UniverCity at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC evaluates the first phase of a new self-proclaimed sustainable development adjacent to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, eight years after construction began and five years after residents first moved in. UniverCity is instructive because it adopted many physical design parameters common to New Urbanist communities and it is a low-impact development. This case study integrates metrics of smart growth and low impact development.

The questions asked are:

  • Will a development that sets out to be sustainable? implement practices that result in on the ground performance does it achieve compactness, diversity, completeness and connectivity?
  • Does it concurrently achieve low environmental impact?

We measured UniverCity against metrics of form, density, connectivity, provision of services and resident travel behavior, and importantly, evaluated whether it is possible to achieve no net impact on downstream habitat considering the intensity of development. For that reason the study explores the hydrological design and stormwater performance in greater detail.