Press Release: Sustainable Childcare

UniverCity Childcare Centre on Burnaby Mountain
Sets New Standard in Sustainable Childcare
April 12, 2012
Vancouver, B.C. – Simon Fraser University (SFU) Community Trust today celebrated the opening of the revolutionary UniverCity Childcare Centre, the greenest such facility in Canada and the first to integrate the most advanced environmental design with the renowned Reggio Emilia childcare program.
“This project resets the bar for sustainable design,” says Gordon Harris, President and CEO, SFU Community Trust. “SFU Community Trust is proud to have worked with the team at Hughes Condon Marler Architects to create a childcare centre with a net-zero environmental footprint, at a price that’s actually below childcare projects currently being built in the region.” The centre cost $3.2 million to build, which is 15 to 20 per cent less than other childcare facilities being built in the region, without the green features.
UniverCity Childcare Centre, with space for 50 three- to five-year-olds, is expected to be the first building in Canada to meet the Living Building Challenge™*, which means it will have to generate as much energy as it uses, collect or recycle more water than it consumes, and be built and operated using non-toxic materials, sourced as locally as possible.
As to the programming the centre will offer, Executive Director of SFU Childcare Society, Patricia Frouws agrees that the close integration of values and purposes has created a dynamic building that activates and sustains the growth of its community.  “The Reggio Emilia approach views children as capable and competent, learning through a process of inquiry that allows them to follow their curiosity as they encounter the world around them,” she explains. “This facility serves as an exemplary space for this respectful, self-directed learning, providing countless opportunities for children to explore indoors and out.”
Even the interactive play pieces, designed by local artisans including Brent Comber, Alastair Heseltine, and Warren Brubacher, animate the learning opportunity and support the environmental goals.
“The new Childcare Centre represents a logical next step in our effort to build a model sustainable community on Burnaby Mountain,” says SFU Community Trust President and CEO Gordon Harris. UniverCity had earlier completed a series of innovations, including the University Highlands Elementary School, the first school in BC to be renovated to LEED® Gold standards; a first-in-North America green building bylaw for all new development; a new Neighbourhood Energy Utility that will reduce GHGs on Burnaby Mountain by more than 80 per cent; and an award-winning stormwater management system.                                            
Harris says, “with a beautiful, affordable Living Building we are beginning to prove that we can build a truly sustainable community, even as we offer unprecedented support to the teaching and research mission of SFU.”
About UniverCity:
UniverCity is the award-winning residential community being developed adjacent to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. With 3,000 residents, the community will ultimately have a population at least 10,000 people. SFU Community Trust is developing UniverCity as a model sustainable community, generating endowment wealth to support teaching and research at SFU. For more information, visit
*The Living Building Challenge was set by the International Living Future Institute™ as the most ambitious rating system in North America for environmentally sustainable architectural design. Candidates for the Living Building certification must be in operation for at least 12 months so the Living Future Institute can measure actual performance rather than design intentions.