing GHGs but enhancing safety for our researchers. In Shrum Science Centre Kinesiology, the fan replacement heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) project helped reduce electricity usage, thermal energy consumption and overall GHG emissions.

Six:  Fleet vehicles

SFU continues its efforts to expand the university’s fleet with electric vehicles (EVs). Facilities Services, Parking and Sustainable Mobility Services, Procurement Services and the Sustainable Transportation Working group are among the people working towards an electrified fleet. SFU is gradually transitioning towards more owned or leased EVs in its fleet. 

Learn more

Read more about all the ways SFU is reducing GHGs in our annual Climate Change Accountability Report. With the goal of reducing 50 per cent of SFU’s operational emissions by 2025, read how this will be accomplished in our five-year Strategic Energy Management Plan.