SFU Sustainable Energy and Engineering Case Study

Kevin Shea, AME Group

Simon Fraser University's (SFU) strategic vision is "to be Canada's engaged university defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research, and far-reaching community engagement"

The new Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering Building (SE3P) set out to align the University's strategic vision, need for increased learning space including interactive labs, and community outreach space, all while achieving sustainability targets and LEED Gold Certification. SE3P boasts of five storeys, 15,000 square-meters and will house an interdisciplinary engineering stream and research space for the growing clean technology and sustainable energy sector. The building is currently anticipating 49% better than baseline energy performance and will be the focal point of the Surry Campus for SFU.

The first major hurdle was that the project is developed in a high-density urban center in Surrey, BC with a high rise directly adjacent to the site. Significant wind studies and coordination of possible chemical use were done to ensure that the proper mechanical design was chosen, which does not follow the typical high plume exhaust setup.

The second hurdle, was that the school did not have any specific researchers in mind to occupy the building. It was key to design the systems to accommodate as many researchers as possible. With this flexibility in mind, the mechanical design had to consider the types of researchers that could occupy the facility, equipment and materials that could be used and design to meet all of those needs.

One of the key factors to sustainability in the facility included facility air quality monitoring and reduction in laboratory airflow. This is the first facility in BC using this technology, but the major selling feature was the monitoring, with energy reduction as a secondary consequence. This system is not always a reasonable cost for the owners and we will dive into this discussion.

Finally, the project was delivered with a mix of traditional design, bid build and design assist. The mechanical trade was tendered as a design assist at approximately 60% working drawings which helped to significantly reduce overall change orders and maintain project timelines.

This project is a case study into urban laboratories, flexibility in design and using the right technology and project delivery for the right project.

Learning Objectives

  • develop an understanding of the constraints around laboratory exhaust systems in high density, urban settings and possible solutions;
  • develop an better understanding of mechanical design issues around laboratory flexibility. Beyond modular casework and adjustable layouts, the mechanical design must consider everything that could be used in these facilities, or not use;
  • develop a better understanding for when facility air quality monitoring is best utilized and where it's payback is limited. Ensuring that the technology's benefits are understood by all parties; and
  • learn about an alternate project delivery method that mixed both traditional design bid build with design assist. Every institution must understand the best delivery method for their needs and the risks associated with each one.


Kevin joined the AME Group in Vancouver in 2014 and brings over 10 years of experience in both BC and Alberta. Kevin is the newest Principal at the AME Group and is leading the newly formed Technology and Science team in the Vancouver office. Kevin developed his passion for Laboratory design while leading a number of recent post-secondary research/laboratory projects, with the latest being Simon Fraser University's new Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering Building (SE3P).


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