Media Releases

University Of Toronto heats showers from the sun

January 14, 2010

TORONTO, ON — The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to’s Ath­let­ic Cen­tre boasts a new fea­ture its mem­bers don’t yet know about but are already using: show­ers heat­ed by the sun.

In late 2009, the uni­ver­si­ty installed 100 solar col­lec­tor pan­els on the roof of the Ath­let­ic Cen­tre, locat­ed at Har­bord Street and Spad­i­na Avenue. The instal­la­tion, which became oper­a­tional on Tues­day, 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 annu­al GHG reduc­tions are rough­ly equiv­a­lent to tak­ing 11 cars per­ma­nent­ly off the road, while the year­ly ener­gy sav­ings would be enough to heat 11 aver­age-sized detached homes in Cana­da.

The ini­tia­tive first took shape as a stu­dent project in 2006, when Fac­ul­ty of Applied Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing under­grad­u­ate Ash­ley Tay­lor eval­u­at­ed the fea­si­bil­i­ty of installing solar col­lec­tor pan­els at the loca­tion. Now employed full-time by the Uni­ver­si­ty’s sus­tain­abil­i­ty office, Tay­lor worked with the facil­i­ties and ser­vices divi­sion on cam­pus to see the project through to com­ple­tion. “It has been very ful­fill­ing to see a sim­ple research ques­tion become a real­i­ty,” says Tay­lor. “It’s a great exam­ple of how U of T can use the cam­pus as a liv­ing lab, bridg­ing research and oper­a­tions.”

U of T con­tributed two-thirds of the cost of the project, sourc­ing the remain­ing third from the Ontario Solar Ther­mal Heat­ing Incen­tive and the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s ecoEN­ER­GY for Renew­able Heat Incen­tive. The project reflects the Uni­ver­si­ty’s decades-long com­mit­ment to ener­gy effi­cien­cy and sus­tain­abil­i­ty, which has avoid­ed an esti­mat­ed 22 per cent increase in green­house gas emis­sions over the last 35 years.

“This ini­tia­tive is part of a much larg­er sus­tain­abil­i­ty strat­e­gy under the ter­rif­ic lead­er­ship of U of T’s facil­i­ties and ser­vices divi­sion,” says Bruce Kidd, dean of the Fac­ul­ty of Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion and Health, which hous­es the Ath­let­ic Cen­tre. “The cost and ener­gy sav­ings from the solar pan­els are just the first step; ulti­mate­ly we aim to increase aware­ness so that our users are more mind­ful of their impact on the envi­ron­ment.”


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Althea Black­burn-Evans
Direc­tor, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Fac­ul­ty of Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion & Health
P: 416.978.1663
C: 416.677.9617