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Mar 26, 2018

U of GThe University of Guelph has received $25 million from the Ontario government to support its ongoing energy and water conservation efforts. The funds — $9.5 million in grants and $16.8 million in interest-free loans — come from the province’s greenhouse gas campus retrofits program within its larger climate change action plan. (Shown in photo: Engineering professor Andrea Bradford discussing the experiential learning opportunities provided by water and energy conservation projects.)

“We are committed to a future as an energy-reliable campus, and this new funding will allow us to expand and enhance initiatives aimed at placing fewer demands on the planet,” says Don O’Leary, vice president (finance, administration and risk).

The university will use the funding to upgrade and expand its heat recovery system, install real-time energy monitoring meters and a new electric boiler, and pursue other projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our goal is preserving natural resources, cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, and helping protect the environment,” O’Leary says. “Increasing the efficiency of our heating system and introducing electric-based heating is another step toward a long-term strategy of reducing reliance on carbon-based fuel for heating.”
The retrofit projects will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 3,200 tonnes per year, the combined equivalent of removing nearly 700 cars from the road, powering and heating about 350 homes, and the benefit of planting more than 83,000 trees.

Students will have access to course-based and hands-on learning opportunities involving the heat recovery system. Students — largely in engineering, environmental sciences, business and environmental governance programs — work in U of G’s Department of Physical Resources each term, and this project will provide more learning opportunities.
O’Leary said U of G has found innovative ways to use and manage energy and water for many years. The university has invested millions of dollars in energy and water conservation efforts as part of its long-term plan to be a carbon-neutral campus, he said.

This includes the Green Gryphon initiative, a $26.2-million, campus-wide energy retrofit that led to a new thermal energy storage system. Overall, the project has reduced the university’s electrical consumption by eight per cent and electrical demand by 14 per cent annually.

U of G has also invested more than $10 million in other retrofit programs, including energy-efficient lights and windows, heating systems and water conservation. Campus-wide water use has decreased by nearly 8% and total energy consumption by 11%, saving the university some $2.2 million a year.

In 2016, U of G’s conservation efforts were rewarded with a $5.8-million energy-saving initiative from the province, part of a funding rewards program overseen by the Ministry of Energy.

Photo: University of Guelph