UniverCity measures its sustainability in four ways.



UniverCity is committed to providing affordable housing for all, including rental and ownership options. Rentals include purpose-built apartments in the Cornerstone building, as well as innovative secondary or “flex suites” within strata-titled apartments.

Often referred to as ‘mortgage helpers’, these flex suites are equipped with bathrooms and cooking facilities and can be rented out separately from the rest of the unit. The City of Burnaby was one of first municipalities in Canada to approve zoning for such suites.

In partnership with Vancity Enterprises and Resource Rethinking Building, the Trust also has provided affordable, family-oriented ownership options to SFU faculty and staff within the 60-unit ‘Verdant’ development. The Trust leased land at 30 per cent below market and the developers committed to affordable designs and a fixed and lower limit on marketing expenditures to accomplish this goal. Read more about Verdant.


UniverCity provides ongoing social and financial support to Simon Fraser University (SFU), one of the top 200 research institutes in the world. The Trust aims to enhance university life, academic structure, and activities, while creating a model of sustainable community building that educates and inspires. Here are just some of the initiatives underway in our community that advance education:


No green premium

One of the most commonly-cited arguments against constructing ‘green’ buildings is the perception that they cost more. In fact, many are built at almost no premium, and at UniverCity on Burnaby Mountain, Simon Fraser University (SFU) Community Trust is working with developers that have found significant cost savings in building sustainable housing.

Initiatives like a comprehensive green zoning bylaw, which requires new buildings at UniverCity be constructed to be at least 30 per cent more energy efficient and 40 per cent more water efficient than a traditional building is both progressive and workable for developers. New developments being constructed under this new zoning bylaw are moving ahead to meet these requirements, while also being cost competitive with other conventional projects being sold elsewhere in Burnaby. The UniverCity Childcare Centre is anticipated to become the first Living Building® in Canada, and cost between 10 and 15 per cent less to build than other conventional childcare centres.

The Verdant project – a groundbreaking model of sustainable and affordable housing developed in partnership with Vancity Enterprises and reSource Rethinking Building – offers family-oriented housing priced at 20 per cent below market. Currently undergoing review for LEED® Gold certification, the building is one of the most energy-efficient wood- frame buildings in Canada and was constructed at no premium compared to a conventional building.

The Trust works with developers who are committing to green projects that are among the most affordable in the region.

Supporting teaching and research
On top of building a model of sustainable community development, SFU Community Trust’s goal in developing the UniverCity community is to build an endowment fund to support teaching and research at SFU.

To date, UniverCity had contributed $25.8m to the SFU Endowment Fund for research and education with a goal of ultimately providing $150 million (in today’s dollars) by the time the community is built out.