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 new childcare centre currently under construction will be the first Living Building® in Canada, and will 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.