Media Releases

University of Toronto going greener this year

August 23, 2010

TORONTO, ON – From heating showers with solar energy to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing electrical loads, the University of Toronto’s wide-ranging “green” initiatives are advancing sustainable practices on campus.

Last year UofT joined with the executive heads of 20 other Ontario institutions and made a public commitment to continue practicing the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and to invest in being environmentally sustainable. The University is growing its sustainable practices with the expansion of a number of important initiatives – both big and small – that will have positive impact on the environment.

One of the University’s most ambitious projects is the installation of 100 solar collector panels on the roof of the Athletic Centre at Harbord Street and Spadina. The installation, which became operational this year, is currently the biggest initiative of its kind in the GTA and the largest known system at a Canadian university. The panels will supply nearly 25 per cent of the heat for the building’s showers and laundry facilities during peak sunshine months, substantially reducing natural gas use – and consequently greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – throughout the year.

The ongoing paper conservation program combines technical changes to printer settings with complementary tools and messages that encourage individuals to reduce and reuse. More than 100 million sheets of copy paper are consumed on the St. George Campus annually and are associated with greenhouse gas emissions of about 1,500 tonnes. This year the Sustainability Office aims to expand the paper conservation program, piloted at Gerstein Science Information Centre, to over 15 additional libraries, reaching an estimated 20,000-30,000 more students and reducing paper use at participating sites by up to 50 per cent – or as much as two million sheets each year.

On a smaller scale, students are engaging in sustainability initiatives including the campus agricultural project that brings together students, staff and faculty to grow, eat and locally distribute their own food from green roofs and garden plots across all three campuses.

“Students are a driving force behind sustainability initiatives at UofT. Students conceived of many of the initiatives that continue to benefit the entire university community year after year including Rewire, Bikechain and the paper reduction program. Their imagination and enthusiasm keep us all inspired and energized, which is why providing student opportunities is a core component of the Sustainability Office’s mission,” says Dr. Beth Savan, University of Toronto Sustainability Director.

More examples of how U of T is promoting the environment include:

•The office of real estate operations and facilities and services was awarded the University’s first LEED gold certification by the Canadian Green Building Council. The office is located at 255 McCaul St.

•The award-winning Rewire program is building a culture of conservation in campus offices and student residences while reducing user-mediated electricity demand by an estimated 10-13 per cent. This success has inspired the creation of Start Green, an energy education program that launches in September 2010 and will engage over 2000 more students.

•UofT is a leader in waste diversion, currently diverting 65.7 per cent of all the non-hazardous waste produced on campus.

For more information on UofT’s various sustainability initiatives, visit


For more information, please contact:

Joyann Callender
Media Relations Officer
University of Toronto