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.”

-30-

For more information, please contact:

Althea Blackburn-Evans
Director, Communications
Faculty of Physical Education & Health
P: 416.978.1663
C: 416.677.9617
a.blackburn.evans@utoronto.ca